Moorea the Beautiful + Spinner Dolphins Too

Moorea is one of the South Pacific islands that are part of the Society Islands, one of the five major island groups that form French Polynesia – which consists of 118 islands in total. Moorea has become a major tourist destination, specifically for North Americans, visited by many tourists because of its striking landscape and beautiful waters. The island is somewhat “heart shaped” and is encircled by coral reefs with natural occurring reef openings that align with the lava flow fields that were on land when the Island was first formed.  Many of the scenes for the 1984 movie, The Bounty, depicting the mutiny on the Bounty story, were filmed at Opunohu Bay here at Moorea.  Currently, the Island’s economy continues to be depressed due to the lasting effects of the 2008 recession.

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Mary Jane and I chose to learn more about dolphins while in this beautiful part of the world. We joined Dr. Michael Poole’s eco-tour that he operates 2 or 3 half days per week. He has conducted research project in this area for the last 25 years on wild, free-ranging spinner dolphins and pilot whales.  Spinner dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, and pilot whales are seen around Moorea, with the spinner dolphins regularly coming inside the reef that surrounds the island.  By boat we were able to see schools of acrobatic dolphins and heard an excellent commentary on the life and interaction of these mammals.  We also learned about the geology of French Polynesia and enjoyed the beauty of the island from the water.

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We are convinced that Moorea is the most beautiful of the Polynesian islands, but a challenge to photograph expertly. There seemed to be a blue haze that interfered with a great number of our photographs both from land and from the water.  Probably the high humidity contributed to the haze.

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The spinner dolphins are the smallest variety of dolphins, about half the size of humans. They like to frolic through the waters and actually spin vertically and horizontally.  They slap their tails against the water for no known reason even though the researchers have been trying to figure it out.  Our guide said they thought it meant different things at different times – depending on the context.  Sort of like when you hold your hand up in front of you.  Does it mean Hello or Stop or Slow Down?  It is all in the context.  Needless to say, trying to photograph their antics was challenging without a sports lens on the camera, but you can get the idea.  We enjoyed the tour very much and appreciated the amount of research these dedicated people are doing so that the species can be saved for later generations.

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One Response to “Moorea the Beautiful + Spinner Dolphins Too”

  1. Moorea was the subject of a House and Garden network show on House Hunters International on Thursday. Like you say, the island is gorgeous and this couple from Los Angeles was giving up congested city life to move back to the wife’s native island of Moorea. The place is breathtaking. Thanks for all the commentary on the dolphins and the beautiful pictures. The “needle” photo reminded me of the Io Needle on Maui. Quite similar. Obviously, you are enjoying the trip!

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