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From the Field
Expedition: Dangerous Archipelago
Kayaking French Polynesia's Tuamotu Islands

Explorer Jon Bowermaster sends dispatches from the deep South (Pacific).

Dispatch 7: Big Day on the Seas

October 24, 2002

[Note: Nationalgeographic.com does not research or copyedit field dispatches.]

in Pukapuka we hooked up with a local fisherman named Rafael who said he knew where we could find dolphins. We went out onto the ocean and went halfway round the atoll, and, sure enough, all of a sudden there were a half-dozen, ten dolphins all around the boat.

We slowed down and Alex, Pete, and I jumped into the water and within minutes the dolphins—so curious about us—were up nudging us. We were petting them. Alex had the great experience of tickling one of these dolphins and then just kind of looking him straight in the eyes. This is not SeaWorld. This is the middle of the South Pacific. So these are wild animals with absolutely no fear of us—just incredible curiosity.

It got even better. As these dolphins swam around us, we looked below and there is a 30- to 35-foot [9- to 11-meter] whale swimming underneath us, rolling onto its back. It kind of looks up at us, curious as well. It hung around and swam with us for half an hour—something that Rafael, whos lived on Pukapuka all his life, said hed never seen.

On the way back to shore as the sun went down things got almost better as we were surrounded by a school of a flying fish, which literally come out out of the water alongside the boat as we're racing through the big seas and fly along the side. It was a big day on the seas that day.

—Jon Bowermaster

Next: Dispatch 8: Hitchhiking on the South Pacific >>

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Look for Jon Bowermaster's feature article on kayaking the Dangerous Archipelago in a future issue of Adventure. Subscribe Now and Save 62 percent off the cover price >>

Funding for this expedition was provided by the National Geographic Society Expeditions Council. For more information on the Council, its projects, and grants, e-mail ecouncil@ngs.org.


Map by NG Maps
  The Team
  Photo Gallery
  Dispatch 1
  Dispatch 2
  Dispatch 3
  Dispatch 4
  Dispatch 5
  Dispatch 6
  • Dispatch 7
  Dispatch 8


Audio: Dolphins and Flying Fish (1:20)
"Alex had the great experience of kind of tickling one of these dolphins and then just kind of looking him straight in the eyes. This is not SeaWorld. This is the middle of the South Pacific."
RealPlayer: 28.8 | 56.6

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Related Web Sites

Ask the Expedition Advisor
Jon Bowermaster fielded reader's questions on planning an out-there adventure.

Descending the Dragon
Hear Bowermaster's dispatches from his kayak odyssey down the Vietnam coast.

Dispatches From the Birthplace of the Winds
See photos and hear dispatches from the expedition that inspired Bowermaster's new book, Birthplace of the Winds.

Video: Bowermaster on His Aleutian Odyssey
Find out what it took to take Alaska's Islands of the Four Mountains by kayak.

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