Sharks, dolphins, rays and turtles

Trip Start Jul 02, 2003
Trip End Jan 17, 2004

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Flag of French Polynesia  ,
Monday, December 1, 2003

So having sampled some of the Cook Islands it was time to leave for the South Seas Paradise that is Tahiti. Actually, the country is called French Polynesia and Tahiti is just one island of many. The country is part of France so we were all disappointed to find that there was no passport stamp to be had - it's part of the EU. We landed in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti and the next morning I went to the Air Tahiti office to see what I could sort out and bought myself an air pass to visit several of the islands. First off was Rangiroa.

Rangiroa is a coral atoll - that is a large lagoon (35 kms by about 70 kms) surrounded by a series of motu. The motu get to about 300 metres across at their widest point so there isn't much land to go round, I don't think it would last very long if global warming causes the sea levels to rise much further either!

Anyway, this enormous lagoon makes for some fantastic diving. Not only is the water incredibly clear as the sea floor plumets to great depths on all sides of the atoll, but when the tide changes there's a huge volume of water to be moved in and out of the lagoon and only a few narrow passes to move it through. This means currents of up to 15 knots which is apparently a very fast current and an abundance of sharks who come to see what is washed in and out with the tide!

All in I did 4 dives, there's not much more to do on Rangiroa to be honest! On the first dive as we went in we saw dolphins - one swam right past me. Then as we went further down there were sharks all around, Grey Reef Sharks and White Tip Reef Sharks and not forgetting a turtle or two.

On the second dive we found a Silver Tip Shark, saw more dolphins, more turtles and an eagle Ray.

On the third dive, we went specifically looking for a hammerhead shark in a place where they're sometimes found. As soon as we got to the bottom there was one swimming below us - he was quite deep though so we couldn't go right down to where he was.

Finally having given up hope of seeing manta rays, three came to visit us on our last dive along with more turtles than I could count.

If you're into diving, save up your money and come here! Or even Fakarava - I've heard it's even better there!

A Coral Atoll (like Rangiroa) from the air

First meeting with a dolphin

More dolphins playing nearby

Friendly Fish - besides the sharks there were thousands of other fish swimming around!

Close encounter with a Silver Tip Shark

Side on view of the Silver Tip

Eagle Ray

You can just make out the Hammerhead shark on the sea floor

Maori Wrasse - one of several we spotted

Schooling Barracuda - they were everywhere

Looking like some bizarre aliens, 2 manta rays approach us

The mantas fly overhead

A turtle on his way to the surface to take some air

One of the many hawksbill turtles I saw in Rangiroa
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