Oh, Wow - Palau!

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Picture from Univeristy of Redlands' OchTamale Magazine

Palau is an independent republic island nation with a population of about 20,500. The islands of Palau are made from limestone corals that were lifted out of the Philippine Sea and have been etched around the edges by the ocean. Of some 300 islands, only nine are inhabited. A beautiful gem, Palau has a delicate ecosystem that must be carefully studied and protected as the people develop the land. The Palau national government has ratified both a population policy and a sustainable development policy.

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Enter Monty Hempel, Ph.D. - Hedco Professor of Environmental Studies and
Director, Center for Environmental Studies, University of Redlands (Pandabonium's alma mater) in southern California. Professor Hempel has been an advisor to the government of Palau for some years now. Every year, he takes a group of ten students with him to study the issues faced by Palau as it tries to insure a sustainable future. He has been kind enough to send me the pictures that follow of this year's expedition so that I can share them with you.

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The students learned firsthand about coral reef ecology, snorkeling or diving most of the day, and also kayaked through the Rock Islands.

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Ngardmau Waterfalls in the rainforest.

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One night he took them to a marine lake and told them to jump in. The water was full of bioluminescent organisms which light up when disturbed, giving off a bright glow. I remember experiencing that in the Gulf of California with bioluminescent plankton. It seemed magical. Another marine lake they dove into was full of millions of jellyfish, but not to worry: they have evolved to become stingless. Unlike the tiny one that gave Pandabonium a mild sting on his toe at Kashimanada Beach this week.

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One trip was to a jungle covered island, where the U.S. has built a road to allow development, to study what impacts this may have on the coral reefs. From what I have seen on Maui, if they build storm drains by the Army Corps of Engineers' book, it won't be good, but there are other ways of doing things.

Through these experiences, the course tries to impart to students the understanding that everything is connected. They learn about the effects of development, climate changes, pollution, and over-fishing on Palau's resources.

It all looks like great fun, and I am sure everyone enjoyed themselves. But it was also valuable first hand experience which can be applied to the serious work of preserving Palau for the future generations who will live there as well as the visitors who come to see its beauty. Thank you, Professor Hempel.

Want to see more of Palau? Check out the Palau Visitors Authority website.


Robin said...

wow.. reading your blog can never fail to amaze me.

All these will add to my dream destination for a holiday.

I know, a bit far, but when there is a dream, there is hope.

Pandabonium said...

Robin, Palau is an out of the way place. Hopefully, that will help to preserve it.
I hope you can see it some time. I'd love to go kayak and snorkel there.

Michael said...

Looks like a great place to visit. And a little factoid ... Palau is one of the only places that recognizes Taiwan as a country.

Lrong said...

Oh WOW indeed... Palau, I want you!

Pandabonium said...

Michael - that is interesting. I wonder if Palau receives aid from Taiwan.

Lrong - they say the SCUBA diving there is awesome.

FH2O said...

Looks like an awesome place to visit and kayak of course! Wow! :)

Pandabonium said...

Yes FH2O - as we say in Hawaii, "looks like good fun, eh?" One paddle, two paddle....

YD said...

Here we go again with panda to pacific ocean exploration! Yipppee!

Some news...

PALAU: Taiwan To Assist In Future Projects
By Bernadette H. Carreon Horizon News Staff
KOROR (Palau Horizon, Marianas Variety, 9/11/2006)

Although there was no financial package promised during the recently concluded Taiwan-Pacific allies summit, President Tommy Remengesau said Taiwan has vowed to assist them in several planned projects in the island-nation.

In an interview , Remengesau said during his meeting with Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, he had a chance to bring up some topics that could be discussed in the future. He said Palau will be seeking assistance from Taiwan to get a loan or grant to build a new power plant. The project could cost $40 to $45 million.

The first Taiwan Pacific Allies Summit concluded on Monday last week but Taiwan is not giving out any financial package.

Remengesau said Taiwan is not interested in dollar diplomacy (ahem) and is not competing with other nations but the focus will be on expanding bilateral relationships. He said the summit was a success because the communiqué also stressed that an annual meeting will be held to follow up on the issues.

More about Palau-Taiwan News at Olekoi Palau

Happysurfer said...

I remember watching a documentary showing how sea-horses were being harvested for Chinese medicinal purposes.

A great holiday destination. Thanks for sharing the information and lovely pictures.

The Moody Minstrel said...

PandaB, the more I read your blog, the bigger my travel wish list grows! I can't keep up with this!!!!

bonnie said...

Looks like not just good fun -

looks like PLENNY good fun!

Martin J Frid said...

Yes, everything is connected. The biggest lesson of all, as it permeates every tiny detail of creation.

Great photos too, want to jump right in!

Pandabonium said...

YD- thanks for that information and the link!

Happysurfer - sea horses? egad. So many creatures brought to brink of extinction for dubious benefits to anyone except those who make money from it. Sad. It is a beautiful place though isn't it.

MM - I can't keep up either. Too many destination, too thin a wallet.

Hey Bonnie. Thanks - that's it - "plenny good fun!" Wouldn't kayaking there be awesome?

Martin - thanks. As one who has lived in a Zen monestary, I guess interconnectedness is one lesson you've know well.

Reena said...

I cannot imagine there are such beautiful places on earth... wow! And I love the way you have pointed out the place on a map... gives an idea as to how remote places can get.

Pandabonium said...

Reena, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Palau really is an isolated gem. I am happy to know such places still exist on our planet.