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Tonga & Fiji Flora/Fauna
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|Want to see the plants and animals of Tonga and Fiji?
You can travel to Tonga by flying from New Zealand, Australia, or Fiji to the capital of Nukualofa in the south of the country. Eco‑tours can be arranged there, but the main tourist areas are in the Vava'u Group in the north. One can sail or fly from Nukualofa to the Vava'u Group where the Humpback Whales can be seen.
Travel to Fiji involves a flight to Nadi airport (originally built during WW II) on the western end of the largest Fijian island, Viti Levu. From there one can tour the island by car and/or fly to outlying islands such as Vanua Levu, the Mamanucas or Yasawas. One can also charter sailboats or travel by ferry or tour boat. Flights to Fiji originate in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA.
This section highlights some of the interesting flora and fauna - plants, animals and birds - of the island nations of Tonga and Fiji
Fiji's Red Shining Parrot
Twelve hundred miles west of French Polynesia lies the small island kingdom of Tonga where we spent more than four months. From there we sailed 300 miles west to Fiji with its two large islands of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu and many smaller islands sprinkled around those two. Isolated by many thousands of miles from major continents, these small groups of islands have fewer species overall than we saw in island groups nearer South America. In both Tonga and Fiji, as in French Polynesia, the majority of our naturalist explorations have had to do with marine life, but we've been thrilled to learn about the endemic birds and reptiles of Fiji, and in both countries we have loved seeing the many fruit bats that fly above the treetops each evening, and hang upside-down like oversized gray and tan seed pods from the trees during the days.
This section is divided into three pages: one for a variety of animals, one just for birds, and one for plants of Tonga and Fiji. (See French Polynesia Flora and Fauna for more on that region.) In addition, see the Marine Mammals page for photos and information on humpback whales, dolphins and other marine mammals we have encountered across the Pacific.
Although Tonga and Fiji lack the diversity of terrestrial plants and animals found on large continents, there are many endemic species that have evolved on these islands. Most indigenous species are related to those of Malaysia and Indonesia, with a few exceptions. The underwater diversity is great, and we address that in the underwater pages.
Binoculars and camera in hand, we spend many hours exploring our environment. On board, we use several valuable reference books to terrestrial flora and fauna:
A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific by Pratt, Burner, and Berrett, 520 pages.
Seabirds: An Identification Guide by Peter Harrison is a superb guide to seabirds of the world that should be in every serious bird-watchers library.
A Naturalist's Guide to the Tropics by Marco Lambertini, 338 pages.
Collins Guide to Tropical Plants by Lotschert and Beese - A Descriptive Guide to 323 Ornamental and Economic Plants.
And, less technical, but easy reading and full of anecdotes are the Lonely Planet Guide to Tonga and the Lonely Planet Guide to Fiji which help put each country into perspective geologically, environmentally, and culturally.
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