Under the Sun
of the Marquesas Islands
11 March 2019
Like countless painters and composers who have been spellbound by the pristine beauty of the Marquesas Islands, it is now the crew’s turn to be captivated. The WHY has been docked for over a month in Atuona Bay on Hiva Oa island. <br />
But the idyllic setting turned out to be less than ideal. Far from the blissful tranquility of the surrounding lagoons, the plankton-laden ocean is swept by the gusts of wind that run down the mountains. This makes the diving more difficult. Not to mention the shallow waters and scarcity of coral caused by the disappearance of reefs, a lack of light and the churning currents. But none of this has dampened the scientists’ spirits because every specimen counts in an archipelago that is largely unexplored. On each daily outing they encountered a rich array of wildlife from manta rays, marbled rays and tuna to sharks and dolphins. Aldo Ferrucci, the rebreather diving expert, once again joined the teams for more training sessions and to plan excursions for the upcoming capsule program. The first program of its kind anywhere in the world, divers will be able to spend many days completely submerged, resupply and rest inside a capsule several meters underwater.<br />
Before then, the WHY will be stopping in the famed and breathtaking Virgin’s Bay. Then they will head for the Tuamotu and Gambier islands where, in early March, the Under the Pole crews will take up the next part of the DeepHope program, a scientific partnership that includes two years of research in Polynesia and 30 sites studied. Joining them will be program coordinator Laetitia Hédouin and Michel Pichon, the eminent researcher and international coral reef expert. It will be a chance to finish the Arte documentary about the expedition and its findings on deep water coral.