The Junior and Senior classes of Mindszenty High School (MHS), in collaboration with Palau Visitors Authority (PVA), planted 200 giant clams in Ngermedellim Marine Sanctuary in Melekeok State yesterday morning.
The community outreach program, marking the opening of Catholic Schools Week, was organized by PVA staff with support from Melekeok State to give students hands-on experience with environmental conservation. The students took turns scattering the juvenile clams, which were provided by a local farm in Melekeok, in the shallow coastal waters off of the pier next to Melekeok State Office.
The PAN Rangers who assisted in the distribution said that the shallow marine environment is ideal for clam nurseries, providing the sunlight and the drifting plant-life in the seawater which giant clams need in order to feed and grow.
High Chief Reklai Raphael Ngirmang of Melekeok State addressed the Mindszenty students after the clam-planting had finished, and stated that there are three reasons why community efforts to protect marine life are important to Palauans: food security, environmental conservation, and unity. The High Chief Reklai stressed that Palauans must work to farm their own food rather than relying solely on imports, not only for economic concerns but also in preparation for emergencies when cargo ships cannot access Palau. He also said that protection of natural resources is an important part of the Palauan identity, as are communal actions which encourage unity among people.
The Junior and Senior students also cleared the surrounding coast of plastic garbage, while the MHS Sophomores and Freshmen conducted an ocean cleanup yesterday in the Southern Lagoon.
Mr. Froylan Salvador, who teaches Biology at MHS, stressed that the clam-farming project was a good “hands-on” activity important for students to better understand Palau’s marine environments. He said that cooperating with environmentally-focused organizations such as PVA and the Ebiil Society is important to giving students more immersive experiences among coral-reef ecosystems, where students can actively apply the knowledge they learn in class.
The Melekeok Marine Protected Area (MPA) is part of an interstate Protected Areas Network (PAN), designed to protect and replenish Palau’s marine life. In addition to protecting the existing life within these areas from fishing, projects such as this one and other projects such as coral-planting seek to “reintroduce” life into the marine ecosystems.

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  1. High Chief Reklai Raphael Ngirmang was a my First Sargent on the USS Proteus in Guam 77-79. He has been a life long inspiration to me. I am very glad to hear of his work in conservation. All the men of the Marine Detachment loved this man for his leadership and his friendship. I hope the Chief is still in good health and send him my warmest regards.

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