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Cladium growing around the Kopara pond

Ia Ora Na

Greetings from Tetiaroa! First of all we hope you and your family are well during these difficult times. Everyone here on Tetiaroa is fine and we have been hard at work. French Polynesia went through a period of “confinement” from mid March to mid-May. At that point there were no cases of COVID in the territory. Then in mid-July tourists were welcomed back to the islands. As you will read below Tetiaroa Society has kept busy with conservation work and now it is back to business as usual with resort guests and scientists. Stay safe, and we hope to see you here again in the future.
Frank Murphy

The Brando Re-Opens

The Brando re-opens

On July 15 French Polynesia discontinued any quarantine measures for tourists. The Brando also resumed services for guests on the same day. For the rest of the month the resort welcomed both local guests, and those from the US and Europe. The government of French Polynesia does require incoming tourists to have negative results for a COVID-19 test submitted within 72 hours of travel, and upon arrival they are given another test to take after 4 days in the islands.

All of the inhabitants of Tetiaroa are now following strict protocol to minimize contact in order to protect themselves and the guests.

Onetahi and Honuea say 'Goodbye' to rats!

goodbye rats

As most of our readers know, we have embarked upon a major conservation project to protect endangered seabirds, migrating turtles, and other native flora and fauna from non-native predatory rats. Importantly, we are also seeking in this ambitious project to scientifically establish for the first time the harmful impact that invasive rats can have on coral by their devastating impact on the natural ecosystem.

We are now making major progress on this project with the assistance of Island Conservation, one of the world's leaders in helping to protect native flora and fauna from invasive aliens species and hence helping to prevent species extinction. Over the past month we have been busy eradicating rats on two of the islets of Tetiaroa, motu Onetahi (where The Brando Resort is located ) and motu Honuea (a short distance from Onetahi).

When the eradication program planned for the whole atoll was delayed until 2021 because of Covid-19 complications, Tetiaroa Society and Island Conservation decided to take the opportunity, with The Brando closed, to do a ground-based eradication on these two motu. This also served to employ Tetiaroa Society staff during this economically difficult time.

Organizing the rat eradication project

Doing the eradication by hand meant setting up a 25 x 25 meter grid across both motu, that is then used to distribute the bait by hand in a systematic way. The eradication team worked for six weeks to cut through vegetation and plant 3,000 stakes along 75 kilometers to establish this grid. Then Tetiaroa Society welcomed 20 volunteers who came to Tetiaroa for a week to help distribute the bait. The first round of baiting was delayed by rain but took place on July 17 and 18, and the bait was carefully spread out across the two motu. This was the first of two baiting sessions and the second will occur around August 9-10. For the weeks after baiting, bait stations are being maintained in all buildings on Onetahi.

The whole program will be finished by early September, and these two motu will be rat free. The Brando and Tetiaroa Society have also been working together to implement a Biosecurity Plan for the island to insure that no invasive species will be introduced in the future. We are extremely fortunate to have an outstanding group of committed volunteers that are making this project possible.

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Organism of the month : Cladium mariscus

Cladium borders the kopara pond
 Cladium grows in a wide border between the kopara pond and the  forest on motu Rimatu'u. 

Hey baby, (*Don't) take a walk in the sawgrass

Our organism of the month is Cladium mariscus (subspecies jamaicense), otherwise known by its English common name as “sawgrass” or in Tahitian as uti uti. This hardy sedge, which looks inviting but can easily slice into your skin with its saw-like edges, grows in wet and slightly submerged habitat around the lakes and depressions that dip into the water table on the motu.

On Tetiaroa it is found on seven of the motu, most notably around the lakes on Horoatera and Rimatu'u. It is difficult to walk through given the growth density and the “saw” part of the sawgrass name. Where there are trails through it you can see that the cladium marshes are creating a layer of peat that is soft and spongy underfoot.

Cladium mariscus swamps are important stores of carbon in the form of deep organic peat soils, originating from years of build-up of decomposing plant litter.

cladium mariscus
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Tetiaroa Society receives generous support from The Brando for our core operations, but our ability to carry out innovative programs depends on your help -- any amount is appreciated!

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Tetiaroa Society is a US registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (Tax ID #45-1080688). We host scientific research, develop and implement conservation and education programs, and curate the island's knowledge base. We partner with The Brando to establish Tetiaroa as a model for sustainability, where businesses, non-profits, scientists, educators and the local community work together for common goals. Our program objectives are summarized in our Conservation and Sustainable Use Plan, which is available on our website.
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