Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our last morning on Mo'orea before we flew home

Garen and I woke up early to see the sun bring these two bays to life on our last full day on Mo'orea Island. It's easy to rise with the birds here. The island comes alive before the heat of the day. Even most of the chores that the rest of the world leaves to sprinkle throughout the hours, are done between 7 and 9 AM in these parts. By ten o'clock, it is clear why. 

We'd been gone for almost two months, and this morning was less than 48 hours before we would be home in Santa Monica after an adventurous, and at times trying, trip. A special goodbye view of our last stop seemed like the way to go.

Cook's Bay is to the right where the marine lab is, and our home for the past two weeks. 

This is Opanohu Bay, where Capt. James Cook actually arrived. 

A little further inland, we headed through the trees before the mosquitoes had their wake up call. 

And came back out into the day to see the vegetation, bays and ocean in a different light. 

We saw plastics, sure, but we also saw a snapshot of the South Pacific Ocean that illuminated the dire need for Fisheries management, weather patterns that were dry and up to six to nine months out of season, not one dolphin until approx. mile 4,999 of a 5,000 mile trip, and the noticeable absence of reef sharks in waters that should have been teeming with them. 

But it is true, that collecting trash off of my local Southern California Beach on a cold day in March, 2009 sparked off a journey that brought me and my husband across an ocean only two years later to discover, and see for ourselves, everything that I mentioned above. 

Garen was in his element. He gained renewed inspiration to work on coral reef research. Something that makes him truly happy. 

After the first dive he went on a dive off of Mo'orea with Jason and Colleen, I asked him when he was going back. He brushed it aside. I thought this was because it was the end of our budget. 
So I asked again. 

He said, "I can't go back. It's all dead. It's just too depressing to see reefs that way." Mo'orea has had severe storms over the last 5 years, although not a drop of rain for six months past their rainy season until we arrived, and they have also suffered from a Crown of Thorns Starfish outbreak. Google these suckers. They have spines 5 inches or more. They crawl across the reefs, devouring all of the corals in sight, with no natural predators. 

Broken, bleached coral remained instead of the colorful habitats that support diverse, and abundant marine life. I can understand why a coral biologist would pass on another viewing.

We  did see some healthy reefs near the airport. Complete with schools of fish so plentiful, you thought you'd entered another world, and you had, when you put on your mask. 

It took me almost two months to the day to cover our two month experience crossing the South Pacific from Chile to Tahiti. I've been reliving the journey by retelling it here on The Daily Ocean, and I'm sad to see that I've come to the end. 

I'll go back to my local beach this week to resume 20 minute cleanups. I expect it will take some time to get my groove back. I wonder where the next 105 days will take me? One thing is for sure, I don't have a clue right now as I sit at my desk on a Sunday night in July. 

I do make a promise though, that I will share the journey with you here on The Daily Ocean. I hope you'll let me know your thoughts, share your insights and continue to encourage me like so many of you have so graciously done. 

One person can accomplish much on their own. But we don't do any of this by ourselves.