Saturday, August 16, 2014

Helen Reef

Helen Island (M. Kaplan)
After departing Koror on Wednesday and a 30 hour steam south we arrived at Helen Reef, close to the equator and very remote. Other than three rangers that inhabit Helen Island, a small sandy island at the top of the reef, there are no other people for miles. The rangers are tasked with monitoring reef conditions and guarding against illegal fishing activity.

The rangers were also extremely helpful, taking us in their boats to a range of sites around the reef where we collected coral cores, tissue, and water samples.

After a short day-and-a-half stay we had to depart again, this time heading to the very north of Palau's archipelago. We would have been happy to stay for a few more days to further explore the beautiful reefs. One of the rangers we spoke to told us that he had been there for five years. Perhaps we wouldn't have wanted to stay quite that long.

A view from the island (M. Kaplan)

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