Restoring Balance and Building Climate Resilience on Tetiaroa Atoll

Tetiaroa Atoll serves as a living laboratory for the restoration of terrestrial and marine ecosystems throughout French Polynesia.

Tetiaroa Atoll is famously known not only for its connection to Marlon Brando, but also for its incredible biodiversity. The atoll is made up of 12 islets or motus, which host a diverse array of wildlife, including critical nesting habitat for French Polynesia’s seabirds and Endangered Green Sea Turtles. Beyond the tropical forests and sandy beaches lies one of the world’s most secluded and near-pristine coral reef ecosystems. But, hidden among the natural wonders, introduced, invasive rats threaten the native fauna—eating sea turtle eggs and hatchlings as they emerge from the nest, disrupting seabird nests, and eating native plants.

Tetiaroa birds

Following the successful removal of invasive rats from Tetiaroa’s Reiono Island in 2018, Tetiaroa Society and Island Conservation are working together to protect the natural environment by removing invasive rats from the entire atoll.

You can find out more about the efforts on Tetiaroa Atoll on the 'Tetiaroa Atoll Restoration Program' page.

seabird in flight above Tetiaroa Atoll

Starting in July, operations will begin using a locally-based team to restore two motus—Onetahi, where The Brando Resort is based, and nearby Honuea.

Juvenile booby

Juvenile booby 

Dozens of scientists are involved with this project to gather evidence to document the connection between invasive species removal and its impact on the marine ecosystem.  Restoring the vibrant ecosystem is expected to enhance the diversity and resiliency of the nearshore coral reefs, which has implications for food security and the economic growth in a region that is deeply connected to marine health.

Find out more about Tetiaroa's incredible ecosystem in the Tetiaroa Fact Sheet.

Baby turtles on their way to the lagoon are easy prey for invasive rats

Baby turtles on their way to the lagoon are easy prey for invasive rats

With support from The Brando, the project will also educate the public about the benefits of invasive species removal, explains Penny Becker, Island Conservation’s Regional Executive Director for the U.S. and Southwest Pacific,

As a hotspot of ecotourism, Tetiaroa presents a unique opportunity to educate travelers on how island conservation efforts can help curb the extinction crisis and support healthy oceans.”


Without invasive rats, hatchlings like this little one can survive and prosper. 

Over the next few years, we expect to see both the coral reef and terrestrial ecosystems thriving following the removal of invasive rats, ensuring its health now and into the future.