Since July, a team of Palau-based OneReef Micronesia members and trained conservation oﬃcers from partner communities conducted a series of marine imaging missions in Yap state, FSM and Ngardmau State, Palau. Two missions took place in Yap: the ﬁrst in Ngulu Atoll evaluating 12 sites, followed by another covering 13 sites around Yap proper. All sites were established through the Micronesia Coral Reef Monitoring Program and recommended by the Chief of Yap Marine Resources Mr. Anthony Yalon. In Ngardmau, 8 sites were also imaged, following the previously established sites by Palau International Coral Reef Center using the Palau Protected Areas Networks MPA Monitoring Protocol.
The success of these marine monitoring activities hinges on the active participation of community members and collaborative efforts with local partners. Community rangers and conservation oﬃcers from Ngardmau and Yap play a pivotal role in the effective monitoring and stewardship of their designated protected areas. Other partners, such as the Yap Community Action Program (Yap CAP) and the Marine Resources Management Division (MRMD) provide complimentary support such as preliminary ﬁsh surveys alongside new photomosaic technology introduced by Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The resulting 3D images of coral reef systems allow community leaders, practitioners, students, and just about anyone, to see how the reefs are changing over time, and how the variation of ocean conditions and human activities impact each reef.
Initial assessments by the survey teams are promising, indicating healthy coral reefs in Yap. Detailed results will follow the comprehensive analysis of the newly collected data in the upcoming months. The MRMD reports that preliminary data from Ngulu Atoll indicate the coral reefs are recovering from previous bleaching events and that local ﬁsh populations are thriving. Chief Anthony Yalon presented images of certain areas of the reef on Ngulu that he took in 2018 that were heavily bleached from warm sea surface temperature and images on this recent expedition where the same reefs have recovered and the coral reefs thriving with many coral recruits indicating good recovery. These initial observations conﬁrm Ngulu Atoll as a bright spot, with coral ecosystems demonstrating resilience against various external pressures, such as the escalating impacts of climate change.
Yap Senator Liyon Sulog who oversees the Ngulu community and their long term goals of effectively managing their resources praised the exceptional efforts and partnership between Yap CAP, Marine Resources, MRMD, and OneReef, acknowledging their critical role in documenting and conserving Yap’s natural heritage.
OneReef believes that the peoples and communities of the Micronesian region are critical change agents, and that they have a unique perspective to offer on the challenges facing the world. It is committed to supporting communities from the Micronesian region with the tools and resources they need to make a difference in their island ecosystems. For more information about OneReef, please visit www.onereef.org or call 488-4361.