I’ve landed in the Marshall Islands

I’ve landed in the Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands

Kids jump off a platform in front of a fishing boat in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands. Pam LeBlanc photo

Look out the windows on either side of the plane when you fly into Majuro in the Marshall Islands, and you’ll see one thing – water.

It’s a little disconcerting. But Majuro, the capital and largest city in the chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls between Hawaii and the Philippines, straddles an elliptically shaped reef about 25 miles long. It’s so skinny there’s little room for anything alongside the runway.

I can’t believe I’m here.

Marshall Islands

Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, is situated on an elliptical reef about 25 miles long. Photo courtesy Fly Fishing Nation

I’m spending a week learning about an American company’s work to bring clean water to the islands, where residents rely on rooftop runoff for their water supply. E. coli is a problem because birds poop on rooftops, contaminating the water. E. coli is a problem and until now, rates of diarrhea have been high.

But in the last five years, Sawyer – which I know because they make the Sawyer Squeeze, a portable water filter I use when I go backpacking – has installed about 7,000 filters in households across the islands. Rates of diarrhea have dropped significantly since the filters were put in.

This week, I’ll watch as officials install the last filter, completing their project.

But I’m here for other reasons, too.

Marshall Islands

Fishermen weigh their catch at the annual fishing tournament in Majuro. Pam LeBlanc photo

Some scientists consider the Marshall Islands ground zero for climate change. The average elevation here is 7 feet above sea level, and rising sea levels will certainly impact the 42,000 people who live here.

The Marshall Islands are also home to the world’s largest shark sanctuary. The sanctuary covers an area nearly four times the size of California, and commercial fishing of sharks is prohibited within its boundaries.

And, of course, I’m curious about the islands’ history as a testing site for nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958.

Marshall Islands

Miss Majuro poses for the camera during Fishermen Days in Majuro. Pam LeBlanc photo

Since I arrived 24 hours ago, I’ve settled into my very modest digs at the Robert Reimers Hotel, one of just two hotels in all of Majuro. Tourism is not much of a thing here.

This weekend locals celebrated Fishermen’s Day, and our group of journalists watched boats come in to weigh their catch at the annual billfish tournament.

Today, we’re heading out to an island. Stay tuned…

Marshall Islands

Kids swim in the lagoon in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands. Pam LeBlanc photo


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I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

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