March 9, 2015

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A word from our amazing new partners at the Tetiaroa Society:

The Tetiaroa atoll is special place for many reasons. Located 33 miles north of Tahiti, this ring of 12 motus (islets) is a place of legend for Polynesians where Tahitian Royalty would visit to relax, take stock and to indulge in the rich and beautiful landscape. It’s a place that fascinates, as Marlon Brando found when he visited while scouting filming locations for Mutiny on the Bounty in 1960. Seven years later, he completed his purchase of Tetiaroa with a burning desire to learn from it, to protect its beauty, and to preserve it for the Tahitian people and their way of life that he so dearly loved.

In the 1970s, he began working on projects to generate electricity sustainably and to establish a university on the atoll with the hope of bringing the best scientists from around the world to learn from and protect the oceans.

Original plans for Tetiaroa University. Photo Credit: Brando Enterprises

Original plans for Tetiaroa University. Photo Credit: Brando Enterprises

Today, energy used on Tetiaroa is generated from the sun and coconut oil; cooling is provided by deep ocean water, another of Marlon’s wishes; and an Ecostation with a dry lab, wet lab and a dorm for up to 20 researchers has been established. The concerted efforts of a unique team, including Marlon Brando’s estate, is carrying out the vision to make Tetiaroa a platform where creative ideas can flourish and be shared with the rest of the world.

Tetiaroa Society, the embodiment of that vision, is a 501(c)(3) U.S. nonprofit organization aimed at leading and inspiring sustainable interdependence through conservation, education, and creative science. Established in 2010 with a focus that marries cultural wisdom and modern science, efforts are made to weave lessons from the past with the cutting edge research that takes place on Tetiaroa today.

Tetiaroa Society’s Ecostation is also known as The House of Multiple Sciences, or Te Fare rua ihi as named during a blessing ceremony led by Tahitian cultural leaders. Photo Credit: Christophe Cozette

Tetiaroa Society’s Ecostation is also known as The House of Multiple Sciences, or Te Fare rua ihi as named during a blessing ceremony led by Tahitian cultural leaders. Photo Credit: Christophe Cozette

Researchers from around the world study the activity in Tetiaroa’s 4.5-mile wide lagoon. The research program is guided by Tetiaroa Society’s Scientific Advisory Board, which is comprised of leading scientists from French Polynesia, the United States, Oceana and Europe, including Mission Blue’s very own Sylvia Earle.

Current projects include:

  • An ocean acidification study with the University of Washington
  • Sea turtle research with Te Mana O Te Moana
  • Autonomous reef monitoring and biocube projects with the Smithsonian Institution
  • An innovative mosquito control project with Institut Louis Malardé
  • A study of shark nurseries with researchers from The Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory (CRIOBE), the University of Washington, and Florida International University
  • Archeological surveys and restoration projects with archeologists from French Polynesia, UC Berkeley and New Zealand
  • And now a three-year fish and crustacean replenishment project with CRIOBE and Mission Blue, with financial support from Biotherm, one of Mission Blue’s foundational partners
A Submersible Autonomous Moored Instrument (SAMI) monitors the lagoon water on Tetiaroa. Photo Credit: University of Washington

A Submersible Autonomous Moored Instrument (SAMI) monitors the lagoon water on Tetiaroa. Photo Credit: University of Washington

Tetiaroa Society pursues like-minded organizations to support its research, including its atoll neighbor, The Brando, recognized for its innovative sustainability programs in the Earth Changers category for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards.

Tetiaroa holds a special place in the hearts of Tahitians, and it is now becoming a special place for scientists from all corners of the earth. Learn more at www.tetiaroasociety.org.

Featured image (top): Tetiaroa. Photo Credit: Tim McKenna and The Brando

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