On Wednesday, after catching a red eye flight, 2 buses, and a ferry, we arrived at the research station in Mo’orea. We spent the first day settling in, checking out the station, eating the amazing French/Polynesian/American food that they serve at the station, and going for our first snorkel around Gump Reef.
Before we left UCLA, our class had to learn to identify 34 families of fish commonly found on the reefs in Mo’orea. It felt pretty tedious at the time, but when I got in the water, I immediately recognized the box fish, surgeon fish, trigger fish, and other swimming critters that we studied. It was so cool to see the wild, living version of the pictures we saw on projector screens in a UCLA lecture room.
I’ve spent the last few days since arriving exploring the island, familiarizing myself with the flora and fauna of Mo’orea, and obnoxiously sticking my GoPro in the faces of countless sea creatures. We are going to spend the next few days touring the island more, learning how to identify more animals, and doing some last-minute planning of our research projects.