We started the day with an early morning boat ride, going 2.5 hours to the north. During the ride, we saw spinner dolphins jumping out of the waves to greet us.
When we reached the island the water was a gradient of colors ranging from turquoise blue to deep ocean blue.
There was work lined up for the day, but the Kayangel State Conservation Staff was on lunch break, so we sat in the summer house and ate our lunch. Each of us got a single piece of the best mango on the planet.
Afterwards, we took the opportunity to explore or talk to conservation experts. It was low tide, and on the far side of the island there was more trash than any of us had seen here. All of this was washed up by the tide, and most was not from Palau.
We also explored a cool island shack that seemed to be the life of the party! Cue the disco ball.
Down in the tide pools, we came across two different species of moray eels. They were hiding under rocks away from the sun waiting for the tide.
We then made our way to the clearing to help the conservation staff continue their work. Our job was to remove the invasive green vines that were growing over the trees. Removing the vines prepares the land for reforestation, which will improve the habitat of the Megapode (a native ground bird).
We boarded the boat to start back towards Babeldaob, and to listen to Chris Kitalong talk about the destructive coconut rhinoceros beetle. The beetles have always been in Palau, but go through cycles of destruction. They eat the heart of the palm , which kills the tree, resulting the loss of palm fronds and fruits. It is clear when the beetles have been to a place because the palms are left looking like giant sticks. Coconut trees are important to island life because coconuts provide a hydration source where freshwater is rare or absent.
As we were making our way to the dock, the sun began to set, which made a calming glow on the tranquil waters and the rock islands.
It was a quick turnaround from returning to the dorms to leaving for the night market. The Koror night market occurs biweekly, and features food, art/craft vendors, and dancers. We all got to try fried spiral potatoes and bought some fresh dragon fruit.
Written by Rachel, Abby, and Haley.