The Palmerston freediving gang with their new gear from Austin's.

Austin's enthusiastically responded to CCRC's call for support of the Palmerston Islanders.Thanks to the generosity of Austin's Diving Center, six islanders received new freediving equipment in October, 2000.

Bob and Tikaroa, inspecting their new gear. Palmerston Atoll Freediving Team - sponsored in part by Austin's Diving Center

Palmerston Atoll
Palmerston is an isolated atoll in the Cook Islands, South Pacific. Among other distinctions such as its unfished, pristine reef system, lack of an airstrip, and extreme isolation - roughly 300 miles to the nearest other point of land, Palmerston Atoll attracts a great number of humpback whales each austral winter (see CIWR Humpback Survey).

Coconuts and fish are the traditional staples of the islanders. Palmerston's fishermen feed their families by braving strong currents and voracious reef sharks to spear parrotfish and other delectable species using rusting, antiquated equipment. Some fish are also caught by trolling outside the reef, and still more are caught for export by hand-set nets. Limited amounts of vegetables are grown on the atoll due to a lack of suitable soil. The islanders' diet is now supplemented by rice, sugar, coffee, and occasional fruits. These supplies as well as diesel fuel for their generators, gasoline and oil for their outboard engines, and videotapes are delivered on an unpredictable schedule by a mail boat about every 4 months. Passing yachts play an increasingly important role in the island's commerce. There is no cash economy on Palmerston. Services, labor, and food are bartered between islanders and visitors.

Special thanks to Doug Austin who has taken great personal interest in CCRC and the people of Palmerston.

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