Underwater world

Whenever the sea’s not completely calm going ashore is out of question here, so we’ve concentrated on the underwater world for the past few days. The reef looks different from what we’re used to: In the shallow water the coral’s mainly dead (apart from some baby staghorn giving it another try), but between 5 and 10 m and in some places down into the drop-off beautiful stone coral in different shapes (plenty of Pachyseris, they look like morels growing on a tree trunk…) cover impressive bommies and deep canyons in between.

There are many fish around, but not too many different species:
We always have a few grey reef sharks, black-tip reef sharks and white-tip reef sharks accompanying us, but they’re mainly small. As we’re out on the ocean here we expected to see some big oceanic species and were always hopefully keeping one eye out towards the dark-blue while holding on to the dinghy firmly ;-) Unfortunately we haven’t seen any of those big sharkies that must be out there…

Swarms of young black triggers hang out everywhere, barracudas follow us, but keep their distance, big snappers are everywhere, big jacks flash by, but apart from that all fish seem rather small (mainly surgeons, some napoleons, some parrots, few butterflies, etc.) and most surprisingly: no big groupers at all. We find that puzzling, maybe an illegal fishing vessel fished the big fish off? Or maybe the big sharkies come in at night and leave only small fish behind? (that would be nicer but is of course less likely).

The greatest attraction here are the green turtles: Each time we go snorkeling we see a few, most are small, but some measured more than a metre and they were all very curious, checked us out and stuck their stubby noses close to our cameras :-) In the Tuamotus we don’t see as many turtles in a whole season as we do here in a day–they are still mercilessly hunted by the locals there…

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