A view of Cook’s Bay taken from the Gump Research Station boat dock
Moorea is one of many islands making up the Society Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collective of France. The official language is French although Tahitian is spoken by many people in the local population. Many people speak or at least understand English, which is fortunate for me as I am struggling to remember French I learned at high school!
All of the Society Islands were formed as volcanoes 1.5 to 2.5 million years ago. Moorea is a heart-shaped island situated approximately 15 km northwest of the island of Tahiti. The island is almost completely surrounded by barrier and fringing reefs, so much so that Charles Darwin, while looking down on Moorea from Tahiti commented how the island looked like a picture in a frame made by the reefs. The lush forested island surrounded by clear turquoise waters makes for beautiful scenery, and I am sure I will come back with many photos like the one posted in this blog.
There are two major bays on the island and the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station (http://moorea.berkeley.edu/), where I am staying, is at the entrance to Cook’s Bay. I will be working with researchers on the Moorea Biocode Project (http://www.mooreabiocode.org) who are based at the Gump Research Station. The Moorea Biocode Project aims to inventory all non-microbial life of Moorea so there are people heading out to collect specimens every day. Let the fun of collecting begin!