Day 6: A Day on Ngarkeklau Island

Our day started off early in the morning at 5:30 am when we paddled out to watch the sunrise as we floated to Ngarkeklau island in hopes of seeing some dugongs. Unfortunately we didn’t spot any, but we still got to experience the peacefulness of the early morning out on the ocean. The island of Ngarkeklau is an isolated island managed by the Ebiil society in an effort to conserve the mangroves and other unique species, including sea turtles.  

Image: Morning paddleboard to Ngarkeklau

Upon arrival at Ngarkeklau island we explored the tree named Demdemkur. A Palaun legend says that the God’s were having a throwing contest to see who can throw their betelnut the furthest. A trickster god put a bird in his mouth instead of the betelnut, and threw the bird which ended up landing the furthest away. This spot is where the tree lies. After looking at Demdemkur, we wandered the island where we got to explore the mangroves and even see some previous sea turtle nests. We then went and collected clams on the shore with Cindy, which would be used to make, demok (clam chowder). While searching for clams we found other interesting shells and even some broken pottery from when Palauans used to make pottery from the clay on the island. While exploring, we noticed a lot of trash on the island that drifts in from Asia; we even found a glass fishing float from the Japanese when they colonized the area.

Image: Demdemkur tree
Image: Searching for clams with Cindy
Image: Anna holding her Japanese fishing float

After a few hours on the island we got on the boats to go snorkel the Ebiil channel where we saw some awesome fish and coral structures. Bryan and Scott told us how last year they noticed a lot of dead coral and this year they noticed there was some growth, meaning the coral in the Ebiil channel is recovering. We got to see giant clams, tons of fish, and even a baby shark! Seeing the giant clams in their natural habitat was especially cool after visiting the aquaculture center and planting some ourselves. The Ebiil channel is also a marine protected area (MPA) which means there are certain laws and regulations in place to protect the marine life within that area. It was very special to be able to snorkel in an area that was protected, and be able to see the benefits of these MPA’s.

Image: KB diving with a starfish
Image: Baby shark (doo-doo doo-doo)
Image: Alex with a giant clam
Image: Drone footage of all of us snorkeling at Ebiil channel

After an amazing snorkel, we headed back to the island where we got to enjoy a delicious lunch served on coconut leaves.

Image: Lunch; fried fish with veggie slaw, taro, and rice

After eating, we hopped back on the boats and headed out to the open ocean, where we got to fish using the hand lines that we made yesterday. We made some awesome catches, including Red Snappers and a Black Saddled Coral Grouper, and even got an unexpected visit from a sea krate. Some of our catches had to be released back into the water because they were either a protected species or they were juvenile, meaning they haven’t been able to reproduce yet.

Image: Rachel with the biggest catch of the day: a Red Snapper
Image: Sea Krate on our boat

After some fishing we headed back to camp Ebiil where we learned about the anatomy of a fish and the type of data that fisheries collect for sustainable fishing. Some of these include the size, gender, and age. We then had a demonstration by KB and Midner on how to properly scale and gut a fish, and were able to try ourselves for those of us who wanted to. This would be our dinner for the night.

Image: Fish scale and gut demonstration

We ended the day by sitting at the dock and enjoying the beautiful sunset. After dinner with our freshly caught fish, we did a group reflection of the day, and got to enjoy smores by the fire.

Image: Sunset at Ebiil

Written by Veronica and Rebecca

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