Slick of coral spawn floats over reef in French Polynesia. Aerial photo by Dr. Andrew Bruckner.

Excerpt from blog of Dr. Andy Bruckner, Chief Scientist of the Global Reef Expedition

September 16, 2012  Society Islands from 1000 feet offers a unique perspective of the beauty of French Polynesia as well as some of the challenges we face on the upcoming research mission.  We overflew the eight atolls, most which were roughly circular or elliptical in shape – some with a few low-lying islets covered in coconut palms and scrub forest and others built around rugged, steeply-sloping volcanoes.

Complex reef systems typically enclose deep water lagoons, only a few that are easily accessible, several that connect to the open ocean by a narrow, treacherous channel with a constant strong current, and others that are completely inaccessible and surrounded by a razor-sharp barrier reef.

Huahine Island, French Polynesia.

Low-lying areas typically have groves of coconut palms extending to the shoreline, broad stretches of untouched sandy beaches, isolated coves,  and crystal-clear, turquoise-colored deep-water lagoons carpeted with coral bommies that extend to just below the water’s surface.  All of the atolls have a reef flat and reef crest that forms a barrier between the calm, protected lagoonal environment and the wave-exposed outer reefs, and are surrounded by complex spur and groove formations that extend into deep blue open ocean.

Fringing reef, Huahine Island.

To follow along and see more photos, please visit us on Facebook! You can also follow the expedition on our Global Reef Expedition page, where there is more information about our research and team members.

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