I arrived in Palau in 1994 with all of my worldly possessions stuffed into two duffel baggage. One carried my rafting package from adventures on rivers throughout the US. The opposite was SCUBA gear from my profession of instructing diving and main excursions. With a level in zoology from Oregon State and life mission to assist protect all of the Earth’s creatures, I at all times added as a lot pure historical past instructing to my journeys as rafting and diving friends may endure—and on my Palau Snorkeling and Sea Kayaking journeys with Wilderness Journey, I do the identical!
Paddling with pilot whales
In my new island house, I watched in horror as numerous long-line fishing boats cruised the harbor with illegally caught shark fins openly frolicked to dry on their bow rails. The sight was greater than I may bear. After exhausting all political and social makes an attempt at eliminating the follow of shark finning, I lastly determined to save lots of the sharks myself! Day-after-day after work, I led groups of boat captains and fellow dive guides up the edges of shark fishing vessels and eliminated the fins, destroying the catch in waters too deep to get better. This caught the eye of the Discovery Channel, which subsequently aired a particular titled “Predators in Peril.” This worldwide consideration inspired Palau’s management to take steps to curb shark fishing.
Sperm whale trio
Palauans have, for 4,000 years, made their dwelling from the ocean. The remoted nature of the archipelago has positioned the inhabitants ready the place their meals safety relies upon upon sustainable use. If a selected meals useful resource turns into scarce (for instance bumphead parrotfish), the chiefs declare a “buul,” or closure, till the species recovers. This inherent sense of stewardship survived European colonization, Japanese Imperialism, in addition to the traumas of WWII. President Tommy Remengesau, or “T.R.” as he’s identified regionally, has reinvigorated this sense of stewardship by main a “buul” marketing campaign to guard our open-ocean assets, reminding his neighborhood of their accountability to guard the ocean. Economies rise and fall, however the ocean will at all times present, if cared for and guarded. This message resonated all through the neighborhood and in October, 2015, Palau was declared an official marine sanctuary—one of many largest marine protected areas on our planet.
My small half on this saga has been to light up the miraculous range of open-ocean sharks, fish, and cetaceans who dwell in Palau’s waters. On the first anniversary celebration of the marine sanctuary, I gave a chat on the 16 species of marine mammals my group has tracked in Palau. I informed the group in regards to the mighty sperm whale, the world’s largest toothed whale—at the very least 18 distinct pods of over 200 people make their means by Palau’s seas. A more moderen discover of ours is a pod of Risso’s dolphins who’ve taken to visiting Palau’s Rock Islands seasonally over the past three years. After which there may be the resident pod of melon-headed whales, referred to as shy animals however who now actively interact with me and any customer I carry by. The proud Paulauan neighborhood is on observe to guard their astounding pure treasures, with everybody from the native judges to highschool lecturers wanting to hitch the seek for Palau’s most valuable wonders. I salute them!
Ron Leidich and a sperm whale. Picture by Thomas Beachtold
-Textual content and pictures by WT Journey Chief Ron Leidich, Palau Sea Kayaking & Snorkeling