A Journey of Discovery to French Polynesia

© Stoney Creek Shipping Co. Ltd.

The Braveheart, shown at anchor in Moorea, French Polynesia, will be our home during the expedition.

For the next three weeks, join me as I travel with a team of leading scientists to explore the marine environment of French Polynesia’s Austral and Gambier islands in the southern Pacific Ocean.

During the expedition, we will examine the biodiversity of these waters to better understand how they compare to other areas in the South Pacific, such as the remote Pitcairn Islands and the Kermadecs off New Zealand’s North Island.

This is a great opportunity for me as a staff member for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Global Ocean Legacy project. The project has been working with local communities, governments, and scientists around the world to promote the concept of large-scale marine reserves to protect unspoiled ocean environments such as these three.

Expectations are high that the expedition, led by New Zealand’s Auckland Museum, will result in the discovery of known species not previously found in these waters as well as the possible discovery of species previously unknown to science. The findings will contribute to ongoing research to better understand connections among the marine species of northern New Zealand and the southern Pacific. This research builds on Auckland Museum expeditions in 2011 and 2013 to the Kermadec and Three Kings islands.

© Google Maps/Amelia Connell

Our voyage in the Pacific Ocean will take us between Tauranga in New Zealand and the sampling sites in French Polynesia.

Our crew will depart from the port of Tauranga in northern New Zealand aboard the research vessel (RV) Braveheart. We will make an eight-day journey across the ocean before we reach land again in French Polynesia and begin our sampling. If all goes according to plan, we will spend a few days sampling in the waters off each of the Austral and Gambier islands, including stops at the subtropical reefs of Rapa Iti, Morotiri, the submerged Neilson Reef, the reefs around the islands of Morane, Mangareva, and Temoe, and the submerged reef of Banc Portland.

An exciting journey of discovery awaits. I look forward to embarking on this voyage across the southern Pacific and being among the first scientists to explore in depth the connections among French Polynesia, the Kermadecs, and other Pacific regions. You can follow our progress at www.pewtrusts.org/pacificdiscovery.

Amelia Connell, who is based in Wellington, New Zealand, works on Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy campaign to create a marine reserve in the Kermadecs.

National Homeownership Month


37 Researchers Working to Transform Biomedical Science

Quick View

Biomedical researchers are on the front lines of scientific innovation. From responding to global pandemics to pioneering lifesaving cancer treatments, these researchers push past scientific boundaries to solve pressing health challenges. For nearly 40 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported more than 1,000 early-career biomedical scientists committed to this discovery.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.