Biopapua / Vitu Islands and its inhabitants
28 September 2010
Once arrived in the Vitu Archipelago, on the morning of September 27, we start as usual our dredging and trawling operations to evaluate the benthic diversity of the area. The first harvests are promising, as they are rich in wood.
We are interrupted by the arrival of pirogues: the inhabitants of the Vitu Archipelago pay us a visit, and are curious about what we are fishing for. They offer fresh coconuts and oranges from their island. We chat with them and take this opportunity to make provisions of fresh fruits. We stop our operations early in the afternoon as we have a long way to our next destination: unexplored offshore seamounts, south of Manus Island. We ring Alis’ horn to say goodbye to the inhabitants of the Vitu Archipelago and thank them for their warm welcome.
On the way, we find very calm seas, and a few hours after we left, lieutenant Loïc Le Goff, on watch during our transit, notices the presence of a group of dolphins. We admire this impressive pod of over 50 individuals from the upper deck. Some dolphins come play near the bow of the Alis. A poetic moment between two periods of work.
We continue our route towards the seamounts of the Bismarck Sea, where we should arrive on the 28th .
We arrive, around 6 am, and discover the topography of the area thanks to the charts put together with our multibeam system. These maps allow us to target precise locations. The first seamount seems to be still active, as our trawl only brings back rocks rich in manganese. The second seamount is more interesting, as its fauna is more diversified. However, the benthic communities from these seamounts are far less diversified than the communities sampled by our team on the seamounts of New Caledonia. We leave for our next destination, Manus Island.