Fakarava and Fa’aite, Tuamotu

Jun 19, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Dawn found National Geographic Orion at Tumakohua Pass, which gives entrance to the atoll at Fakarava. This atoll is one of 7 surrounding atolls that have been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for the preservation of rare species. Our early morning scouting boat and SCUBA divers had the chance to swim with many white-tipped and black-tipped reef sharks along with literally dozens and dozens of gray sharks in the shallow waters of this pass.

All looked promising for an exciting morning when mother-nature decided to pull the plug. Two passing squalls converged on this narrow lagoon entrance and the resulting winds whipped up big waves against the outgoing tide. The only possible decision was to abort the morning plan and move on to “Plan B.”

Just 12 nautical miles away lies the island of Fa’aite. As it turns out, no Lindblad/National Geographic ship has ever been here. What a treat our backup plan turned out to be! Some of us chose to go ashore and were welcomed into the small town and given the grand tour while others amongst us “flew” through the inner lagoon on drift snorkel tours that included seeing local fish traps filled with reef fishes of all shapes and sizes as well as getting an up close and personal look at a captured gray reef shark.

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About the Author

Michael Nolan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Michael Nolan was born in Bitburg, Germany to an Air Force family stationed there. His first experience of the ocean came at age 12, when he learned to snorkel in the Italian Mediterranean. At age 17 he moved to Tucson, Arizona and became a PADI SCUBA instructor, before starting a SCUBA diving business that specialized in diving trips to the Sea of Cortez.

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