Gambier Island, French Polynesia…

Logbook / Written by Eric Roettinger / 28 Jun 2011


The schooner Tara has reached French Polynesia where she will spend several month. Currently, TARA harbors in Mangareva Islands, the biggest island of the Gambier archipelago. Scientists and Crew members are organizing the next leg (plankton/coral) and Eric Roettinger from Kahi Kai joined the boat where he is in charge of imaging the poorly described local marine biodiversi

This log is published in Tara Expeditions / Title image credit: Eric Roettinger

2011 06 21 Arrival at Gambier's airport

2011 06 21 Approaching Gambier's airport

2011 06 22 Sunny wake-up at the pension Marui

2011 06 22 Gambier's Islands are well known for their unique pearls

2011 06 22 Intrusion of the graft in the oysters

2011 06 22 Harvested pearls

2011 06 22 The lagoon of Mangareva

2011 06 22 The lagoon of Mangareva

2011 06 22 The lagoon of Mangareva

2011 06 22 Sunset in Mangareva

2011 06 23 Hike to Mount Duff

2011 06 23 Hike to Mount Duff

2011 06 23 View from the peak.

2011 06 23 View at 180˚C from the previous image.

2011 06 23 Close up from Taravai and Agakauitai.

2011 06 24 We embarked onboard Tara where we welcome school classes

2011 06 24 Tahitian dinner with local people.

2011 06 25 view from TARA harboring in Rikitea

2011 06 30 Agakauitai Island


Eric is a developmental biologist and is also co-founder of the non-profit organization Kahi Kai (“one ocean” in hawaiian). He has a profound interest in portraying and protecting the fascinating, colourful and highly endangered marine world. Visit Kahi Kai Images if you would like to see some of his work.

Gambier Islands and atolls cover a small area (about 35 km²) in the south Pacific and is well known for its pearl farming. Those natural and quite isolated islands are located at the southeast end of the Tuamotu archipelago, several hundred miles south away from Tahiti Islands. In Gambier, most of the landscape was designed and shaped by volcanic activity contrary to the Tuamotu islands, which comprise several chains of coral atolls.

The last publication about the coral biodiversity in Gambier Island dates from 1974, nearly 40 years ago! Using a combination of morphological analysis and modern molecular and cellular tools in biology, the scientists onboard are assessing the coral diversity (and comparing it to the previous study) and how global warming may affect this isolated oceanic ecosystem.

Moreover, for the first time in a Tara leg, both coral specialists and plankton specialists will work together, allowing scientists onboard to study the link between the composition and health of the water column (plankton, bacteries, viruses…) and the composition and health of the coral reef (coral, fishes, invertebrates).

In this logbook entry, we will add images sent from Eric directly from Tara to share his impressions from the south Pacific and Gambier Islands… enjoy!

To read the image legend, please click on the image.

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