Monday, July 17, 2017

Atoll Tahanea

We are finally back in the Tuamotus, where life is isolated to say the least! Only other atoll we had been to was Fakarava in May of 2016, but it has a marked channel and a population. The atoll of Tahanea is uninhabited and unmarked. Since our friends Birgit and Christian, on Pitufa, have spent several months each of the last 4 years in this atoll, we asked them to show us around and give us the trick for staying safe out here in Never Never Land!! I keep waiting for Tinkerbell and Peter Pan to show up to the boat!
We followed Pitufa across the atoll leaving around 10:30am.

It is mostly deep (from 100 to 50 feet), but it is important to cross inside the lagoon at the height of the sun so you can easily see the bombies. These are individual coral growths that can be like a bomb if you hit it with your hull. The water changes color and sometimes they even stick out of the water.

Liward sails right on by us (waterline!)

We went past an island in the middle of the atoll that was covered with lots of flying nesting birds. Too many to count!

On the South side we anchored behind the C reef (looks like a C from the satellite photos), and next to a large motu inside the outer reef.

Lili and I went shell hunting on the motu.

We found all kinds of interesting things, like this huge iron nail from who knows how long ago!

We also found a baby Boobie bird hiding from us. We did not get too close but he sure was cute in his down feathers.

We saw another nest with an egg in it, but no one sitting on it.

This bright colored crab was escaping us into the water.

Somehow, etched in the coral, was a heart with a happy face. I knew then life is good!!

We saw several birds. This one is the Curlew, which flies all the way to Alaska and back every year, just to nest in the South Pacific!!

This is the small sandpiper that is now endangered. They were very curious and walked right up to us unafraid.

This Fairy Tern flew down right in front of us, landed on this branch, gave us a few squawks and then flew away. He was only a few feet from us.

There is another motu further past the one we were walking on. We'll explore that one later.

This was the score of a shell collection we picked up. The big thing at the top is a skeleton of a type of urchin. It is about 4 inches long!

We had another sunset beach party, this time on the low tide sand bar.

The sun was setting right behind Avatar! Beautimous!!

The next day Mike and I went snorkeling. The crystal clear water was awesome! Seemed like each little reef outcrop had it's own protective grouper to guard it.
Grouper hiding in a hole in the rocks.

Marbled Grouper swimming by.

Blue Spotted Grouper swims past a clam.

This Blue Lipped Clam was a fabulous color. They can be anywhere from brown to green to dark blue to brilliant turquoise.

A large area of the C reef is too shallow for us to snorkel in, but not for the fishes!

This is a Bird Wrasse. I guess because it looks like he has a beak.

A school of large Parrot Fish were checking out the reef. I had never seen a Red Headed Parrot fish, and the book said they are fairly rare to find.

Of course this red head was quite enamored with the red headed parrot fish!! We are rare indeed!

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