French Polynesia is part of a global biodiversity hotspot, which includes Micronesia, Polynesia and Fiji. Its biodiversity is extremely rich in terms of terrestrial endemism, where the rate is 100% for some biological families such as terrestrial gastropods. These species are the jewels of Polynesian fauna and are of major interest for the general study of natural evolution and speciation (evolutionary process through which new species develop).
Tahiti of French Polynesia is the only island in the South Pacific to possess tropical subalpine forests. These habitats are limited to three summits above 2,000 metres, do not exceed a total area of 125 hectares, and thus have remarkable flora and fauna rich in endemic species.
French Polynesia’s maritime area accounts for 2.5 million km², equal to the size of continental Europe. The waters of French Polynesia have been classified as a “sanctuary for marine mammals”. They host 11 species of dolphin, two species of the Sperm Whale, the Blainville’s Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon densirostris), and the iconic Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). The territory also has several marine nature reserves, including a UNESCO “Man and Biosphere” Reserve. French Polynesia also hosts the most diverse and among the most well-studied coral reef formations in the world. The 12,800 km² of reefs in the territory have 176 species of corals, 1,024 species of fish and 1,160 species of molluscs. Read more