News from the atoll

Ia Ora Na

Heavy rains the last few days signaled the arrival of mid-Summer here in Tetiaroa, although La Nina conditions kept the temperatures cool. Somehow the squalls that thundered by a few times a day, with torrential rains and gusty winds, seemed like the perfect setting to write about a 2020 that has left everyone looking forward to the passing storm.

On the whole, and certainly in comparison with many other organizations and families, Tetiaroa Society survived this year well. We postponed major conservation and research programs due to international and institutional travel restrictions but were still able to get a lot of work done with local scientists, our dedicated staff, and lots of wonderful volunteers. For example, although we postponed our atoll-wide Habitat Restoration Program until 2021, we were still able to marshal the troops and do a ground-based people-intensive eradication of motu Onetahi and Honuea. We were also able to conduct bird and lagoon chemistry surveys as part of our pre-eradication scientific program. Altogether we made significant progress towards our goal of Tetiaroa as a sanctuary for native species and a model for island and coral reef restoration around the world.

Most importantly though, our extended Tetiaroa Society family stayed safe this year. Living on Tetiaroa, while always delightful, had the added virtue this year of being relatively safe from Covid-19. After French Polynesia re-opened its borders in mid-July, it became apparent that eager international travelers figured this out as well and, happily for all of us, guests returned in surprising numbers. This holiday season our guides will be welcoming back many returning friends of Tetiaroa Society.

In saying goodbye to 2020, we are looking forward to a 2021 that is increasingly looking like it will be a year of restoration and growth. Our work here, and with our global Blue Climate Initiative, will contribute to what we hope will be a major international focus on ocean conservation and climate change solutions. We are grateful to be in a position to have a meaningful impact on these issues and are especially thankful to have your support. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and an exceptional New Year.

Warm Regards,
Stan Rowland
Frank Murphy
Executive Director

Nature Notes ... Green sea turtle antics

We are all looking forward to a time of ecosystem restoration,
so will take these green turtle antics as an encouraging sign.

Green sea turtles are an ancient species, whose longevity attests to its success at producing successful offspring season after season. Along with hunting, loss of habitat has been hard on their populations. Here on Tetiaroa researchers and Rangers work together to provide them with a safe place to mate and nest and, as you can see, they are getting on with it.

Read more

Making smiles on Tetiaroa with 'Sourire à la Vie'

Smiles on Tetiaroa

Tetiaroa Society was honored to host a group from the French non-profit Sourire a la Vie. This French non-profit aids cancer patients during and after their treatments and one of their programs includes adventure and educational travel. This group spent 26 days visiting 5 islands in French Polynesia. On Tetiaroa they explored different motu and learned about Polynesian culture and sustainable development. It was a wonderful and rewarding visit for all involved.

Learn more about 'Sourire à la Vie'

Counting Sea Cucumbers Using Drones

University of Washington scientists working on Tetiaroa Atoll discovered a cost-efficient, automated method for surveying sea cucumbers—drones! The research, published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, found that drones could be used as a means to count sea cucumbers in shallow environments, as well as a useful survey planning tool for scuba divers and snorkelers in the field.

Lead author Dr. James Kilfoil said, “This project came about after we noticed an abundance of sea cucumbers while doing drone surveys of sharks in Tetiaroa’s lagoon. The sheer number of sea cucumbers present made counting difficult and time consuming, but by using artificial intelligence models, we were able to automate the process entirely.”

Read more

Frank Murphy and Whale Experiences
Conscious Traveler Podcast

Podcast excerpt of Frank's interview where he shares his experiences with humpback whales as they make their annual migration past the atoll.

swimming with dolphins and whales podcast
Listen now

Stay cozy and show your support

Tetiaroa Society t-shirts are back!  And there are oodles of colors to choose from.   Check out the selection on Bonfire, and thanks for your support.

Find your t-shirt here

Donate & Protect



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!


Share the beauty of Tetiaroa

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.

©2020 Tetiaroa Society

Peruse our past issues