Day 13: Lake Ngardok (Crocodile?)


Unfortunately, there’s still rain and high winds, so no snorkeling today! However, we visited Lake Ngardok, the largest freshwater lake in Micronesia (but don’t get too excited, its surface area is only 0.04 square miles!). “Ngardok” means “living spring” in Palauan, a tribute to its valuable flora and fauna. The lake lies within a protected area that accounts for 18% of the state of Melekeok (there are 10 states on the island of Babeldoab). It’s an important area to protect because of the wide variety of ecosystems– forests, wetlands, streams– that provide habitat for native and endemic species.

When we arrived, the Ngardok Reserve manager gave us some information on their reforestation methods to restore nutrients to degraded soil areas. To replant the areas, seeds are harvested from the reserve itself and propagated in their on-site nursery. To aid their growth, the staff are experimenting with different organic fertilizers: limestone, coconut husks, and soil from taro patches.

Lake Ngardok
The Reserve workers collect saplings from the reserve forests and raise them in this nursery. Once the plants reach a healthy size, they are then planted in reforestation efforts.
An example of using coconut husk’s as long lasting plant fertilizer. The coconuts take a while to completely break down, which means they provide nutrients to the plant for a while.
The class as we began our journey along the trail through some of the reserve.
No students were harmed in the duration of this hike.
Above: Micronesian Imperial Pigeon. The Lake Ngardok Nature Reserve rescued this bird and is currently rehabilitating it. Once healthy, they plan on releasing the pigeon back into the nearby forest.
One of the many orchid species in the reserve. Unlike many orchids, the flowers on this species are green. Scientific name: Speuderia micronesiaca.
Another one of the several orchids found in the reserve. Scientific name: Dipodium freycinetioides.
This species of fern acts as an epiphyte, meaning it grows on other trees. It is locally known as “Crocodile Nails” due to its shape. It is one of the oldest fern species in Palau.
The Ngardok manager discussing how the ferns can smother newly planted saplings
Bryan informing us about the non-native acacia trees first introduced to help return nitrogen to the poor soil. Introducing non-native plants inhibits the progress of reforesting an area with native species, as well as possibly causing it to become invasive. Now managers are working with native species to support forest recovery.
Not a high quality photo, but it’s picture evidence of what is probably, most likely, and quite possibly an endangered saltwater crocodile!
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