Researchers in Moorea are inventorying the island's ecosystem, one organism at a time.

It was not storm or shipwreck or conquest that brought the first Europeans to the South Pacific island of Moorea—it was science. In 1768, Lieutenant James Cook and his ship Endeavor were dispatched to the Society Islands to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. Using these observations, astronomers at the Royal Greenwich Observatory hoped to determine the basic yardstick of the universe: the astronomical unit (AU), the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

Kenneth Brower
California Alumni Magazine