Pitufa.at » Photo Galleries » Remnants of Untouched Nature in the Tuamotus

Here are some impressions from our quest for wildlife and wilderness in the Tuamotus. A few specks survived the ever expanding, destructive copra industry and unsustainable exploitation. We document, report, and try to raise awareness.

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1/58: Approaching a pass we watch out for standing waves, eddies and similar phenomena that indicate the direction and strength of the current.
2/58: Not ideal, some wind against current results in standing waves. Here they are not high yet.
3/58: Many of the passes in the Tuamotus (here Aratika) feature several fish traps.
4/58: Trapped fish are easy to spear for the locals, but sharks and rays also get trapped and are usually just left to die inside.
5/58: We also saw several turtles in such traps: locals claim they release them (there are high fines on killing turtles), but it seems more likely that they eat them anyway...
6/58: Who wouldn't like to have such a holiday home?
7/58: The caretaker of the property told us that the owners haven't visited in 5 years...
8/58: They used to run a pearl farm, but unlike most others who abandoned such farms, they have at least cleaned up the remaining rubbish.
9/58: We sailed to two atolls in the community of Fakarava.
10/58: Friendly locals showed us around...
11/58: Maire introduced us to Marina, the village mascot--a tame green turtle who lives in the harbour basin.
12/58: She's also friends with the crested terns there.
13/58: The arrival of the supply ship is a big event.
14/58: Copra and fish are exported to Tahiti.
15/58: Exploring the pass
16/58: Giant clams
17/58: Plenty of healthy, young coral.
18/58: We were quite surprised when some dogs came out for a swim.
23/58: Trigger fish bite of chunks of coral and everybody else wants to see what they find.
24/58: Remora--usually they attach themselves to sharks, turtles or boats, this small one liked Christian.
25/58: Cute porcupine fish.
26/58: Butterfly fish
27/58: We got permission to visit the biosphere (usually forbidden) and sailed close-hauled across the lagoon. Thanks to Graham (Leela) for the pic!
28/58: We found a pristine paradise.
29/58: Approaching, boobies already circled us.
30/58: We took Pitufa along the coastline and saw nesting brown boobies everywhere along the shore.
32/58: A variety of deciduous trees and shrubs: this is what all atolls used to look like before they were burnt down for copra plantations.
35/58: We went out to explore and count birds.
36/58: This crab didn't die--he just outgrew his skin...
37/58: ...and left through the escape hatch.
38/58: We only found 2 of those endangered sandpipers...
39/58: But we were happy to count about 100 brown booby chicks--this one's just begging mum for food...
40/58: When we explore bird motus we walk in the shallow water and observe from the distance.
41/58: Pandanus
49/58: In the SE corner we found a wreck--very creepy.
51/58: Did they run aground after catching this line in the prop?
52/58: Kayak, Juneau, Alaska. Locals told us the boat went on the outer reef, they rescued the crew, but couldn't tow off the boat...
53/58: Shrubs hold on to the shore and are important to prevent the ongoing erosion because of climate change and rising sea levels.
54/58: Unfortunately the locals still burn down more and more trees to make space for copra (subsidised by the state)
55/58: Erosion gnaws on the islands, there's no shade for turtle eggs (when it's too warm only female babies hatch) and no nesting trees for birds.
56/58: Rubbish (especially from fishing fleets) is swept ashore.
57/58: Some of the rubbish is also local.
58/58: We took a presentation about the fragility of the eco-system, about the local birds, erosion and the importance of trees to the school.