National Geographic Wraps Up Pristine Sea Expedition To Palau

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Coral Reef Center participated in research, documentary film project

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Sept. 23, 2014) – Palau International Coral Reef Center Chief Executive Officer (PICRC CEO), Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Chief Researcher Marine Gouezo, and Research Assistant Dawnette Olsudong participated in the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expedition in Palau from September 2nd to September 22nd. The expedition, led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Enric Sala, explored the underwater world of Palau from the surface to depths greater than 4,000 meters in order to collect data and make a documentary film of Palau’s underwater world.

The National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions focus on special areas around the world that are pristine with little human influence, such as the Line Islands, Cocos Islands in Costa Rica and the Russian Artic. While Palau’s reefs are influenced by human activities and are not considered pristine like the usual places that the Pristine Seas Expeditions focuses on, Dr. Sala and his team decided to come to Palau because of Palau’s conservation initiatives such as the Protected Area Network (PAN) and the proposed National Marine Sanctuary. The Pristine Seas team hopes that being here can help Palau with its conservation initiatives with the data that they collect during the trip and also they will be able to share the story of Palau with other parts of the world. Palau as made great strides in its conservation efforts and Dr. Sala hopes that Palau’s story can inspire other countries in the world to make similar efforts to protect their environment.

The PICRC research team worked with National Geographic Chief Scientist Dr. Alan Friedlander and his team, Dr. Jennifer Caselle, a marine ecologist from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Dr. Enric Ballesteros, researcher from Spain’s Center for Advance Studies, in conducting ecological surveys inside and outside Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around Palau. Data on fish abundance and size, as well as the cover of coral and other species found on the reef were collected at different sites around Palau to assess the effectiveness of some of Palau’s existing MPAs. These surveys complement and provide additional information to the ongoing MPA monitoring by PICRC around Palau.

All videos will be incorporated into a documentary that will be screened in Palau, and broadcasted on TV as a National Geographic Special. The scientific results will be provided soon after the completion of the expedition. PICRC was honored to participate and contribute to the Pristine Seas expedition by being part of the science team. Being asked to be part of the National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition demonstrates PICRC’s expertise and recognition internationally as a coral reef research institution.

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