The reef surrounding Tetiaroa and the large and spectacular coral beds in the inner and outer lagoons provide a perfect place for marine life to flourish.  At least 167 fish species have been observed around the atoll, from colorful parrotfish and spotted eagle rays to blacktip sharks and bonefish.  Whales often pause at Tetiaroa  during their annual migrations, and dolphins frequently play off the reef. During the nesting season, large sea turtles come to lay their eggs on the coral sands beneath the trees.

Beautiful tropical birds are found throughout Tetiaroa, but one of the motus, Tahuna Iti or “Bird Island”, is a favorite. Thousands of birds roost here every evening. There are some land birds, but most are seabirds, including the noddy and the majestic great frigate. Every evening the “permanent residents” are joined by an exodus of birds from Tahiti, which make the short flight across the sea to roost in the safety of the dense vegetation, free from predators.

On the twelve motus there are 38 indigenous plants, six of them very rare. These plants range from very small flowers to the magnificent Puatea, pisonia grandis, rising up to 65 feet in height. It is no surprise that international plant hunters and botanists have organized at least nine expeditions to Tetiaroa since 1921.