Tuamotu IslandsTouamotu Islands
The Tuamotu Archipelago's research on corals began with an air photograph taken with the Golden Eye floatplane at an altitude of 500-1000ft. Tuamotu Islands is the biggest island in Polynesia, covering an area comparable in scale to the rest of Europe (with a surface area of only 850 km2) and 77 of the 425 islands in the rest of the underworld.
Investigations are focused on Rangiroa, Aratika, Raraka, Fakarava, Toau and Niau, a group of plains that make up the Pallisers Islands at the northwestern end of Tuamotu. Tuamotus are the oldest islands in Polynesia, extending on a vast crest at a deep of 1,500 to 3,000 metres and encircled by deep (4000-5,000 metres) waters.
They look very different from the sky than many of the Society Islands. No tall vulcanic islands like Tahiti, Raiatea and Huahine. These are real eagles, created by the growing of corals and coral-red seaweed that cover the peaks of inert volcanos. The Tuamotu Islands are mostly just a few metres above sealevel, with the exception of Makatea and parts of Rangiroa, Fakarava and Niu, which were once immersed but were raised by tectonical movement and are now surrounded by carbonated crags.
The first stop was Rangiroa, the biggest of the atolls in Polynesia and the second biggest in the over all. The area of the island is about 1400 square kilometres, more than 240 moto ( "motu", Polynesia for small islands), two low canals or pass (called "ava" in Polynesia ) and many small bays (called "hoa" in Polynesia), which are often partly or completely separated from the ocean.
Rangiroa's laguna, due to its dimensions, is more like an inner ocean than a real one. From the bottom of the lake (20-25 metres deep) to just below the shore, a complex net of cliffs is formed by a number of gorgonians or battlements that rise above the area. Just like the islands, these fields of corals can have a protected side and an open side, each with different flora and fauna.
When we had refuelled, we went eastwards, circled the area around Aratika and Raraka, followed by Fakarava and Toau. Each of these islands in the Tuamotu Islands has Eve of different sizes that connect the Laguna to the ocean, but only two (in Fakarava and Toau) are large enough to allow the Golden Shadow to pass safely.
Included in these pools and the nature and sizes of the passageways are crucial characteristics that influence the movement and rinsing of the pool, the transportation of sediment from the pool to the outside and the species of coral, fish and other fauna living in the pool.
Fakarava, the second biggest tunnel of the Tuamotu Islands (about 1200 km2), has an extended low water body, which is linked to the sea by two canals. This is the biggest canal in Polynesia and a well-known diving spot for sharks in the northwest end of the world.
Inside the Laguna are several hundred peaks of corals, mostly concentrating on the south and the centre of the Laguna; these are the most advanced and often have small rising islands of sands in the centre. We' ve completed our air exploration of the Tuamotu-Archipel near Niau, a fully fenced off tunnel with a flat, marshy, hyper saline lake, deep foliage, thick flora surrounding the circumference, fine white sands and a fringe wall.
At Rangiroa, after refuelling, we returned to Tahiti to see the remainder of the science crew and begin our research into the Tuamotu Reef.