Fakarava Atoll South Pass, Tuamotu Archipelago

Aug 13, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Famous for the pristine and diverse reef ecosystem, Fakarava is a snorkeler‘s and diver’s paradise. Due to conservation protections in place here, the marine environment around Fakarava is considered one of the most spectacular, so much so that we found spending another full day in the waters around the south pass of the atoll well worth our time. Fed by daily tidal flushes pouring through the narrow, but deep, break in the atoll, we witnessed a healthy and thriving reef which in most places achieved 100% coral coverage. This provides a habitat for the largest aggregation of grey reef sharks in the world, numbering in the hundreds. With that balance in place, the remainder of the trophic levels are represented as well. The morning was spent exploring our own private motu (a small coralline, and sand island making up part of the atoll) by paddleboard, snorkel, kayak, and on foot. The afternoon was spent drift snorkeling through the pass taking in the reef life as if it were a movie passing us by, as we casually cruised with the current. In the evening cultural specialist Tua Pittman and naturalist Tom Ritchie gathered us on the bow of the ship to learn about the night sky.

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri


Doug’s passion for the natural world started at an early age in his home state of Michigan. He received two biology degrees from Central Michigan University, and later went on to get a master’s degree in conservation biology. His education led him to study a diverse range of natural sciences, with an emphasis on ecology, animal behavior, and migratory birds. Shortly after leaving the academic world, Doug migrated north to Alaska with his trusty Siberian husky, Koda. He began working as a naturalist in Denali National Park in 1999. For over seven years he has shared his love of Alaska and Denali’s six million acres with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests, as trip leader for the Denali Land Extension based at the North Face Lodge deep within the park.

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