The Cousteau team visited Polynesia several times during the Rediscovery of the World expeditions. Captain Cousteau saw through the idyllic landscapes of the Marquesas Islands to the human and environmental dramas within. Nine-tenth s of the indigenous population has disappeared since the arrival of westerners, and the environment, both on land and in the sea, has been seriously damaged. Goats, dogs, pigs and rats brought by ships have dangerously impoverished the islands’ ecosystems.
The saddest sight was native Marquesans trying to save their culture wren it may already be too late. No one remembered the meaning of the tattoos or the written language used by their ancestors. Nevertheless, some inhabitants still know the sacred dances, and perform them for the Cousteau team.
In Polynesia, nature comes in a myriad of colours. In Tahiti, Maupiti, Bora Bora, the ocean depths near the islands and atolls brim with magical sea life: damselfishes, tropical snappers, spotted rays, sea cucumbers-biodiversity invented by evolution that dazzled the divers and television viewers with its splendour.
At Mururoa, the Cousteau team was authorized to be present for a French nuclear test. A study was carried out to establish the impact of the explosions on the environment. The results showed the presence of nearly normal levels of radioactivity but a huge question mark as to the future. The Diving Saucer had observed an enormous fissure in the atoll itself.