We have presented many newsletter featuring organisms of the month, and nature notes covering tides and geology, but this month we feature the ocean. June 8th is World Ocean Day, and before that our global initiative addressing ocean protection and climate change, the Blue Climate Summit will convene (14-20 May) and present and accelerate ocean-based solutions to climate change. The future of the planet is in our hands and healthy oceans are critical to any future that involves humans.
Nature Notes | Ocean
"There is a pressing need for the western world to return to a way of thinking that considers the ocean as an entity to be cared for and not simply exploited."
- Frank Murphy
As I sit here on the porch of my bungalow on Tetiaroa, the sounds of the island come from all directions. The brown noddies up in the nearby coconut palms croak and whistle, and the wind whisks the Casuarina needles into a quiet buzz. But the pervasive sound is the ocean pounding the barrier reef, producing a low roar which rises and falls with incoming swells. It reminds me that even though we think of our island – with all its plants, and birds, and crabs, and fish, and turtles – as its own little world; it exists within, and is nourished by, the great Pacific Ocean.
The oceans cover ¾ of the planet and 99% of the space inhabited by living organisms. The Pacific Ocean alone is roughly the same size as all the land on Earth put together. Oceans supply most of our oxygen, and they also absorb a quarter of all CO2 produced by humans.
Modern western culture has not been good to the oceans. Population growth and technology have resulted in a long line of abuses beginning with overfishing, continuing with pollution, and now the looming effects of climate change altering ocean chemistry and temperature. Most experts say that “business as usual” will give us 20-30 years before irreversible tipping points are reached and our oceans are unable to sustain life as we know it.
Polynesian culture, like that of most indigenous people, see themselves as inextricable from nature – they are part of the natural world, as family. The ocean is an ancestor, it has being, and it has rights. You would no more harm the ocean that you would harm you kin. There is a respect and that respect fosters care.
For the Polynesians this relationship with the ocean allowed them to understand it, come to terms with it, and use it to settle the largest piece of the globe of any other people. They don’t see the ocean as something that separates, but as a pathway to islands over the horizon. As I type, the Hawaiian voyaging canoes, Hokulea and Hikianalia, are arriving in Tahiti, having just sailed the ancient route, Kealaikahiki, from Hawaii – the crew finding their way by following signs in the sky and on the ocean around them.
There is a pressing need for the western world to return to a way of thinking that considers the ocean as an entity to be cared for and not simply exploited. We take care of the ocean and it will take care of us.
May 14-20, 2022 French Polynesia A Climate-Positive Event
The Blue Climate Initiative is set for its first Summit – May 14 to 20 in Tahiti. This global convening of carefully selected ocean leaders and champions in the heart of the Pacific will be a uniquely galvanizing, powerful, and impactful event.
The purpose of the Summit is to accelerate ocean-related solutions to climate change, launch major announcements, galvanize task forces, present impact investment opportunities, and provide an international forum for Pacific Islanders to spearhead action on ocean and climate issues.
The Ocean Concert on Friday May 20 at 6PM Tahiti time (9PM PST) will be streamed live and will be available afterwards on pay-per-view. Join us to celebrate our ocean and support Blue Climate projects.
By all standards this first visit was an outstanding success and we look forward to this field course for years to come.
We had an Easter surprise when University of Washington researcher, Eve Hallock, reported that a pair of Masked Boobies that had been sited on the island were now sitting on an egg. These were the first of this species ever sited on Tetiaroa.
The GIS for Tetiaroa has added a new habitat map
The Geographic information System for Tetiaroa, created and managed by Benoit Stoll of Universite de Polynesie Francaise, has added a new Habitat Map of Tetiaroa. The creation of this map was a combined effort by Tetiaroa Society staff and island researchers, and it was ground-truthed by UPF graduate student Poeiti Tuheiava. This map will be extremely useful for all future field work. One of the important uses coming up is to try to predict where seabird colonies will form after rat eradication. Some seabird species need native trees, and some need open sandy areas. With this map we can track the population growth and see what habitats are most suitable for nesting sites.
Island Conservation Project Leader Baudouin des Montiers has been marshaling a group of 18 workers to create a 20 x 20 meter grid across all of the motu. This grid will allow access and accurate locations for the controlled distribution of rat bait for the planned eradication in June. The team is camping out on weekdays and carrying out the grueling work come rain or hot sunny weather and they have had plenty of both.
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!
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.