Brad Climpson is a marine biologist who spent the last 20 years living on the edge of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. His passion for the underwater realm has taken him to Fiji, Indonesia, Bermuda, and the Maldives. Here, Brad shares his enthusiasm for one of the world's most remote regions, Polynesia.
As I write this blog, I’m reflecting on what has been a great year of travel and interaction for me in 2016. I’ve been lucky enough to travel with Zegrahm through many parts of the world this year, experiencing different cultures and environments, while also delving into my favorite place in the world—the underwater realm. I’m also looking forward to the future, and what 2017 will bring; it’s shaping up to be a very special year, as well! There are many trips I could talk about, however this would turn into a novel; instead, let me discuss two of my favorite upcoming expeditions, Faces of Polynesia and Tahiti to Easter Island.
Like all Zegrahm expeditions, the cultural aspect of these trips is so phenomenal, I’m already excited! Traveling through Polynesia, we will meet people from Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Niue Island, the Kingdom of Tonga, the Cook Islands, and, of course, French Polynesia. It’s a kaleidoscope of different people, and a testament to their forebears who settled these remote and far-reaching islands many years ago. (If you want to get an idea of the area we cover during this trip, take out a map and look for a bunch of dots in the middle of the South Pacific; that will be us!)
When we travel through Indonesia and Melanesia, we often refer to the Coral Triangle, the area that houses the largest biodiversity in tropical waters anywhere on the planet. Over 76% of all marine species can be found there, which is a tremendous number when you think about the area our oceans cover. But as we move further away from this region, the species number declines; and while that may sound like Polynesia doesn’t have as many creatures to look at, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over 150 million people live and rely on the environments within the borders of the Coral Triangle; as the diversity of marine life declines as you move away from this area, so does the number of people living here. This means that the natural environment has less unnatural effects to deal with, and is quite often healthier. You will see this for yourselves as we navigate further and further across the South Pacific, and you get to see firsthand just how remote and untouched these places are. Equally exciting? Heading into more remote areas means that natural barriers to the dispersal of species will occur. This means that some species will be confined to certain areas, while others can keep moving and traveling on. This break and change in the movements of the marine life can lead to speciation as populations become separated or environments change.
We’ll be traveling on the Caledonian Sky, an amazing expedition vessel with incredible creature comforts and a crew and staff second to none. As we cruise to these remote regions, let us remember that the indigenous inhabitants of this region traveled under much harsher circumstances; and to that, just imagine the marine life’s struggle to travel all this way and colonize these areas! This, for me, is one of the most exciting aspects of traveling through the South Pacific; there is so little land mass here that the ocean currents have little space to form gyres and sub-currents. The species here have mostly had to engage in broadcast or long-distance spawning events to reach these places, leaving the colonization up to the whim of the ocean.
Another unique aspect of traveling through remote regions? The water quality is outrageous! Little effects from humans, plus small land area, means less rivers and less outwash from the terrestrial environment. This all means that there is far less sediment in solution and the clarity of the water becomes incredible. Clear water means great visibility for us and great news for the coral, as the light can penetrate deeper and the coral can colonize more surface area. Win-win!
I haven’t focused on any one place on these two voyages as it would be nearly impossible to pick a favorite. Rather I think I’ll finish with a question to you: Do you like the idea of traveling across an immense expanse of blue ocean while visiting new and interesting cultures, and snorkeling or diving through gin-clear water to interact with an abundance of marine life of every shape, size, and color? If you answered, ‘Yes,’ then these trips are for you! These are some of the most hard-to-reach locations in the world; you can visit them all with Zegrahm Expeditions.
I hope your 2016 was amazing and I wish you all the best for 2017; I hope it brings another year of excitement and new experiences for you. I know it will if we cross paths, as I’m packed and ready to get out and explore the unknown. I hope you’ll join me!