Sandy Beaches of Aitutaki Motus

We went snorkeling in the lagoon of Aitutaki Island and explored some of the smaller Islands in the lagoon called “motus”. The first was named Motu Ketiu and had multiple species of birds nesting on the Motu. I was able to identify red footed boobies, brown boobies, red tailed tropic birds, white tailed tropic birds, common terns, and I was excited to see my first frigate birds.
The next Motu was a newly formed sand bar that had a few coconut saplings (locally called “huto”). We had lunch and made our first UAV launch from this particular Motu.
We then ventured to a large Motu where the Tasmanian Empire Airways Limited had set up a stopping point in the early 1950s. Here we tested our sandy beach protocol and found that the beaches on these motus are low in diversity unless coring is done in knee deep water, where multiple species of tube worms and crustaceans were found.
Overall, quite a few discoveries were made today that filled the group with anticipation for the future research yet to be done.


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