Palau’s Extreme Reefs

Palau’s northernmost island Ngurangel and it’s southernmost Helen Reef are separated by little over 400 miles of island peppered ocean but are remarkably similar. Both are low lying sandy features surrounded by huge atoll reefs which makes them a haven for both marine and bird life.

Helen Reef filmed during an illegal fishing observer mission

Helen reef  is a long thin spit of land, sparsely vegetated and has a resident population of 4 rangers, 3 dogs and about 5000 sea birds. The rangers have their own accommodations and  keep an eye out for illegal fishing activities. It lies closer to Indonesia than it does Palau’s capital Koror.

It’s inner reef is calm with huge hard coral formations and large numbers of stingrays of various species, Tiger Sharks are also known to be there.

Ngurangel Island and Velasco Reef

Ngurangel Island 405 miles to the north is less welcoming, it’s the size of a football pitch with no vegetation, no shade, no water, nothing but broken corals and sand, whale bones, a wrecked boat and parts of a crashed plane. Birds however love it and they nest there in their thousands.

Ngurangel island is the size of a football pitch with no shade. It’s home to thousands of nesting seabirds.
Thousands of Terns and Noddies nest on this tiny island surrounded by one of the richest reefs in the world

The surrounding reef of Velasco has been a Marine Protected Area for over ten years and is incredibly rich in marine life.

It’s welcome relief to get in the water after even only a few minutes on the island such is the heat reflecting off the bleached ground, what you find there is nothing short of spectacular.


Contact Lightning Strike Productions to organize an expedition to these remote atolls.


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