On our Global Reef Expedition mission to Palau in January 2015, our team of scientists surveyed 85 different coral reefs, stretching from Angaur in the south, through the majestic reefs of the Rock Islands UNESCO World Heritage Site, all the way to Kayangel Atoll and Ngeruangel Reef in the north. The team explored barrier reefs, atolls, fringing reefs, reef channels, back reef environments and lagoonal patch reefs assessing the community dynamics and health of corals, fish and other benthic organisms.
Perhaps one of the more striking takeaways from this mission was the incredible coral cover and diversity. Palau boasted over 40% live coral cover across all sites surveyed—the highest overall average live cover observed on the Global Reef Expedition. To put that number into perspective, when the GRE visited reefs in Fiji we recorded an average of just over 30% live coral cover. Even when compared to other locations that are well known coral hot spots, like French Polynesia and areas of the Great Barrier Reef, Palau’s live coral cover still appears to be unrivaled.