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Palau: Shark and Coral Reef Monitoring

Help study shark abundance and monitor coral reef health while diving or snorkeling in beautiful Palau.

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  • Scuba dive or snorkel in some of the most shark rich and shark diverse waters in the tropical seas while contributing to conservation.
  • Help researchers collect data on coral reef health in areas of differing shark abundance.
  • Participate in an ongoing citizen science shark counting and ID project.

Coral reefs are the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the oceans, and yet they are also among the most threatened. Shark populations are also in decline globally, and scientists have begun to explore the connections between shark abundance and coral reef health. Recent findings suggest that the healthiest reefs are those with the most sharks, but more work is needed to understand the linkages between shark abundance and reef health.

As a citizen scientist on this scuba diving or snorkeling program you will learn to identify and survey sharks, corals, and reef fish in order to compare reef health in areas of varying shark abundance. Your work will be a part of ongoing efforts to document shark populations in Palau.

This is a wonderful way to explore Palau while contributing to marine conservation!

Trip Dates & Cost

2019: June 21–29. $3,250 per person.* Group limit 8.

2020: June 19–27. $3,250 per person.* Group limit 8.

* Single supplement fee $625. Trip prices do not include international airfare. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.


Michelle Paddack is a senior conservation scientist with Oceanic Society and assistant professor at Santa Barbara City College. She is a passionate marine researcher and educator whose goal is to provide tangible inputs toward sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems. Michelle holds a Ph.D. from the University of Miami and has worked with Oceanic Society since 1998. She is co-director of our reef monitoring programs, and co-investigator of the Ulithi Marine Conservation Project.

Samantha Whitcraft holds a bachelor in Natural Sciences from Harvard University and earned her master of Marine Affairs and Policy at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. As a conservation biologist, she has worked with National Geographic, WildAid and local communities to research and develop sustainable ecotourism and "citizen science." A resident of Florida, her fieldwork has taken her to the Amazon, Kiribati, the Bahamas, Fiji, and the Galapagos.


Day 1: Koror | Arrival
Upon arrival to Koror, Palau, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Most flights arrive into Palau in the evening or early morning.

Day 2: Checkout Dives, Orientation, & Training
Transfer from the hotel to the dive shop for a brief orientation and research overview before getting in our boat and heading out. You will have a check-out dive followed later in the day by a shark ID focused dive. The afternoon will be spent snorkeling and working on coral and fish ID.

Day 3: Shark Surveys (Diving)
Today we will make two dives at locations selected to provide best opportunity to see a diversity of shark species. Shark survey techniques will be discussed and practiced by the group

Days 4–7: Shark, Coral, and Fish Surveys (Diving)
Each day will consist of two dives focused on surveying shark numbers and species and then returning to the same areas to survey for coral cover and fish diversity. Free time will be used to snorkel or go for a 3rd dive (at an additional cost). Data collected will be reviewed with the group by the researcher each day.

Day 8: Koror City Tour
We will take a 1/2 day city tour to visit the Belau National Museum and local craft market. Your tour will be followed by a traditional Palauan lunch. Enjoy the afternoon on your own to explore and pack up for your departure.

Day 9: Fly home


On this expedition, we stay comfortably in double-occupancy hotel rooms in Koror, Palau while making day trips throughout the Rock Islands by private boat. Optional hotel/room upgrades are available.

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