After following the schooner’s route between Tahiti and the Tuamotu Archipelago to film “Tara Pacific, le mystère des récifs”, director Pierre de Parscau has just completed recording a new documentary about Tara’s scientific adventure in Wallis and Futuna – an opportunity to learn about the first complete inventory of biodiversity conducted by the scientific teams on board and to better understand the functioning of this territory where ancestral traditions are still very much alive.
Retour de plongée et inventaire de la biodiversité © Loïc Menard
“L’archipel des rois” describes the scientific adventure that took place aboard Tara during the 2-week inventory of marine biodiversity and offers a portrait of these isolated islands”, says Pierre de Parscau. “Here, kings and kingdoms are not legendary memories but part of the Futunans’ daily lives. During the filming, we were able to delve into the heart of this unique culture alongside TARA’s crew, attending traditional ceremonies and visiting the graves of Futuna’s first kings, strategically located with a view out to sea”.
The devastated coast of Futuna © Loïc Menard
Confronted with cyclones and the consequences of climate change, islanders hope to learn more about their marine resources thanks to the work of Tara’s scientific team. Far from any scientific monitoring, the depths surrounding Futuna and Alofi Island were a mystery to the expedition researchers. “It was very exciting to share the daily findings of scientists on board. Dives were an opportunity for astonishing discoveries, especially regarding healthy reefs and the species inhabiting them. Whether studying fish, corals or sponges, each scientific team was very enthusiastic about this historic inventory“. Known for capricious weather, December in Futuna lived up to its reputation and filming was a battle with the elements.
Return from the filming in the Wallis lagoon © Loïc Menard
“It’s difficult enough to record video on a boat, but days of torrential rain made our task even more complicated. We had to wait for lulls to work onshore. Then when the sun finally appeared, we had to deal with mosquitoes from Alofi’s primary forest”. On land, the team met with environmental protection officers who are conducting an inventory of forest biodiversity. Like its reefs, Alofi’s forests host an ecosystem relatively spared from human impact, with endemic species still to be discovered. “It was important to link marine and terrestrial issues in this documentary. In Futuna, every inhabitant is a farmer and a fisherman, and these both resources are essential for the very survival of islanders. Yet, people don’t always make the connection between soil pollution, caused mainly by the many pig farms, and run-off into the reef flats. Our colleagues onshore are trying to raise this awareness in Futuna. I hope that, by showing the island’s hidden beauties, this film will contribute to protecting them.”
Pierre de Parscau