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Scientists list blue carbon as a priority for Palau's ocean research


The Taiwanese research vessel The Legend visited Palau in July. Photo courtesy of PICRC

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Koror--Palau and Taiwan have agreed to collaborate on marine research to study the blue carbon in the Pacific nation's territorial water and explore its potential benefits.


“The way I see it, the deep ocean is the most important global carbon storage warehouse on Earth. We just have to understand it better to effectively manage it and use it to our advantage,” said McQuinnley Mesengeia, a research assistant from the Palau International Coral Reef Center.


Mesengei was onboard Taiwan’s research vessel, the Legend, for a two-week research cruise from July 7 to 21, 2023.


“Before boarding the Legend, I didn’t know much about blue carbon,” Messengei said. “However, everything I learned during the cruise made me realize that blue carbon should be a priority for Palau’s deep ocean research, mainly because it can help Palau reach net zero carbon.”


According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, blue carbon "is simply the term for carbon captured by the world's ocean and coastal ecosystems."


"The bigger picture of blue carbon is one of coastal habitat conservation. When these systems are damaged, an enormous amount of carbon is emitted back into the atmosphere, where it can then contribute to climate change," NOAA explains on its website.

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PICRC said during the cruise around Palau’s territorial waters, the research team used different sample-collecting methods to help identify the amount of carbon that Palau’s deep waters could potentially sequester.


The team deployed a float trap that collected sediments to measure the amount of carbon present at different depths, collected water samples to filter the dissolved organic carbon and total suspended matter, and did plankton trawls to collect phytoplankton.


“Palau has a huge (exclusive economic zone) and the ship has not previously been to Palau’s waters. This was a very successful first expedition and we plan to come back to continue this work next year," said Dr. Chin-Chang Hung,

Taiwan’s chief scientist from National Sun Yat-sen University.


The cruise concluded with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between PICRC and the National Sun Yat-sen University,'s College of Marine Sciences enhancing areas of collaboration, such as joint research programs and the exchange of scientists and researchers.


“We are extremely grateful that MQ was able to participate in this pilot research cruise. An opportunity like this is very important to us since we do not have the means ourselves to conduct deep ocean research," said Lkong Koshiba, PICRC's interim CEO.




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