Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Remoteness of Aitutaki

This is the inside of an irridescent clam on the ocean floor of an atoll in the Cook Islands. I like to snorkel in warm, tropical waters. My husband will tell you that I am good at spotting fish, or in this case, a clam, for him to photograph, and then it is Dave's role to take a deep breath, swim down and take a photo with his waterproof camera.
This is a photo of a brain coral anchored to the edge of the coral reef. The diversity and beauty of life in the South Pacific is dazzling, especially for someone like me who has lived her entire life in the Arizona desert.
The nooks and crannies of the coral reef provide shelter and protection for a colorful array of tropical fish. Snorkeling in the area of a coral reef is like swimming in an aquarium.
Sunlight is a critical element of the life of the coral reef. Many atolls are the remnants of volcanic islands that have sunk into the ocean, but the coral reefs grow up to the sunlight and remain close to the surface.
This is a triggerfish swimming along the sandy ocean floor. I don't know why, but tropical salt water fish are so much more colorful than fresh water fish.
The "land" on some of the Cook Island atolls is composed primarily of sand and shells. The Cook Islands are a New Zealand protectorate located west of Tahiti and the rest of French Polynesia.
If anyone is wondering how palm trees and other vegetation takes hold on the sandy atolls of the south Pacific, there is an answer. Coconuts float in the ocean, are washed up on the beach, and some of them will sprout a tree trunk and then grow roots in the sand.
Countless islands are so shallow that you can walk from one island to the next through the warm, clear water.
We saw these large whit birds nesting in the few trees on an uninhabited island. I think that this might be an albatross.


brattcat said...

Fantastic experience. Thank you for sharing it. I feel as if I've been on holiday with you.

JM said...

Fabulous underwater pictures! I miss snorkeling so much... The triggerfish is awesome and I don't remember seeing this species in the wild.

Memphis MOJO said...

Nice shots, I'm jealous. Is it dangerous diving and snorkeling there?

Barb said...

Wonderful pics,I love to snorkel so I really enjoyed these....Barb said...

Memphis MOJO,
Regarding your question about danger, it was at times tricky to swim over the coral reefs because they grow very close to the surface, and they could cut you.

We did have some black tipped reef sharks swimming around us in Bora Bora, but they do not attack people.

During the same snorkeling trip that we showed today, we did see a giant moray eel. It must have been 8 inches in diameter. We showed him on an earlier post of the Cook Islands, I believe. We looked down on him from the top, and we were careful not to swim out in front of that part of the reef so we would not be in front of his face.

MJ said...

Such a magical feeling, looking at all these photos...I especially love the image of the sprouting coconut palm! Thanks for sharing.

glenda said...

Great underwater shots. It is so peaceful to snorkel and just float along enjoying the view. The palm tree explanation is so interesting. Hadn't thought about that.

Elena said...

Fntastic work! Congratulations! Greetings.

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