Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) are a vulnerable species of shark that make their home along the sandy bottoms of mangroves and reefs. They get their name from their yellow hue (perfect for blending into the ocean’s sandy bottom). They’re surprisingly social creatures, preferring to stick together in groups. While they’re not aggressive or considered a threat to people, it’s best to keep a little distance so that they never feel threatened. You’ll likely see lemon sharks while in the waters of Moorea and Bora Bora.
While they glide through the water (and if you’re lucky, sometimes the air) like something out of the latest sci-fi film, manta rays (Manta birostris and Manta alfredi) can grow to have a wingspan of 29 feet. Despite this — and their nickname, “devil fish,” due to two horn-shaped fins at the front of their heads — they are exceedingly gentle giants, feeding almost exclusively on planktonic organisms. As this species is also vulnerable, observing these majestic creatures in the wild is like finding a needle in a haystack … or a fish in the ocean. They’ve been known to frequent Rangiroa and Fakarava from September to October, and you’re also likely to see them in the waters of Nuka Hiva.
When you close your eyes and picture a sea turtle, it’s likely you’re imagining a hawksbill. Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are named for their narrow, pointed beaks — perfect for preying on the sponges, sea anemones and jellyfish of coral reefs. While they can be found throughout the world’s tropical oceans, they are critically endangered, with their population having declined by over 80% in the last century. Despite this, there’s still an outsized chance you cross paths with one on your trip, so long as it includes the chance to snorkel or scuba dive in the waters of Aitutaki.
Again, an ideal way to visit the isles of the South Pacific is on a cruise with Paul Gauguin Cruises. Not only will you have the opportunity to dive thanks to their retractable watersports marina and onboard PADI certification course, but you’ll also enjoy all the modern trappings of a luxury cruise — butler service (in category B and above), three sumptuous dining venues, and a book library as well as spa and beauty services. Our agents know Paul Gauguin Cruises well, so we can help you choose, plan and book your cruise vacation to perfection.