Ulithi Atoll: Coral Reef Research

Join this exciting effort to generate research data in support of a locally-managed marine area.


In 2011, the community of Falalop in Ulithi Atoll declared their intention to establish a locally-managed marine area, and requested assistance from Oceanic Society to develop scientific recommendations for management. Since then, our senior conservation scientists Nicole Crane and Michelle Paddack have led yearly expeditions to collectcoral reef and fish data needed to inform the community’s conservation efforts. We invite you to join this exciting program as a volunteer in 2014!

A researcher collects coral reef data in Ulithi Atoll.

Located approximately 100 miles northeast of Yap State, and 300 miles south of Guam, Ulithi Atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia has 200 miles of pristine reef. Ulithi’s lagoon is the fourth largest in the world, and is surrounded by 36 tropical islands, four of which are inhabited. Situated near to the Yap trench, Ulithi receives deep-sea nutrient upwellings that support an astonishing array of marine life. Rare corals, sponges, colorful tropical fish and reef invertebrates exist in profusion.

This coral reef monitoring program is being implemented at the invitation of Ulithi community chiefs who wish to have a better understanding of their subtidal natural resources in order to inform sustainable marine management. Under the direction of our senior conservation scientist Nicole Crane, volunteers will collect data on key fishes and invertebrates to develop a subtidal community structure database as part of a sustainable management strategy.

The vibrant coral reef in Ulithi. © Wayne SentmanOur program begins in Yap with a couple days of training in the field before we travel to the research site. After our briefing, we enjoy several snorkeling excursions in Yap to test our equipment and begin learning to identify specific fish and coral species. We also take the opportunity to observe manta rays, for which Yap is globally renowned. From Yap we fly to the remote coral atoll of Ulithi, home to nesting green sea turtles, coconut crabs, and seabirds such as frigates and boobes. There we will stay at the comfortable Ulithi Adventure Resort on Falalop Island. From here we make daily snorkeling excursions by boat to conduct research at a variety of study sites. 

Throughout the expedition, we stay in comfortable, double occupancy rooms with private baths. Snorkeling excursions are aboard privately chartered boats.

An aerial view of islands in Ulithi Atoll.


Day 1-2:

Day 3-5:
Fish and coral familiarization training.  Tour of Yap's diverse fauna and flora, and see the famous stone money and other cultural sites.

Day 6:
Yap/Ulithi. Fly to Ulithi.  Welcome, briefing and afternoon beach snorkeling.

Day 7-12:
Reef monitoring activities. Free time for recreatinal snorkeling, bird watchng including visiting the Oceanic Society sea turle monitoring site at the Turtle islands.  Introduction to Ulithi culture and attend a traditional dance event.

Day 13:
Ulithi/Yap.  Afternoon on your own.  Last chance to appreciate Yap's amazing arts and crafts.

Day 14:  Yap/Honolulu. Morning land excursions, evening flight to Honolulu.

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Upcoming Trips:

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Trip Cost:

To be announced