september 2020
Sooty tern with its egg


Ia Ora Na 

Greetings from Tetiaroa,
This month we have nature and anthropology in the news with research programs on sharks and archaeology featured. We also decided this month to change our format a bit and instead of our normal Organism of the Month article we will do a Nature Notes article that will allow us to cover a larger spread of topics. Our first article this month will describe a day I spent watching birds across the island.

Tetiaroa's Sharks Participate in a Worldwide Study

Tetiaroa's Sharks Participate in a Worldwide Study

French Polynesia is a model for shark conservation as the world’s largest shark sanctuary

Dr. Aaron Wirsing from the University of Washington has been studying sharks on Tetiaroa since 2014 thanks to support from Tetiaroa Society and the Seeley Family. This long-term shark monitoring project has been ideal for contributing to FinPrint - a global collaborative of shark experts sharing data to determine the status of sharks in coastal habitats which has to date covered 371 reefs in 58 countries.

For the first time ever, scientists reported on the conservation status of reef shark populations worldwide in a new study in Nature. Sadly, due to a long history of human exploitation reef sharks are now rare or absent altogether in places that used to be prime habitat.

Yet, there is hope, and a path forward for recovery through marine protected areas.

According to Dr. Wirsing, "One approach is to set aside large areas in the ocean as preserves where suitable habitat can be protected, like French Polynesia which is essentially the world's largest shark sanctuary".

Read more about Dr. Wirsing's findings.

Highlights from baited remote underwater video surveys in French Polynesia. Sampling thanks to Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, Florida International University, and CRIOBE.

What can archery platforms tell us?

goodbye rats
One of the marae on onetahi that was mapped by Aymeric Hermann and PhD student Anatauarii Tamarii-Leal.
 Recent findings from Dr. Guillaume Molle, an Australian National University archaeologist, reveal the strongest evidence yet that the island was the exclusive preserve of the Tahitian chiefly family in the 18th century, thus confirming oral traditions and early westerners accounts. The researchers mapped two rarely-seen archery platforms and a huge open-air temple, used for ceremonial purposes and ritual offerings. Dr Molle said evidence like the archery platforms, the first ever seen on an atoll, give the strongest indication for the presence of the chiefs on Tetiaroa.
"No commoner would have been allowed to mount an archery platform because it was a very elite sport in Tahitian society used for displays of strength, power (mana) and status and we have two here on Tetiaroa", he said.
The Tetiaroa archaeology project is a collaboration between The Australian National University, International Centre for Polynesian Archaeological Research, and the Tetiaroa Society.  You can read the full paper here. 
Read more about their discoveries

Birders Day Out

Birders day out
White tern hovering over potential nesting sites on Motu Reiono 

Introducing ... Tetiaroa Nature Notes

All things relating to the natural history of the atoll - content suggestions are welcome!

And, our first topic is...

Birding Day on Tetiaroa

You don’t have to be a dedicated birder to enjoy watching birds on Tetiaroa. On Tetiaroa, they are not just beautiful but also not as afraid of humans as in most other places because they have no natural predators on Tetiaroa. We find that the best way to pay attention to birds is to go after them with a camera. This forces you to go slowly, be patient, and pay attention to everything around you, while also zeroing in on one bird for a moment to see what it is up to, and, if you’re lucky, capture something special with your camera.

Go birding on Tetiaroa
 Birders checking out the info...

Tetiaroa Society has installed new signs on motu Rimatu'u, just adjacent to Tahiti Iti (Bird Island). They are meant to be used by visitors  come to Tetiaroa by chartered sailboat. The signs provide information about the birds and instructions about how to visit Tahiti Iti and view the birds without disturbing them. The signs are in French and Tahitian since the majority of visitors who come by charter boat are locals.

Donations in action!

Cladium borders the kopara pond

Sharks are important contributors to healthy marine ecosystems, playing the role of top predator. Their conservation is vital to the conservation of coral reef systems. Shark populations have been monitored since 2014 thanks to generous support from Tetiaroa Society and the Seeley Family. Support for long term monitoring is critical to generating crucial data that will inform policy.

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!

cladium mariscussunset

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