Over the past few weeks 11-year-old Miel Moutamid Anthonisen has been on board Oceans of Hope with her father and Founder of the Sailing Sclerosis foundation, Mikkel Anthonisen. Together they have explored the French Polynesia with a crew of courageous people living with MS. Here Miel shares her thoughts on the life on a boat, the people she has met and being in a place more beautiful than she thought existed in real life.
Being in French Polynesia has been a lot of fun and I have experienced so many things like snorkelling with beautiful fish. I was a little afraid of the sharks sometimes when they got too close, but they didn't do anything and my father protected me. My father and I also snorkelled to a little island and on the way we saw many sea cucumbers. When we first arrived to the atoll (Fakarava) I was overly excited. I didn't think that anything this beautiful existed in real life, only in the movies. We found a little restaurant by the sea and had to reserve a table for lunch the following day, but when we arrived the next day they had run out of food. I have never been so far away from Denmark before!
There was a point when we decided to go to another place with a town, but as soon as we got there we all started missing the other place with all of the small palm islands and the beautiful fish. I have sometimes longed for an ice cream, but you can’t get them anywhere in Fakarava, but my father promised me I would get a big one in Tahiti!
It’s fascinating to be on the boat and also to be with the people with MS, some of them have difficulty walking but they are doing so well anyway. Sometimes I think it is a little hard to sail for many days when the weather is rough and I have been a little seasick at times. I think that Sandy is very sweet to talk to and I feel that she likes to help me. It has been very nice to talk to Frederik. He tells me a lot about himself and his family and I get to tell him things about my life too. In the beginning Egon didn’t speak much to me, but now we are talking and he is a very nice man. He has two daughters himself. I know Bertram from before and he is very good at playing with me, he is young and still knows how to play. Kristian is also very sweet and also young. Both Kristian and Bertram tease me a little, but in a good way. Robert is great fun. We have been “Bardut jumping” from the boat, which is about making the silliest jumps. Bernd doesn’t talk much either. But he is always smiling.
The richest aquarium on earth
More than 1,000 species of fish inhabit the crystal-clear waters of Tahiti. The variety of colour, size and shape is exceptional and the canyons, caverns and coral beds provide a marine life sanctuary and allows for an incredible biodiversity. In fact, scientists consider the Polynesian seazone to be the richest aquarium on earth. In 2000, the entire region was classified as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Globalisation, climate change and the consequences for the Pacific Islands
The territory of French Polynesia is roughly the same size as Europe and is ecologically rich and culturally unique. However, the rapid changes associated with globalisation and climate change will have major consequences for the Pacific Islands. The atolls of French Polynesia are in an especially dangerous position, because their altitude is no more than a few metres above sea level. The coastal zones are also threatened by the rising sea levels and their submersion could result in serious economic and social consequences for the higher islands.