Palau Day 4: Snorkeling in the Mangrove

On our second day in Ollei, our class snorkeled through nearby mangroves. A mangrove is a tree or group of trees and shrubs that grow in saltwater. They provide many ecosystem services to coastal communities such as: protection from storms, regulation of water quality, provision of breeding and rearing habitats for many species, and supply wood and other forest products to local populations. Mangroves are also a source of energy for nearby ecosystems such as seagrass beds and coral reefs. They also act as a major carbon sink.

Below is a photo-diary of todays events!

The mangrove forest we went to was a short hike from our campsite along the North shore of Babeldaop
The path we took to our destination during low tide. In a few hours it would all be underwater.
During low tide it is common to see small organisms traveling across the sand. Above pictured is a mudskipper.
At various spots along the hike to our snorkel spot, Bryan, Scott, and Ann stopped to give us more information regarding mangrove land use and ecosystem services.
This is the sprout of a mangrove tree that drops when its ready to be planted. The top brown piece helps it float farther away and eventually pops off, allowing the sprout to sink and form a root.
Pictured is the roots of a Bngaol Mangrove, most common in the area near our campsite. These crop roots shoot our horizontally and spread far and wide from the base of the tree.
Some mangrove species have an interesting adaptation that locals call a “sacrificial leaf”. Living in salt water can be tricky for plants since they require fresh water. Mangroves can send the majority of the salt they take into a few select leaves. These leaves turn yellow and eventually fall off the tree and back into the ocean.
Pictured above are students snorkeling in the seagrass.
Above is a crocodile fish
Portuguese Man o’ War seen while snorkeling. It was scooped up in a mask to prevent any stinging.
On the way back to the village after snorkeling, we found some discarded net. We brought it back with us so that it was not littering the mangrove anymore.
After we returned home from snorkeling we had lunch. After lunch, most of us hopped on our kayak’s and a raft to return to a mangrove and learn more about women’s fisheries, specifically clamming.
After clams have been successfully harvested, they are brought back home to be cleaned, shelled, and prepared to eat.
Some of the days events were cut short due to inclement weather. Sudden winds and heavy rains are common in tropical environments and it served as a learning tool for how mangroves can provide shelter during storms.


Stay tuned for the next blog post!

– Nathan Hakzen and Jesy Rodriguez

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