Since July 2016, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) has been studying the impact of snorkelers on coral reefs at popular tourists snorkeling sites in the Rock Islands.  This month, PICRC researcher Evelyn I. Otto and her colleagues at PICRC released the report, titled, “Impacts of snorkelers on shallow coral reef communities in Palau”.  


In this study, Ms. Otto and her colleagues examined the effects of the high number of snorkelers on the reefs at five popular sites at the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (RISL). The study sites included: Fantasy Island, Cemetery Reefs, Wonder Channel, Big Drop-Off and Rose Garden. These surveys were conducted twice a year, once in July 2015 (low season) and another in January 2016 (high season). At each site, surveys were conducted for benthic community, fish community and observations of snorkelers’ behavior. Researchers also has reference sites for which they used to compare the popular snorkeling sites, to see the difference between a frequently visited site to one that is not visited often.

The study showed that the snorkeling sites had significantly higher rubble cover and coral fragments. In contrast to corals, fish sizes were significantly larger at the snorkeling sites compared to the reference sites.

The report is now available to the public. Copies of the report have been distributed to relevant agencies.  You can download a copy of the report from the PICRC website: or get a copy from the PICRC library. Please contact us at 488-6950 or via email at, if you have any questions. [/restrict]