Ulithi Atoll lies approximately 190 km (118 miles) east of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia and is made up of 40 islets surrounding one of the world’s largest lagoons at 548 km2 (211m2). Loosiep Island is one of the five “Turtle Islands” located less than 13km (8m) southeast of the inhabited Falalop Island.
WHY IS ULITHI ATOLL IMPORTANT?
Micronesia’s most important Green Sea Turtle nesting site and a healthy coral reef ecosystem.
Home to some of the most pristine Atoll forest habitat in Yap State and a newly described species of blind snake.
The community relies on traditional methods of natural resource management which are supported by modern science.
Many of the islands of Ulithi Atoll have rich ecosystems where Green Sea Turtle and seabirds thrive and the local community is able to utilize natural resources for food and daily life. Loosiep Island, an uninhabited island once used for gardening, is one of the exceptions where invasive species have altered the natural ecosystem and the community’s way of life.
On Loosiep, the introduction of invasive monitor lizards, rats, and feral pigs have led to a decline in native wildlife and inhibited the community’s ability to garden. Invasive rat populations have become so dense that crops no longer grow without direct impacts, seabirds no longer nest, and invasive species can be seen digging up Green Sea Turtle nests and devouring eggs.
The local community, the Ulithi Falalop Community Action Program (UFCAP), Island Conservation, and One People One Reef (OPOR) are coming together to remove invasive pig, monitor lizards, and rats from Loosiep Island to restore native habitat for sea turtles, native seabirds and reptiles.
Loosiep will serve as a stepping stone to the restoration of larger, inhabited islands in Ulithi and is an integral part of the community’s ongoing work to encourage sustainability and conservation. Restoration also stands to benefit the near-shore marine ecosystems where pre and post-operational surveys will further determine the impact invasive species removal has on coral reef ecosystems.
Island Conservation and our partners began the project in 2018 with community outreach and education. In 2020, following extensive baseline ecosystem monitoring, we implemented the removal of invasive rats and feral pigs. We will continue to monitor the island and evaluate innovative strategies for the removal of invasive monitor lizards.
The largest Green Sea Turtle nesting site in Micronesia