We arrived at dawn on 7 October 2014, after a night of steaming from the island of Rapa, French Polynesia, to be greeted by the howling wind and rollers pounding the rocks. My colleague Steve Keable caught the action in this video.

The sea conditions made Matt Jolly, the Braveheart’s captain, a tad nervous. He was particularly concerned about the safety of the divers in the strong surge and the possibility of currents. We took the time, however, to travel to this wild place as part of our Southern French Polynesia expedition and wanted to make the most of it. Our aim was to sample specimens for the museum’s collection, and after a serious group discussion some of us decided to attempt a dive.

Considering the less than ideal conditions and the time constraints to get to other locations it was only possible to put one boat-load of divers in the water. We knew the bottom would be pretty scoured by the constant, heavy wave action, so we decided that fish collecting at this site would be more productive than collecting marine invertebrates. Obviously given the conditions, there was no pressure on anyone to dive!

Six intrepid ‘fishos’ took the plunge. As you can see from the images and video, below, it was a spectacular place. As for the fish catch … there were some surprises, but more on that later.

Marotiri Rocks which are volcanic in origin are also called Morotiri Rocks, Mototiri Rocks and Bass Rocks (Îlots de Bass in French). They are located 75 kilometres south-east of Rapa Island and are part of the Austral Island Group in French Polynesia. Read more on Wikipedia.