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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ulithi Atoll - Micronesia's Snorkelers Paradise

Healthy Coral © 2011 Wayne Sentman
Ulithi Atoll is one of my favorite places to spend time in the water. The snorkeling here is incredible, with vibrant coral reefs and a diverse array of marine life, in some of the clearest water I have ever snorkeled. The clarity rivals another favorite snorkel spot, the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. This past week our intrepid group of Oceanic Society travelers left the Rock Islands of Palau flying to Yap, Micronesia. The following day we boarded a charter plane to fly 90 miles due North to the tiny island of Falalop, part of Ulithi Atoll, the second largest atoll in the Pacific. To say that Falalop is difficult to reach is an understatement. Landing on the 3000-ft. Runway we were met by a good portion of the island's 400 residents. Falalop has a small guest house and it is here that our group of 12 was based for the next four days to explore the nearby reefs and visit the community supported marine sea turtle project.

Multiple Coral Species © 2011 Wayne Sentman
Near to Falalop are an assortment of islands with spectacular coral reef ecosystems. From colorful protected lagoon reefs to outside walls that drop off steeply into cobalt blue waters our group saw sea turtles, sharks, and many fish species. With visibility generally 80-ft or more treasures were to be found all around. Over the 7 years that I have had the privilege of visiting this island and the people that call it home I have always tried to spend as much time as possible in the water. To follow is a small sample of some of the amazing marine life our group experienced on this latest trip.

Palette Surgeonfish © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Blacktip Reef Shark © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Colorful Coral © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Leopard Wrasse © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Longnose Filefish © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Massive Coral Heads - Clear Water © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Guineafowl Puffer © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Bicolor Fangblenny © 2011 Wayne Sentman

Black-Saddled Toby © 2011 Wayne Sentman

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