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Stunning Photos from Snorkeling Expedition Showcase Palau’s Amazing Reefs

By Brian Hutchinson

In November 2016, a group of Oceanic Society travelers joined naturalist Keoki Stender for a week-long snorkeling expedition in Palau, home to some of the world’s best snorkeling.

In addition to being an experienced naturalist, marine biologist, scuba instructor, and educator, Keoki is an outstanding underwater photographer and the creator of marinelifephotography.com, a popular species ID resource for Hawaii and beyond. The following images captured by Keoki throughout the expedition reveal the vibrant coral reefs, range of habitats, and diversity of fish, corals, and other marine species that make Palau one of the best snorkeling spots in the world.

Keoki, who is an avid scuba diver with more than 25 years of experience in the dive industry, had this to say about leading the trip:

“Went scuba diving for three days before guests flew in but I loved the snorkeling a lot more ... Each site we visited had different types of fish and coral, no two were alike. We also saw war relics. Palau's coral and fish diversity is incredible, can't wait to go back.”
Keoki’s incredible images tell the rest of the story:

One of Palau's colorful hard coral (Acropora sp.) gardens. © Keoki Stender

Brightly colored Redfin Anthias (Pseudanthias dispar). © Keoki Stender

Aptly-named Soft Coral Arch is one of Palau's most unique snorkel sites. © Keoki Stender

Oceanic Society traveler, Jane, watches colorful Anthias on the reef. © Keoki Stender

A male mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus), one of Palau's best-known fish. © Keoki Stender

Palau's Rock Islands are beautiful above the surface too. © Keoki Stender

An eight-banded butterflyfish (Chaetodon octofasciatus). © Keoki Stender

Staggering coral diversity at Fantasy Reef. © Keoki Stender

A school of sabre squirrelfish (Sargocentron spiniferum). © Keoki Stender

The coral gardens of Ulong Island are the perfect home for a giant clam (Tridacna gigas). © Keoki Stender

Oceanic Society traveler, Mary, points to a blue devil damselfish (Chrysiptera cyanea). © Keoki Stender

Exploring the wreck of a Japanese Zero aircraft from WWII. © Keoki Stender

A pair of blackback butterflyfish ((Chaetodon melannotus). © Keoki Stender

For more information about our Palau snorkeling expeditions (Keoki will lead the November 2017 departure), including itineraries, trip dates, prices, and more photos, click here!

Keoki will also be leading our Raja Ampat and Banda Sea Biodiversity Cruise in September 2017, an epic 17-day liveaboard trip through the areas of highest recorded marine biodiversity.


Brian Hutchinson is Oceanic Society's vice president of outreach, co-founder of the State of the World's Sea Turtles Program, and program officer of the IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Brian holds a B.A. in zoology from Connecticut College, and has been working to advance global marine conservation for more than a decade.


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