The wondrous coral reefs of Palau are about to get a health check by scientists from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, during a visit partly underwritten by an unusual gift from donors.
Nine philanthropists collectively gave SIO more than $100,000 for the expedition to Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific, about 7,000 miles from San Diego.
SIO donors routinely support broad areas of science, but they rarely band together to pay for specific research in remote parts of the world.
“Our goal is to study coral reefs of the Pacific, gaining visions of island areas that often don’t receive many underwater visitors,” said Stuart Sandin, the Scripps marine ecologist who leads the project.
“While some areas of Palau are popular for tourism, the southwest islands are remote from most tourism and science to date. Working with management partners, we will conduct a two-week expedition surveying 5 of these remote islands — Sonsorol, Pulo Anna, Merir, Tobi, and Helen reef.
“A chronic challenge with conducting science in remote parts of the ocean is in getting there. Chartering ships carries costs that are outside the reach of most research grants. Partnering with philanthropy has opened an invaluable opportunity to get new science completed in critical areas.”
The expedition begins later this month. All nine donors will participate in part of the trip as observers, including Robert Rex, a San Diego…
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