Tuamotu, French Polynesia
The Living Oceans Foundation conducts coral reef research in the Tuamotu archipelago, a chain of islands and atolls in French Polynesia. Tuamotu forms the largest chain of atolls in the world, stretching an area roughly the size of Western Europe. The wide variation in geologic structures and unique biological communities provides an ideal location to study corals.
Our 2013 mission focused on five atolls in Tuamotu French Polynesia, including the two largest atolls in French Polynesia, and two smaller atolls with no lagoon access. Most of the coral reef research focused on lagoonal patch reefs, which range from 180 feet deep to just below the surface. One of the questions we hope to answer is how lagoonal patch reefs form. We also conducted habitat mapping and coral reef assessments, assessed invertebrates that are typically targeted as food species, and studied the effects of climate change on the reef. The information we are collecting and the tools we are developing can be used to help protect these reefs and ensure that they continue to support local communities and attract international visitors.