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Sailboat expeditions for the monitoring of cetaceans in the Tuamotu archipelagos, French Polynesia


This mission consists of studying Whales with dollies and other cetaceans living in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Three expeditions of 14 days each are proposed. From Rangiroa, the eco-volunteers will join the Makatea atoll on a sailboat, where they will stay to observe animals. The crew, consisting of a sailor and a biologist, and 3 ecovolunteers, follows a daily program on land or at sea (on the sailboat).

Mission whales in Polynesia Copyright P Carzon


In order to study and better protect the cetaceans of Polynesian waters, three expeditions are planned in 2017, in the Tuamotu archipelago. These expeditions of 14 days take place on a sailboat dedicated to the project, start and end in Rangiroa. The study takes place around the atoll of Makatea, and is dedicated to the monitoring of cetaceans; It is organized in conjunction with research programs conducted by regional, national and international observatories and laboratories.

The study area is very frequented by humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, Which will be the subject of specific follow-up.

The ecovolunteers join a crew consisting of a skipper and a marine biologist, to take part in observations and collect information. The mission is organized by a Polynesian association which invests since 2009 for the protection of marine mammals in Polynesia.

In addition to the scientific interest and conservation of these expeditions, the information gathered will support the development of rational management measures for the protection of marine mammals in Polynesia: the practice of limiting the targeted tourism cetacean (whale watching). Currently, the lack of knowledge on the populations of resident marine mammals and the significant increase and uncontrolled commercial human activities could lead, if no action is taken quickly to the local extinction of some animal groups .

Location / Habitat

The Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, in 78 atolls scattered over a maritime area of ​​800 000 square kilometers.


Rangiroa (3000 inhabitants) is the capital of the Tuamotu West. Second atoll in the world by its size, its 170 kilometers of coastline, reefs, coral rubble and slabs, pink or flour sand islands make it a world unto itself. His two great assists, and Avatoru Tiputa the north are the crossing and encounters with impressive wildlife.


The Polynesian maka "rock" and tea "white", this island off-the-time is located 75 kilometers south of Tikehau Atoll closest to 82 kilometers southwest of Rangiroa 220 kilometers northeast of Tahiti. Its area is 24 square kilometers, mainly consisting of a wooded tray on limestone cliffs in 60-80 meters above the level of the sea.

General environment

Polynesia has a very mild tropical climate: lulled by the trade winds, annual temperatures vary little. It never gets too hot nor too cold and the seasons are so contrasting that even forgets what is the current month. Yet there are two main seasons in the year with the equivalent of the fall and spring between the two seasons.

The rainy season ; summer, extends from November to April: the climate is humid and warm (29 ° to 35 ° C) the conditions can be very unstable. The dry season extends from May to September, cooler (26 ° to 29 ° C) windy and stable. Interseason, "Autumn" April - May and "Spring" in September - October, are the best months to navigate.

In July and August, the Maraamu, southeast wind at 20 35 nodes can blow and cause a sea of ​​fairly strong wind and difficult especially in the passages to the West.

For more information on local weather conditions


More than 7 species of cetaceans have been reported in the study area. Campaign efforts will focus on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) And on the following populations of dolphins: Dolphins Steno (Steno bredanensis), Tropical Pilot whales (short-finned pilot whale) And dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

Other species that may be cataloged observations (dolphins risso large and small whales, beaked whales, globicéphalinés, whales, etc ...)

Involvement ecovolunteer

Volunteers are placed under the responsibility of a leader board and a chief scientific project. The observations will be organized by 1 / 2 days, volunteers are dispatched to the observation areas on land or at sea.

The sailboat is based on the outer fall of the island of Makatea, it will serve as a base of fixed observation, being on a zone of passage very frequented by humpback whales.

The encounters with cetaceans will be referenced and give rise to systematic photo-identification. The photos are then compared to existing catalogs. Non-impacting collections of biological data can be made, as well as acoustic and behavioral recordings.

The team spends the least possible time with animals that do not seek contact.


Trainees are not accepted.

Requirements and constraints

To participate in this mission you must:

  • Being enduring and having a good sense of naturalistic observation (identification and identification of animals)
  • Know how to swim, support navigation and promiscuity. Good overall fitness. No heart disease or treatment requiring the proximity of hospitals, doctors or even nurses.
  • Capacity to participate in cleaning and storage collectives, some popular cooking skills.
  • You bring flexible and relatively lightweight luggage to facilitate transfers.
  • Being adaptable, patient, riguoureux. Good humor is also a plus.
  • Have at least 18 years in the year.
  • Have a good team spirit, a sense of initiative and good humor.
  • Optional but appreciated: good knowledge of Excel and statistical tools, skills mapping (GIS), people at home in the animation.

Before you register:

  • It is important to take detailed documentation for download (see right of this text).
  • You will need to return the medical fitness form (attached to the detailed documentation) completed and signed by you and your attending physician.
  • You will need to achieve Cybelle Planète a CV and a motivation letter written in French to the attention of the host project.

Language (s) used (s)

French or English

Conditions for minors

Minors are not accepted


Start> Rangiroa atoll.
Arrival> atoll of Rangiroa or Tikehau (weather permitting)

The program described is purely indicative. It may be changed depending on weather conditions, group coping skills or other contingencies. After refueling, the team will be transferred to the island of Makatea, almost unreachable natural paradise.

1 day. RANGIROA Reception at the airport, information and supplies.

Days 2 - 3. RANGIROA / MAKATEA : Crossing, 2 days sailing transfer. Beware of seasickness.
Wetting the first night Tivaru (west coast of Rangiroa), discovery of the reef environment. Arrive late 2ème day Makatea.

Day 4 - 11 Makatea : Initiation at work, research and whale watching. daily outings in the morning (at sea or on land).

12 13 days to: Crossing Makatea-RANGIROA or Makatea-TIKEHAU, Depending on weather conditions, night at anchor

14 day. RANGIROA or TIKEHAU The West Coast Navigation Rangiroa lagoon or password Tikehau village. Debriefing and end of the expedition.


When transferring Makatea-Rangiroa, you will sleep aboard the sailboat (4 days in total). The living conditions are of type camping.

At Makatea, accommodation is in a small house, or fare, located in the tiny single board and endearing village Vaitepaua. The conditions are dormitory style (single beds), with a kitchen and a shared bathroom with a toilet, shower and access to electricity (220V). The nets are not provided.

Meals will be made to the pension. Food resources on Makatea are very limited, almost all supplies will be sent along with the team from Rangiroa. Meals should be conceived based on fish, chicken and rice (raw fish Tahitian, sashimi, carpaccio, grilled vanilla sauce; an electronic collection of simple recipes, varied and easy to implement is to provide participants the. vegetables, salad and therefore, are rare in Makatea and atolls in general.


The project hosts may 3 ecovolunteers both.


2017 mission costs

Individuals and Eco-solidarity holidays * : Donation amount "mission"

  • 14 days of participation: 3245 € (excluding tax deduction.)

* Eco-solidary leave allows employees to leave during their holidays with the financial support of their employer. know more

Students and job seekers * : Donation amount "mission"

  • 14 days of participation: 2550 € (excluding tax deduction.)

* The reduction of travel expenses will be applied only if the receipt of proof.

tax deduction For individuals, participation entitles you to a tax deduction of 66%. Thus for a donation of € 3245 this project will actually cost you only € 1103.

For businesses, employees participation entitles you to a tax deduction of 60%. Thus for a donation of € 3245 this project will actually cost you only € 1298.

Mission costs include:

  • coaching and skipper
  • logistic
  • the operating costs of the accommodation
  • accommodation and food
  • rangiroa transfer from the airport to the boat
Mission costs do not include:
  • the trip to Rangiroa airport,
  • expenses incurred outside Mission (drinks, restaurant, ....)
  • membership in the Association of € 50 (required).
  • travel insurance (optional).

2017 dates

  • 21 3 September 2017 August
  • 11 24 in September 2017
  • 2 15 in October 2017

2018 dates

  • 20 2 September 2018 August
  • 10 23 in September 2018
  • 1 14 in October 2018

Travel Information

You go your own way to Rangiroa where a project member will pick you up at the airport (transfer included in your mission expenses).

Travel arrangements

You must organize your own trip to the project: transport, visa, vaccinations if necessary, ....

You will find on our website information concerning visas.

Cybelle Planet can arrange for you to book your airline ticketsThis service is optional.

Conditions of participation

The general conditions of participation in eco-volunteering mission from Cybelle Planet are available online.

Commitment ecovolunteer

Before committing yourself as a Volunteer, you must have read and accepted the charter of ecovolunteers.


In addition to the insurance included in your membership, you must take out cancellation insurance, loss or damage to luggage, and flight delay. Cybelle Planète will offer you insurance during your pre-registration or you can subscribe one by yourself. A certificate of insurance will be required before departure. To learn more about insurance

ethical commitments Cybelle Planète

The Cybelle Planet associationcommitted to the ecovolunteering charter. We have always chosen sharing, equity and solidarity for all our actions.

Tax deduction

Participation in our eco-volunteering mission is reserved for our "support" members.

Ecovolunteers pay Cybelle Planète a Biodiversity Donation in addition to their commitment in the field.

Only the Biodiversity Gift and membership entitles you to a tax deduction (For companies or persons subject to corporation tax or income tax in France).

Medical fitness form

Your registration can not be validated unless we have received your medical fitness form completed and signed by you and your attending physician.

In order to avoid possible difficulties, we ask you to describe to us, as honestly as possible, your physical and emotional state.
Regardless of the medical situation, all projects are designed to accept as many participants as possible. For this reason, they remain attentive and are very understanding of the various health problems a candidate may have. All solutions are considered to enable the candidate to participate in the project, regardless of his or her state of health, and to the extent possible.
The consequences of misleading and / or omitted medical declarations can be very restrictive for the entire team involved in the mission, and in some cases dangerous (missions on the high seas, in very isolated sites, etc.). So, Any false declaration, omission or false information may be sanctioned by the immediate and definitive exclusion of the participant At its own expense and upon the exclusive and unilateral decision of the project.

Download the form for a francophone mission

Download the form for an English speaking mission


An ECOVOLONTAIRE T-shirt is offered for any registration to an ecovolunteer mission.

Note that no resumption or exchange is possible, we invite you to consult the description and the size guide .

Testimonials for this mission ecovolunteers