The Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) researchers attended and presented their work during the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) that was held in Honolulu, Hawaii from June 19-24. The PICRS researchers that made oral presentations included researchers Marine Gouezo, Shirley Koshiba, and Evelyn Otto. Research assistant Geory Mereb also made a poster presentation during the conference.
The ICRS is the biggest and most prestigious international meeting focused on coral reef science that is held once every four years; it could be thought of as the Olympics of the science community. The conference accommodated over 2,500 coral reef scientists from nearly 100 nations, that brought experience and expertise from scientists to share with the international science community. Not all the scientists who submitted their oral presentations were accepted, but all PICRC researchers that submitted their abstracts were selected to present during the conference.
Ms. Gouezo gave a talk on the impacts of super-typhoons Bopha and Haiyan on Palau’s eastern outer reefs, which were severely damaged. She also discussed the current research to explore the recovery potential of the eastern coral reefs along with the drivers that maximize reef recovery.
Ms. Koshiba talked about the importance of social economic information for effective management of the protected areas in Airai, Kayangel, Ngaraard, Ngchesar, Ngiwal, and Peleliu. Often times, studies on the effectiveness of protected areas rely heavily on biological and ecological information. But Ms. Koshiba discussed the work at the Center on socio-economic research. She explained the equal importance of biological and ecological information with socio-economic information that can help resource managers in effective management of Palau’s conservation areas.
Ms. Otto’s presentation focused on the impacts of snorkelers on shallow coral reef communities in the small island nation of Palau, which is facing rapid growth in tourism. This research by PICRC explored tourist behaviors in snorkeling sites, tour guide practices, coral damage, and amount of fish and other marine organism present in five popular snorkeling sites.
Mr. Mereb’s poster showed the results of PICRC’s research on the impacts of the protection on seagrass communities. Through long term monitoring, the data showed that these protected seagrass beds had higher marine resources than seagrass beds that were not protected.
In addition to the research team, PICRC’s Director of Research and Aquarium Department, Ms. Geraldine Rengiil, co-chaired a session at the symposium. Also attending the meeting was PICRC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Vice President of the International Society for Reef Studies, Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, who took part in the Leaders’ Summit.
The theme for this year’s conference was Bridging Science to Policy. The ICRS had allowed PICRC researchers to present their work and to hear about the findings of other coral reef researchers from around the world. Through this conference, Palau’s local talent and efforts has contributed to both the region and the international world stage’s knowledge in conservation. [/restrict]