Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuamotu Archipelago

The Tuamotu Archipelago are a chain of atolls in French Polynesia and the largest chain of atolls in the world, spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe.  For those that don't know, atolls are cool ring islands of corral that encircle a lagoon... so ring islands.

image care of http://www.ventanasvoyage.com/images/coral%20atoll.jpg

 The population of these atolls is a mere 15,000  who make a living off of black pearls and the preparation of copra, a coconut food product.  Much of the tourism trade is in the cook islands and Tahiti, leaving this area more pristine.  Having said that, the Tuamotu's contain the atoll Moruroa, site of 193 French nuclear bomb tests between 1966 and 1996.

All of the islands of the Tuamotus are coral "low islands": essentially high sand bars built upon coral reefs.  Because of this there is sparce vegetation and drinking water is all from rain water.  As can be expected, animal life is also sparce, consisting of birds, insects and lizards.  Below water.... that's a different story and I suspect Mike and Hyo will eventually have many pictures to post of the diverse life below land.

 image courtesy of http://www.tahiti.pictures-pacific.com/tuamotu/rangiroa-sauvage.jpgg

info and pictures from wikipedia/wikimedia

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