Skip to content

Palau’s Sharks – Plight to Protection

2010 April 16

Most trek to Palau to behold beneath its sea. Become a certified diver? Check. My EPA dive team colleagues warned it would be hard to top, until I’m diving off Massachusetts this summer I can’t say, but I’ve likely been completely spoiled.

I started caring about animals far earlier than usual. Natural instincts were supplemented by growing up outside catching pollywogs, and when indoors, watching a 1980s, taped, National Geographic special on whales and sharks, incessantly… (Where scientists test which wetsuit colors attract Jaws the most, I think it was a tie, and divers caress sleeping Tiger sharks?!) While Palau didn’t have whales, it is the first country to create a shark sanctuary throughout its marine territory; and thank goodness.

We probably saw 50 sharks on the trip, I lost count. White tip, black tip, grey reef! I never felt threatened as they gently swam by. Diving Blue Corner, seeing these beautiful creatures, catching a glimpse into their behavior, just feet away took my breath away. I wanted to dive deeper and watch them for hours.

I heard of shark finning, seen atrocious images, but it really hit me there. How unnecessary to destroy these fascinating animals? Palau’s shark population and diversity had been devastated by foreign vessels, but heroic efforts in the community over the past decade helped the government enact some of the toughest shark protection legislation in the world.

Concerned Palauans had Ron Leidich’s help (told you he knows his stuff) along with Noah Idechong, Delegate to Palau’s National Congress and founding member of the Palau Conservation Society. Local efforts were aided by the help of Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.” Both Ron and marine biologist Ethan Daniels helped the film crew capture the plight of Palau’s threatened shark population by surprising a foreign vessel with holds full of shark carcasses and fins. While it wasn’t yet illegal, the ship falsely declared the cargo as “tuna and other permitted catch” to Palau Customs officials. This captured for the world to see, caused international outcry and support to protect Palau’s top, living, attraction. Dermot Keane, another friendly face at Sam’s Tours, who we met after diving went on to launch the Palau Shark Sanctuary in November 2001, to continue the fight to end shark finning in Palau and around the world.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey, EPA New England, on detail, EPA’s Office of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. RD Milne permalink
    April 16, 2010

    I delivered a ship to Singapore in 1997, I also had the opportunity to experience the people and diving of Palau, both of which are beautiful. I was just wondering how the coral looks, when I was there it was dying, without the growth on the coral it’s rather beautiful. I would like to see waste to energy plants deployed in every island nation, it is so expensive to run a society off generators and have garbage shipped off the Islands, what a terrible waste of resources. Currently I’m working with True Green Energy Group, I am finally doing something greater than myself, I’m working diligently working on keeping the people of the world from drowning in their own waste. Again please give me an update on the condition of the coral. Be Well RD

  2. George Clemence permalink
    April 17, 2010

    Thank you very much at least they can be taken cared of.

  3. armansyahardanis permalink
    April 17, 2010

    Greatest adventure, interesting and smart travelling !!!!!

  4. Jeanethe permalink
    April 19, 2010

    We did get some pictures of coral while snorkeling. For the first time I got to see what new coral growth looks like! Many are working hard to protect the diversity of coral that grows around Palau’s waters – beautiful; so many colors and textures. I think the next blog entry would be a perfect time to share some of those pictures! Hopefully this Friday afternoon, check back, and thanks for your thoughts!

  5. ed hardy permalink
    April 22, 2010

    i dont know how describe your blog,it really pretty,i can learn some from your blog!
    i m luky enough!thanks!

  6. Richard Milne permalink
    May 5, 2013

    I hope to visit Palau again, the atmosphere and the people are fantastic.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS