Makatea, Tuamotu Archipelago

Jun 12, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


National Geographic Orion made good time en route from the Society Islands toward the Tuamotu Archipelago. As dawn broke, the early risers were rewarded with the first glimpses of our destination, Makatea. The island is unlike anything else in the region, in stark contrast to the flat motu’s and gradual islands, Makatea meets you with 80m high white cliffs. The island is a raised coral atoll and, owing to its significant phosphate deposits, has a history of intensive mining between 1917 and 1964.

During the morning we journeyed across the upper plateau in search of the fresh water grotto. The name Makatea is derived from these grottos within the island that the local people used to collect drinking water. We descended into the depths of the island along a dimly lit path to the water’s edge below. The brave among us ventured into the water and were rewarded with a once in a lifetime experience. Inside a cave, in the middle of an up lifted coral reef, somewhere in the South Pacific.

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About the Author

Jimmy White

Jimmy White

About the Photographer

James Coleman

Naturalist

Jamie is from England. He grew up in Oxford, about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK, yet somehow decided he would work in marine biology and conservation. Ever since he reached his teens, he has dedicated time to this passion, working and volunteering in various roles on nature reserves and in aquariums. It was no surprise that in 2007, he left home to study marine biology at the University of Newcastle.

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