Motu Vaiamanu

Yesterday we used the calm and sunny weather to explore a bit more of the southern, shallow lagoon with its numerous coral heads. We first navigated to a natural opening in the fringing reef on the southern coast of Raivavae to have a GPS track to this protected spot on cloudy days. Then we proceded carefully to the big motu Vaiamanu on the southeastern barrier reef. It’s the only ‘public’ motu, all the others are private and we were suprised to hear that even local families aren’t allowed to visit them without the owner’s permission…

Anyway, we found a nice anchoring spot in between the bommies and took the dinghy over to the pretty motu with its endless white sand beach and diverse vegation mix of endemic shrubs, palm trees and introduced pine trees. There’s a huge, mint-coloured shallow area north of Vaiamanu with tiny motus fringing it, that’s why the French also call it ‘motu piscine’ (swimming pool). We were a bit disappointed though, that we hardly saw any birds or fish, not even the usually omnipresent reef sharks came by. We don’t really have an explanation for this lack of wildlife as only a few hundred people live on Raivavae and they don’t seem to take much interest in the lagoon and motus, but maybe they overfished/harvested too many eggs/hunted too many birds in the past.

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