Moorea, French Polynesia, is home to many marine wildlife species as diverse as the beautiful coral reefs, extensive lagoons and rich seas that surround our tropical island. Moorea Ocean Adventures offers premium private snorkel tours that focus on specific marine wildlife species and encountering them in small groups in a respectful and sustainable way. Below you will find the most iconic species that we see on our tours.
Marine Wildlife Species of Moorea
Cetaceans, sharks, rays, seaturtles, seabirds and pelagic fish
The Humpback Whale is a baleen whale reaching up to 18 meters in length and weighing up to 40 tonnes. The population of Humpback Whales that visits Moorea and Tahiti in French Polynesia migrate over 6,000 km each year from Antarctica. They come here to mate and give birth to a single calf, that is 4 meters and 500kg when born. Here in the warm sheltered waters of Moorea mother Humpbacks nurse their calf and prepare for the migration back to Antarctica.
The Spinner Dolphin is the smallest species of Dolphin found in Moorea reaching just 1.6 meters in length. The island of Moorea plays host to a resident pod of about 160 Spinner Dolphins year round. In the morning Spinner Dolphins can be reliably encountered in the bays and lagoons. During the night they form hunting parties and head offshore for fish and crustaceans. We can recognize several dolphins from their unique markings!
The rough-toothed dolphin is found off shore from Moorea, all year round. A medium sized dolphin, the rough-toothed is usually encountered on our Big Blue Discovery, often in groups of 5 to more than 20 individuals. We can often snorkel with the rough-toothed dolphins in the sea as they are often approachable and quite curious with the swimmers.
Short-finned Pilot Whale
The Pilot Whales are usually encountered off shore and quite often in large groups of up to 50 individuals consisting of males, females and juveniles. The pilot whales are a large bodied dolphin and usually moving quite slowly. We can sometimes join them in the water for a snorkeling encounter like no other but only for advanced snorkelers due to the possible presence of pelagic sharks around the whale pod.
Other Cetacean Species
Blainville Beaked Whales, Risso Dolphins, Dwarf Sperm Whales, Minke Whales or Pygmy Killer Whales are only a few examples of the other cetacean species we sometimes meet while we explore the open ocean. Meeting these uncommon species is always an incredible moment but also an opportunity to learn more about a lot of unknown aspects of their ecology.
This species is encountered on our signature ray and shark lagoon snorkel encounters. These stingrays are up to 1.2 meters in disc width, feeding primarily on invertebrates and fish they find in the sand bed. As an iconic species of the Moorea lagoon, these stingrays offer a unique opportunity for our guests to approach large marine species for the first time.
Spotted Eagle Ray
These rays are also commonly known as Leopard Rays. Usually seen in the channels of the lagoon, the reef passes and during our ‘underwater flying adventure’ the eagle ray is a large bodied ray of up to 1.5 meters. The feed on crustaceans they find while digging in the sandy bottom. Join us to fly with the eagle rays!
Blacktip Reef Shark
The Blacktip reef shark is another iconic species of the health and vitality of the lagoon in Moorea. These small sharks, measuring up to 1.7 meters, are small fish eaters and inhabit the lagoon and outer reef slope. We see them everywhere in the lagoon and especially at the stingray bank. Shy, inquisitive and beautiful!
Almost blind, this shark has an excellent smell. It can exceed three meters long and is often encountered in the bays and in the lagoon of Moorea. Its lumpish gait gave this species the nickname of sea cow or sleeper shark. Indeed, during the day, he spends most of his time sleeping in a cave or a reef hole.
The lemon shark is a stocky and powerful shark which can grow to 3.4 meters. It is named for its unusual and bright yellow or brown pigmentation and color. Common unhabitant of Moorea reefs,lemon sharks are benthic species (living and hunting near the bottom) and have a complex social behavior.
Gray Reef Shark
Fishermen of French Polynesia know very well this species called “raira” which often shows curiosity to the divers. This territorial predator is, after the blacktip shark, the most common species in Moorea even if it is quite rare in the lagoon. With a size of two meters or more, it makes our Shark Swim really unique.
Oceanic Whitetip Shark
This pelagic shark has no natural predator and has no fear for all the species he meets in the open ocean. Swimming with the OWT is totally possible when some strict safety rules are respected. It becomes then a magical moment ! These sharks are sometimes met near dolphins or whales.
Meet this pelagic species is always a rare chance as their population decreases all over the world due to overfishing by longlines. Its name comes from the very special texture of its skin. Solitary and curious, they often approach close to the snorkelers for an unique and unforgettable underwater experience.
Other Sharks and Rays
Rare in Moorea, Manta Rays and Whale Sharks are pelagic fish encountered in the open ocean where they look for plankton. We also meet sometimes the rare scalloped hammerhead shark while it swims close to the surface.
Green Sea Turtle
The Green sea turtle is one of the most common species of sea turtle encountered on our tours here in Moorea. The Green sea turtle is one of the largest species we encounter. Feeding on algae and sponge the Green sea turtle breeds here in Moorea, lays eggs on beaches of French Polynesia and is an iconic species of local conservation efforts.
The Hawksbill sea turtle is another species of marine turtle that is often encountered in the bays and outer reefs of Moorea. The Hawksbill is a medium sized sea turtle that feeds on sponge and algae on the reef. The Hawksbill breeds in Moorea and is a protected species.
Booby pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals, and are also spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface and may catch leaping fish while skimming the surface. The Boobies follow our boat hunting for fish who evade our boat.
Able to fly for weeks on wind currents, frigatebirds spend most of the day in flight hunting for food, and roost in trees at night. They mainly feed on fish and squid caught on the surface when chased to the surface by tuna. Frigatebirds are thieves, robbing other seabirds in the air for their food, and they are even known to snatch fish right from a guides hands at the Stingray bank.
Terns and Noddies
Terns ‘ pale plumage is easily seen from a distance at sea, and attracts other birds to a good feeding area for this fish eating species. While terns feed on fish caught by diving from flight, noddies feed on fish and squid which they gather by flying low over the surface of the sea and picking them up. They can be a great assistant helping us to find the rough toothed dolphins in the open ocean.
Tropical Shearwaters, Tahitian Petrels or Tropical Tailed Birds are quite common encounters during our tours offshore. Each species has an unique behaviour very interesting to watch from our boat.
List of Marine Species
|Blacktip reef shark||X|
|Whitetip reef shark||X|
|Gray reef shark||X|
|Scalloped hammerhead shark||X|
|Oceanic whitetip shark||X|
|Giant manta ray||X|
|Reef manta ray||X|
|Spotted eagle ray||X|
|Green sea turtle||X|
|Blainville's beaked whale||X|
|Cuvier's beaked whale||X|
|Short-finned pilot whale||X|
|False killer whale||X|
|Melon headed whale||X|
|Pygmy killer whale||X|
|Dwarf sperm whale||X|
|Portuguese Man of war||X|
|Red footed booby||X|
|Tropical tail bird||X|
|Great crested tern||X|
|White-faced storm petrel||X|