JBL Expedition South Seas I and II

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If there is a superlative for an intact underwater world, then that superlative is TUAMOTU-ARCHIPELAGO in the South Pacific!

It was actually supposed to be ONE JBL expedition, but once divers AND snorkellers signed up, it became TWO. Because the most beautiful places for divers in the South Seas are definitely not the most ideal places for snorkellers. Teams of 10 people each spent 15 days exploring the underwater fauna of the South Seas and collecting lots of important data for the aquaristics.

The South Pacific is already at the end of the world and the Tuamotu archipelago is even further away. There's not much to see above water. Just some coral sand with palm trees. But if you take a look under the water surface, you will find an underwater paradise that sadly no longer exists anywhere else on this planet.

    A three-day journey can be exciting too

    From Germany, it takes around 20 hours by plane and two overnight stays (San Francisco & Tahiti) to land on the 600-soul atoll of Fakarava. So it’s worth not only changing planes at the airports, but also using the stops to explore the respective regions a little.

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    A luxury hotel with sails: The Aquatiki III

    The catamaran became our home for 15 days and nights. Sometimes we were only travelling for a few hours to reach the next dive spot, but sometimes we were at sea for 11 hours, motoring and sailing.

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    Snorkelling in shallow water amongst sharks

    Not all of the participants had already had encounters with sharks and so some felt uneasy when reef sharks were present while snorkelling. But in the evening we organised a specialist lecture on interactions with these elegant predators.

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    Deadly currents

    If you want to dive or snorkel in or near atolls, you must first learn how the currents work there. Otherwise you are putting your life in absolute danger!

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    Rare fish species

    As a marine aquarist, you have an eye for when something rare swims in front of your diving goggles. These can include, let’s say, black surgeonfish with a body diameter of 30 cm. At first we thought it was a colour morph of the brown tang (Zebrasoma scopas).

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    Water and light measurements, results

    Water tests were on the agenda, of course. Measurements were taken both inside a lagoon and outside in the open ocean. And of course we measured the water parameters with JBL PROAQUATEST water tests.

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    Shark encounters and interactions

    Sharks are the cherry on the cake. They may not be the ideal aquarium inhabitants, but they are such interesting animals that you can’t help being fascinated every time you come across these top predators of the seas.

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    Perfect hard corals but hardly any soft corals

    The stony coral formations were quite sensational! There were fields of Acropora table corals at a depth of 30 metres, stretching over 150 metres and extending from the steep edge at 20 metres down to a depth of 40 metres.

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    Playing Robinson Crusoe

    Travelling through the South Seas and seeing deserted islands makes you want to conquer one and live the Robinson Crusoe experience. And our team had the urge to explore and search for creepy crawlies. Setting foot on a footprint-free desert island is an experience like no other.

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    As our boat anchored, many waiting fish swam to our stern. That’s the best place to find food when the caterer cooks for the crew and passengers. Although the offerings were only partially suitable for them, it was very exciting to see how the different fish species reacted to the food on offer!

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    Feeding trials under water

    Besides kitchen waste we had underwater feeding experiments on our agenda, as on every JBL expedition. Due to the extreme currents, only sites in areas with slight currents, such as the anchorage within the lagoons, were feasible.

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    Deadly cube jellyfish or a harmless species?

    One evening at the stern of the Aquatiki III, our group members were watching the sharks as usual, when one of us saw a jellyfish. We immediately found a jar and caught it. It was undoubtedly a cube jellyfish! The notorious Australian sea wasp (Chironex fleckeri), the cause of many fatal accidents in humans, belongs to this group.

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    Fascinating fluorescence at night

    Expedition leader Heiko had brought along some special technical equipment to photograph the beautiful fluorescence of the corals underwater at night. The effort required for such fluorescence photos is quite high, but the results are worth it.

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    Picture galleries

    If you don't want to search for long in the individual chapters, you will find the best photos of animals, landscapes, the team and plants here

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