The Ulithi Atoll is a group of islands located in outer islands of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. Home to only about 600 people, it is the fourth largest atoll in the world. Only four of the 40 islets in the atoll are inhabited (Falalop, Federai, Asor, and Mogmog). The communities of Ulithi are very traditional in many ways but are experiencing rapid changes in both the environment and way of life as technology is making communication easier. Because Falalop, Ulithi is home to an airstrip, it is one of the most modern of Yap’s outer islands. The airstrip is serviced once or twice a week by Pacific Missionary Aviation (PMA). Learn more about the people and culture of Ulithi here.
The environment of Ulithi has been altered extensively by both the Japanese and the Americans since World War I. In 1914, the Japanese occupied the atoll at the outset of the First World War, and they constructed the airfield on the island of Falalop. They then used Ulithi as a radio and weather station during World War II. When the Japanese left the atoll, the Americans made it the staging area for the US Navy’s western Pacific operations. Remnants from these occupations are still visible today. The airfield on Falalop is still in use, and on Mogmog, a rusted pier leads from the beach to the reef flat. Sunken boats and equipment still sit on or near the coral reefs.
Since 2011, communities in Ulithi have been working closely with an international team of scientists to combine science and tradition in an innovative approach to marine management. The loss of traditional fishing methods and management techniques after World War II have lead to degraded reefs with few fish. Ulithi’s remote location makes it difficult to import food, and the islands are too small for much agriculture. Because of this, the health of Ulithians is intimately tied to their reefs, which provide one of the only sources of protein for Ulithi communities. For more information about these efforts and to find out how you can become involved, please visit One People One Reef.
To read more about the effects of Typhoon Maysak, please go here.