Ia Ora Na 

Summer is creeping closer with hotter days, and our Ecostation is bustling with researchers. The Te Mana o Te Moana team is logging more and more kilometers on island beaches and recording green sea turtle nests, and the Institute Louis Malarde team is searching for the last remnants of mosquitos on Onetahi. This month we also welcomed a group of researchers from the University of Washington that are starting a major program to understand the effects of rat removal on seabird populations. Rat eradication is slated for September next year and this is the first of a huge amount of "before" research that needs to be done before that time. This month we are launching a fund-raising drive to support this important work. (Please see our letter below.)

Tetiaroa Society Ambassadors visit Noumea

It is not very obvious to most visitors to Tetiaroa that it is actually part of a municipal commune that includes the town of Arue on the north end of Tahiti. As such the mayor of Arue is also the mayor of Tetiaroa. Tetiaroa Society recognizes this connection by working with the mayor, and elders, and schools of Arue for the Education Program. Last month, the mayor’s office invited Tetiaroa Society to participate with schools and municipal officials in a festival that celebrated the relationship between Arue and its “twin” city of Mont-Dore in New Caledonia. Two representatives of TS, Hinano Murphy and Tihoni Maire, travelled with the Arue delegation to Mont-Dore and shared information about Tetiaroa Society’s programs with the participants.

Read more about their visit

Kaveka - Sooty Tern

As Polynesians voyaged across the Pacific, the Sooty Tern or kaveka, would have played a large role. As the most abundant seabird in Oceania it would have been seen on the open ocean and used as an indicator of fish or land. Then, when Polynesians landed on a new island it would have served as food, in particular the eggs were an important resource.

In modern times however world-wide trends show the Sooty Tern population dropping. Like all other ground nesting birds, they are susceptible to human harvesting of eggs and predation by introduced cats, pigs, and rats.

Tetiaroa therefore is a critical site for the future of these birds in the region.

On Tetiaroa they can only nest in places where they have open ground and no rats, which means only on one of the smallest islands of the Tetiaroa atoll, Tahuna Iti (Bird Island). These birds will be on of the biggest beneficiaries of the upcoming rat eradication since they will be free to move to other open spaces.

Sooty Terns are well known for their long ocean flights and massive breeding colonies. But they are also known for their call. They have a very distinctive call that sounds like the English, “wide awake” and it is loud. The Hawaiian name for this species, ewa ewa means cacophony.

More about these birds

Baseline study of seabirds of Tetiaroa Atoll

Beth Gardner and Sarah Converse, both professors at the University of Washington led a research team to Tetiaroa this month. Their work involves doing a component of  the baseline study on the seabirds of the atoll in the year before rat eradication. They explain their work here...

An open letter to our supporters...

Dear Friends of Tetiaroa Society,

As wildfires and coral bleaching devastated even the wealthiest of places in 2019, the impacts of climate change are coming starkly into focus. With indications of the impending human and ecological disaster from global warming evident now from California to Australia, the task can seem overwhelming. Apart from lobbying governments to ramp up more than their rhetoric, what can be done?

We are writing to you about one action that could help prevent the collapse of one of the planet's richest and most important ecosystems: coral reefs. French Polynesia has been identified as one of the regions where corals are still relatively intact and stand a chance of making it through the century. But we need to maximize their capacity to withstand the coming 'storm'. Scientists and conservation agencies are excited about one new approach and we have a unique opportunity on Tetiaroa to demonstrate its efficacy.

In 2020, we are launching a major program to restore Tetiaroa’s native seabird populations, establish the atoll as a sanctuary for translocating endangered terrestrial birds, and scientifically demonstrate how invasive rodent eradication can enhance coral reef resilience to the climate emergency.

Invasive species are a leading cause of extinctions and biodiversity loss around the world. By eradicating invasive, non-native species – introduced primarily by humans – we can help prevent extinctions and protect natural biodiversity. This is well established. But now we have an opportunity to go further.

There is strong evidence to expect significant increase in coral reef resilience due to the restoration of natural levels of nutrient cycling through rat eradication and the resultant increase in seabird populations. With the scientific capacity on Tetiaroa, we have a chance to conclusively demonstrate that rat eradication represents a valuable new tool to improve the resiliency of coral reefs to warming waters and ocean acidification.

We are exceptionally well placed to mobilize the necessary team of local and international scientists. We already have a team of over 20 scientists to validate the concept and, importantly, help scale it worldwide.

This opportunity has been made possible by two of the largest donations we have ever received. Richard Bailey, President of Pacific Beachcomber, has committed $450,000 in matching funds.

Island Conservation, the world’s foremost organization in preventing island extinctions, is providing another $100,000.

We are now seeking $250,000 by year end. We hope you will join us in this effort by contributing to this important project by year end. Donations of any amount are very much appreciated. You can contribute either online at tetiaroasociety.org or by check sent to Tetiaroa Society, c/o David J. Seeley, PO Box 908, Kirkland, WA 98083-0908.

Thank you for your continued friendship and support.
All the best,

Stan Rowland
Chairman & President
Frank Murphy
Executive Director

Donations in action

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.

©2019 Tetiaroa Society