Our first day in Ollei was focused on the island Ngerkeklau, a conservation hotspot that the Ebiil Society has been putting a lot of work into. Our main focus was helping them monitor the nests of the Megapode or “Bekai” and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Their conservation efforts are often impeded by over exploitation driven by the need to support livelihoods. Ann Singeo, the co-founder of the Ebiil Society, led us through the monitoring and discussed with us the difficulties of working in conservation and communicating with the community.
Below we have a photo diary of our adventure along with some more information on the conservation efforts that we helped with today.
Photo Diary for September 3rd, 2018
Boat ride with the Ebiil Society to Ngerkeklau.
Our ride to the island.
View on the island.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle tracks up the beach.
This is a poached Hawksbill nest, unfortunately we found many.
Sea Snake found on the island, the only venomous snake found in Palau.
Sea cucumbers are a women’s fishery. Pictured here is a woman fisher who is preparing some sea cucumbers to take to the market. A major conservation issue right now is sustainable harvest for the different species of sea cucumbers. When the larger markets opened in the city of Koror the women began harvesting more than they actually need to eat in order to sell to make a livelihood. Due to this, the ranges and densities of the sea cucumbers are a fraction of what they once were.
The Ebiil Society has seen what unsustainable harvesting of sea cucumbers has done not only to the populations but also to the sea grass beds and ultimately the entire ecosystem. In order to mitigate the effects caused by the over exploitation, the Ebiil Society has started translocating sea cucumbers from Ngerkeklau to the sea grass bed of Ollei in an attempt to bring them back. Today we got to help bring approximately 70 Curryfish sea cucumbers (“Ngimes” in Palauan) to Ollei.
While on Ngerkeklau we also collected and sorted marine debris that typically washes up on this remote island from the current. Unfortunately, what is pictured is only a fraction of what was present and what continues to wash up every day. It really made us think about how harmful single-use plastics and styrofoams are, seeing as they comprised the majority of what was there.
After a humbling experience picking up and sorting through the ocean debris, learning a lot from Ann’s firsthand experience fighting for conservation, and doing monitoring for endangered species, we ended our day with a classic lunch. American hot dogs with a Palauan twist: young coconut leaf plates, papaya slaw, and breadfruit chips.
Stay tuned for the next blog post!
~Claire Watkins and Alayna Lawson