We spent three days at the beautiful Rangiroa atoll. If you read the Aerial Reconn blog, then you will know that this atoll is large. It is so large that when you are in the center, you are unable to see land in any direction. Rangiroa atoll is 350 km away from Papeete and we saw a definite difference in the reefs. We dove both on the outside of the atoll, where the abundance of life was spectacular, and in the lagoon where there were patch reefs dominated by large boulder corals. I was amazed at both the abundance and diversity of fish and coral on the reef. What was strange to us was that, although we had abundant healthy fish populations and abundant healthy coral populations, there was a large amount of the macroalgae Halimeda. Often, a large amount of macroalgae leads to an unhealthy coral population, but these reefs of Rangiroa atoll looked great.
The highlight for most of the divers was the last dive at Rangiroa atoll. It was an outside reef site and a small pod of dolphins came up to play with us at the start of the dive. They swam within inches from our faces just to check us out and say hi. After a short period of time, the dolphins moved on to find something more exciting and we went back to work surveying a reef full of coral and large schools of fish. It was one of the best looking reefs we have seen yet.
(Photos by: 1 Brian Beck, 2 Serge Andrefouet)
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