Last Saturday, a group of students joined Palau's Division of Maritime Security and Fish and Wildlife Protection for an educational surveillance tour aboard the PSS Remeliik II.

Students from Palau schools got a glimpse at the research and protection efforts of the marine environment surrounding the west Pacific island nation and the diversity of animals living in its waters.

The students spent a day on board the PSS Remeliik II, a patrol boat designed and built in Australia and donated to Palau in 2020 to help the nation patrol its exclusive economic zone. The tour, which took place on Nov. 13, also included a trip of the northwest coastline of Babeldaob.

The students won their seats on the trip through the recently held Palau National Marine Sanctuary Art Contest and anniversary celebration raffle. Referred to in Palauan as Euotelel a Klingil a Debel Belau, the sanctuary is among the world's largest marine protected areas. It's been the center of various scientific studies – some of them conducted with the assistance of the Division of Maritime Security and Fish and Wildlife Protection, which took the prize-winning students on the tour.

They were joined by some special guests, including Palau Vice President Uduch Sengebau Senior.

"From combating illegal fishing and enforcing the PNMS to leading search and rescue operations, the Division of Maritime Security and Fish and Wildlife Protection's work is incredibly important to Palau," said Vice President Senior. "I'm very happy that our students have an opportunity to see their technology up close, and learn directly from the officers."

Australian Ambassador Richelle Turner also joined the students for the trip.

"It was a pleasure to join PNMS anniversary event winners. The sense of enthusiasm in learning more about maritime surveillance and research is great to see given the security, environmental and economic importance of protecting Palau's waters," Turner said.

'We had a lot of fun'

Dr. Louw Claassens, science officer with the Palau International Coral Reef Center, shared a lesson on the center's research projects in the PNMS. The lesson highlighted new studies exploring the sanctuary's deep sea environments and documenting its species diversity.

"I learned about a lot of things in the PNMS that I didn't know, like the Palau Trench, which is 8,000 meters deep," said Auryn Benhart, a PNMS art contest winner. "It was very interesting."

PNMS Surveillance and Enforcement Officer Jeremiah Ngiratreged demonstrated the division's surveillance tools, including its vessel monitoring system and monitoring camera in Angaur.

The crew also demonstrated the vessel's radar equipment, which can detect illegal fishing activity within 96 nautical miles.

The students had a chance to a ride on the PSS Remeliik II's Search and Rescue Unit, a fast and maneuverable small craft used to support the main vessel's operations.

"The trip was good; we had a lot of fun exploring the Remeliik II and seeing its equipment," said Micah Misech, one of the PNMS anniversary raffle prize winners.

Acting Commanding Officer Allison Baiei ended the day talking to students about the importance of ocean protection.

"We're doing this for your future; it's very important to protect our waters," Baiei said. "Hopefully, when you're our age, you'll be doing it for the younger generations, too."


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