Into a unique and vulnerable part of the world
When I landed in Palau, a powerful poem was stamped in my passport - the Palau Pledge - written by the children here in Palau. I had to sign it to be admitted, which I did with joy and humility.
I'm in a small boat heading out to the Rock Islands in Palau to snorkel. Hundreds of small, green-clad islands stick up from the vast ocean. I get a lump in my throat, a small tear presses on - it's so insanely beautiful here.
There is a vulnerable and unique landscape around me. I feel lucky to see this unique island kingdom, but most of all I am humbled. I am only a guest here and my tracks will be washed away with the sand.
Love the sea
My name is André Marton Pedersen and I am the new content producer who will be on board Statsraad Lehmkuhl from Palau to Manila. I live in Lysefjorden, just south of Bergen, with my partner and children.
I grew up boating and love being on the lake. Taking my children out on fishing trips and discovering new hidden gems in Western Norway are very fun and meaningful. Now I am very much looking forward to being with Statsraad Lehmkuhl and One Ocean Expedition.
Jellyfish Lake and Shark City
The guide welcomes me to Jellyfish Lake, the first stop on today's snorkelling trip. The spot is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A few minutes later we are swimming among millions of harmless jellyfish. It's like being in outer space!
But climate change has made Jellyfish Lake too warm for the jellyfish. Twice before, the jellyfish have disappeared for several years, but fortunately reappeared. The lake is again open for visitors, for now.
After Jellyfish Lake I swam with a blacktip reef shark for the first time in my life! It was nerve-wracking, but a lot of fun! These sharks are harmless to humans, but humans are not harmless to sharks. The guides have several times seen sharks without the dorsal fin, cut off by tourists. Understand it if you can.
Down on the sandy bottom lived old shells. One of them was over 100 years old and over a meter wide! Incredibly beautiful. I lay in the water for a long time and just looked at it. Right next to it was also a large shell, but this one was empty. The guides told me afterwards that some tourists had dug out the entrails and now the shell is dead. Understand it if you can.
A different day
After the snorkeling trip, I wanted to discover Palau on land, and yesterday I went Long Beach, in the very north of the island. Chalk white sand as far as the eye can see. Palm trees swaying in the wind. A sign that says “Beware! Falling coconuts”. It was just like a postcard.
At first I just saw all this beauty, but then I discovered something else. Something that shouldn't be there.
In both directions there were thousands of plastic products washed ashore by the waves. Sandals, bottles, toothbrushes, pieces of rope, broken buckets and a basketball were some of what I found. A coconut had grown through a piece of isopor.
I sat down on the beach and could have taken a swim and have a meal, as my original plan was, but it didn't work out! Not now. I could not stop thinking about all that plastic. The day was instead used to fill four sacks with plastic - and it was great fun!
The Palau Pledge
When I landed in Palau, a powerful poem was stamped in my passport - the Palau Pledge - written by the children here in Palau. It reads like this:
Children of Palau,
I take this pledge as your guest,
to preserve and protect your beauty
and unique island home.
I vow to tread lightly, act kindly,
and explore mindfully.
I shall not take what is not given.
I shall not harm what does not harm me.
The only footprints I shall leave are those
that will wash away.
I signed the poem with joy and humility. My signature should not only apply to my stay in Palau, but also to all other places I am - for the rest of my life.
Saturday we are heading for Yokohama, and I am very excited about what lies ahead. The people on board, the research to be carried out and the weather. One thing is certain - there will be a lot to talk about, and I'm looking forward to it!
The adventure is out there!