Fakarava - French Polynesia 2019

Sharks and Groupers Spawning Expedition 

9 June - 19 June 2019

This is an expedition to die for; once a year, Camouflage Groupers come together in a colossal aggregation in the south pass of Fakarava, an atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynseia, to spawn on the day of the full moon. With numbers in some years exceeding 20,000 groupers, biologists believe it to be our ocean biggest known aggregation of large reef fish. In 2014,  Laurent Ballesta and his team recorded over 700 sharks feasting into the spawning sessions.  This phenomenon in the blue pristine waters of the South Pacific is found nowhere else in the world.

To experience this very special event Ocean Geographic has organised a 2019 trip with this unique itinerary for a 10 day live-aboard expedition to explore the Toau, Faaite, Niau and Raraka atolls, of course the focus is on the spawning aggregation in Fakarava.  

Join Michael AW and Paul McKenzie for this unforgettable sojourn aboard the new French Polynesia Master.

$US 6500 per person ( Lower deck, based on twin share). OG Members discount applies

Make your reservation now – 18 spots availble    

It is one of the MOST INCREDIBLE Wildlife events on our planet! 

Then in front of me, a group of six fish shot up from the reef into mid-water. The fish in the middle, a female, released a stream of milky spawn, which the attendant males did their best to fertilise. In a flash, two Grey Reef Sharks powered into the spawn; sharks were everywhere. Usually languid in their movements, they swam with purpose and menace. Grey Reefs were the predominant species but there were also Black Tips, Silvertips and the occasional Lemon shark. They were not just after the spawn but also the fish themselves. Over to my right, a Black Tip Shark, with its distinctive large girth and elongated dorsal fin, surged vertically at another spawning group. It happened so quickly, but I saw the extended mouth and teeth with bits of grouper trailing behind. “ Paul Mckenzie

Our special guest for this expedition is Paul McKenzie.  Among the first to discover this incredible event in 2009, he has been back every year since.  Together with Paul, Michael AW will guide you through this expedition offering you the best photographic advice and diving at the best times for an unforgettable sojourn through the atolls.



1.       The world biggest sharks, grouper and reef fish spawning aggregations

2.       Up to 7 species of sharks

3.       Large Fish & Pelagics:the famous 'walls of sharks' at Fakarava

4.       Large friendly napoleon wrasse and manta rays

5.       Dolphin encounter

6.       Lush coral reefs in pristine water

Expedition Platform

The newest French Polynesia Master is a brand new steel hull luxury live-aboard with lower deck and upper deck cabins, each with en-suite and individual air conditioning units. Communal relaxation areas are split between the middle and upper decks comprising a spacious indoor lounge area, camera set up station and guest storage drawers, with comfortable bench seating and plasma screen. There is an extra shaded outdoor lounging area to the rear of the upper deck with more comfortable seating. Finally, there is a sun deck deck on the upper level with to jacuzzi’s where you can literally soak up the stunning views of the French Polynesian islands.

Diving is at the rear of the upper deck in a dedicated shaded outdoor seating area. Dive equipment is set up and stored on the rear of the main deck.

Expedition Package

Up to 4 dives per day, twin sharing, expedition t-shirt, Nitrox, daily photographic instruction*, good chance to get published in Ocean Geographic and OG Explorers.  Ocean Geographic E-edition membership

*Daily Photo Session

Each evening we offer discussion on choice of lens, options of ambient light and strobe settings , composition and exposure for successful images.


Upper Deck: USD 6880

Lower Deck: USD 6500

Deposit is USD 1500

Note: Departure/Disembarking points have now changed to the following

Departure: ex Rangiroa.  Disembarking: Papeete

We advise participants to arrive one day earlier into Papeete. And book domestic flight to Rangiroa to arrive by 9th June. Airport transfers are included.

Return: instead of flying back from Fakarava, we are now sailing back with vessel to Papeete ( additional  USD 250 )

 Not Included: National Park Fees, dive rental equipment, alcoholic beverages and gratuity. 

Expedition Leaders

altPaul Mckenzie: Paul, based out of Hong Kong, is an award winning wildlife photographer. In 1997 he made his first safari to Kenya and was completely smitten – both with the African savannah and with wildlife photography. From that point on, every vacation was spent pursuing this passion – both on land and underwater. He is completely self-taught and has persevered through much trial and a great deal of error. He travelled at a very young age and the travel bug has remained with him since. He is a veteran of the grouper spawning aggregation in Fakarava, documenting the phenomenon since 2009.


altMichael AW: Michael has been to Fakarava three times and documented the spawning aggregation in 2014. He is a senior Fellow of the  International League of Conservation Photographers and has authored over 35 books of the sea. His accolades include winning more than 65 international awards and being named as one of the world’s most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photography. He is the first Asian to have won four awards at NHM Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition of which he was the winner of the underwater category in 2006 and 2015. In 2013 he was awarded the NOGI for Arts by the American Academy of Underwater Arts and Science. His essays and pictures have been featured in BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Times and Nature Focus to name just a few. Michael AW is the founder of Asian Geographic and Ocean Geographic.


Expedition Platform – the new French Polynesia Master; Limited spots available;

Lower Deck: USD 6500 per person twin sharing. Upper Deck USD 6880 per person twin sharing Deposit USD 1500.

OG Member discount applies to this trip

To express interest or if you need further information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you are ready to book please go to booking link

CLICK HERE to book your spot

NB. Booking is not confirmed until deposit is paid. Payment details for payment of deposit will be provided once booking is completed. Booking username and password is not the same as your OG username and password. If you are new trip client you can leave the existing client login blank and complete the booking . If you are an existing trip client please check with us first and we will let you know your trip client user ID and password which will enable you a much quicker booking process.

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