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PICRC Research Assistant, MQ Mesengei, joins Taiwan’s Research Vessel “the Legend” on a 2-week research cruise

On July 7-21, 2023, a research assistant from the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), Mr. McQuinnley Mesengei, also referred to as MQ, was onboard Taiwan’s research vessel, the Legend, for a two-week research cruise. During the cruise, which took place within Palau’s EEZ, the team used different sample-collecting methods to help identify the amount of carbon that Palau’s deep waters could potentially sequester.

“Before boarding the Legend, I didn’t know much about blue carbon,” stated MQ. “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.”

During the two weeks, 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 DOC (Dissolved Organic Carbon) and TSM (Total Suspended Matter), and did plankton trawls to collect phytoplankton. “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,” MQ added.

Taiwan’s Chief Scientist onboard, Dr. Chin-Chang Hung from National Sun Yat-sen University also chimed, “Palau has a huge EEZ 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.”

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on July 21, 2023 between the College of Marine Sciences, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan and PICRC on enhancing areas of collaboration, such as joint research programs, the exchange of scientists and researchers, and others. “We are extremely grateful that MQ was able to participate in this pilot research cruise. An opportunity like this is very important to us as since we do not have the means ourselves to conduct deep ocean research. I’d like to thank Taiwan MOFA Minister Joseph Wu, Madam Ambassador Jessica C. Lee, Minister Steven Victor, and of course, H.E. President Surangel Whipps, Jr. for extending the opportunity to have a PICRC researcher onboard the Legend. And now that an MOU is in place, we look forward to closer research collaborations in the near future,” states PICRC Interim CEO, Lkong Koshiba.