Society Islands – 2019

Dates: February 5 – March 4, 2019
Lead Organization: SIO


Scripps Institution of Oceanography:
Dr. Brian Zgliczynski, Postdoctoral scholar
Lindsay Bonito, Staff researcher
Samantha Clements, Staff researcher
Chris Sullivan, Staff researcher

Centre for Island Research and Environmental Observatory:
Marguerite Taiarui, Benthic Surveys Assistant
Gilles Siu, Ichtyological Survey Supervisor
Yannick Chancerelle, Benthic Surveys Supervisor

CSU Monterey Bay:
Dr. Alison Haupt, Assistant Professor

Moss Landing Marine Laboratory:
Dr. Scott Hamilton, Associate Professor
Rachel Brooks, Graduate student


Building from an initial site visit in 2016 to Mo’orea, the 100 Island Challenge team completed a full month-long expedition to the Society Islands in February 2019. Our team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been working collaboratively with the Centre for Island Research and Environmental Observatory (CRIOBE) to share data and methodologies to better understand the coral reef dynamics through time within the French Polynesia region. Dr. Stuart Sandin and Dr. Brian Zgliczynski traveled to the CRIOBE field station on Mo’orea to establish a partnership with the former Director, Dr. Serge Planes, to facilitate the collection of reef-scale monitoring data using our large-area imaging techniques. From this initial visit, our San Diego based team partnered with CRIOBE staff to complete an expedition to the Tuamotus archipelago in late 2017.

The most recent field deployment focused on surveying the Society (Leeward) Islands within French Polynesia, which includes Tahiti, Mo’orea, Tetiaroa, Raiatea, and Huahine islands. Our aim was to continue our standardized collection of fish and benthic community data, in addition to deploying temperature sensors throughout the region to place the islands within a greater oceanographic context. Supplemental to the standard surveys was the collection of fish specimens to support an NSF-funded project led by Dr. Chelsea Wood at Stanford University. Dr. Wood has been a collaborator of the Sandin Lab, with a research focus on the diversity and abundance of parasites within marine habitats and how their assemblages might shift relative to human impacts. This project builds from earlier work conducted in conjunction with the Smith and Sandin Labs in the Line Island archipelago, investigating parasite diversity shifts along a gradient of human pressure. To further develop our partnership with CRIOBE, the 100IC team trained the benthic monitoring staff on the large-area imaging techniques to support the monitoring efforts throughout the region (e.g. Polynesia Mana).

Thanks to the support of collaborators at CSU Monterey Bay and Moss Landing Marine Lab, our team was able to survey 60 sites during the trip, collecting fish assemblage data at all 60 sites and mosaic imagery at 52 sites. Temperature sensors were deployed at 17 sites, with a few more to be deployed in the coming months. The team is planning to return in winter 2021 to re-survey the established sites to track change in the benthic and fish communities.