28 Jun Gambier Island, French Polynesia
By Eric Röttinger
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! In the context of the Tara Oceans Expedition, the schooner Tara visits the Gambier Islands for a stop-over and a scientific leg. 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!
For more images from the Gambier Islands during the TARA Oceans expedition, please visit KAHI KAI IMAGES.