Today was a beautiful, sunny day as we woke up in Bora Bora. It’s also the final day of the 31st running of Hawaiki Nui Va’a, a three-day, 129-kilometer canoe race that takes place every November where competitors race from Huahine to Bora Bora. While this wasn’t on our initial itinerary, the amazing Lindblad Team aboard National Geographic Resolution was able to work it into our journey, giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity to stand (or wade) along the finish line and witness the culmination of this incredible event. Over a hundred teams competed in Va’a, a traditional style of outrigger canoes that have been used by Polynesian communities for travel throughout the Pacific Ocean for over 4,000 years. After learning about the history of these vessels over the course of our expedition from Master Navigator, Tua Pittman, it was amazing to see them in action as they barreled towards the finish line. Taking advantage of our time in Zodiacs, the National Geographic Visiting Scientist Team (Adi, Kelly, and Jet) took water samples using the plankton net and Niskin bottle before heading back to the ship for lunch.
In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to board a catamaran and head over to a sandbar for some snorkeling, where we saw blacktip reef sharks and stingrays (the Jenkins’ whipray). Those who were keeping an eye out also saw a few pufferfish! Keeping the water activities going, we jumped back on the catamaran (which included live music from local musicians) and made our way over to a quiet beach to watch the sunset, snorkel, walk the beach, and eat some delicious fresh fruit. It was a lovely way to finish our day in Bora Bora before heading back to National Geographic Resolution for an amazing barbecue dinner. The Visiting Scientist Team stayed up after dinner to filter and process the water samples they collected earlier that day. They enjoyed guest visits in the Science Hub to discuss Adi’s research on plankton populations in the South Pacific.