Day 14: The end of one journey means the beginning of another one.

Sunset from the Ebiil Society on the first night in Ollei.

Today is the last day on the beautiful islands of Palau for most of the 2022 Ridge to Reef crew. The experiences we have had filled us with inspiration, motivation, and ideas for the future to bring back to our communities. Each of us has grown in many ways personally and academically over the past two weeks, and we are all excited to move forward with new perspectives in our careers, education, and life experiences.

We can never truly express our gratitude to everyone who helped make this the incredible trip it was, but we would like to thank Ann Singeo and the Ebiil Society for their hospitality while we were in Ollei; their kindness, delicious cooking, and knowledge have left a strong impression on us, and we appreciate all the experiences and guests they facilitated. We would also like to thank mechas Rosa at the taro patch, Tino for fisheries management, the boat captains who took us out fishing and to the Ebiil Channel for snorkeling, and Jack Lin at the Palau National Aquaculture Center for sharing their time, culture, and experience with us. We have learned so much more than we could have anticipated, and we look forward to applying our newfound knowledge in our respective fields.

Jack Lin holding rescued Green Sea and Hawksbill Sea turtles.

Our second week spent in Koror was equally enriching, and we would like to thank everyone at Palau Community College and the Cooperative Research Extension – where we learned about taro culturing and agroforestry, Ron Leidich and everyone at Rock Island Kayak Expeditions for two full days exploring the beautiful lakes and reefs of the Rock Islands while learning about eco-tourism in Palau, and Amy Lee at Reef Environmental Education Foundation for talking to us about citizen science and what career and education options are available at non-profits.

Ron Leidich talking to the class about the formation of the limestone Rock Islands and lakes.

Last but not least, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the citizens of Palau for making us feel welcome while visiting their beautiful home, and to Bryan Endress, Scott Heppell, and Demian Hommel for facilitating this experience. Their guidance and experience were invaluable, and we cannot thank them enough for putting up with us for two weeks while guiding us through important conversations and providing a safe space for exploration and questioning.

“Be kind and do good work.” – Scott Heppell

Sunset from the KB bridge on the last night in Koror.

Day 7: Exploring Airai Caves

We started the morning driving from Ebiil to Koror and then headed to the beautiful caves on Airai. After a 30-minute boat ride, we explored a couple of caves with Ann and enjoyed some time in the water. We then headed to the next island, explored the underwater cave, ate a delicious lunch, and spent several hours snorkeling around the outside of the cave. Throughout the day, we saw many fish, clams, jellyfish, and a barracuda. 🐠