Sara E. Cannon, PhD

Aquatic Conservation Scientist

A glimpse of Ebon (Ebon Atoll part 2 of 2)

This is the second of a two-part series about my time in Ebon Atoll. The first post can be found here.

Ebon Atoll is known for two things: its beauty and its mosquitos (which are gigantic and plentiful). The main island, Ebon Ebon, is long and narrow. In many places, the ocean is separated from the lagoon by a thin strip of land only about a hundred feet wide. It is green and lush, and is one of the most lovely places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.

People in Ebon still eat mostly local food (breadfruit, taro, fish, coconut), and almost everything non-organic is reused. As a result, the island is almost entirely devoid of trash. There are no cars, but there is a main path/road that runs straight down Ebon Ebon, and many people own bikes. It is raked and swept daily, and is landscaped beautifully, shaded by large breadfruit trees and lined with evenly-spaced shrubs. We were there right during breadfruit season, so the ground was often littered with smashed breadfruit, and the smell of it was everywhere.

The main street of Ebon Ebon.
One of my favorite examples of creative recycling is this whale vertebra (from a whale that beached last year) that was made into a swing.

When you think of life on a remote atoll, it’s easy to assume that things are pretty quiet. Life on Ebon seems peaceful, but it’s noisier than you would expect. People live their lives mostly outdoors, so you’re always surrounded by the sounds and smells of daily living: women cooking, fires burning, children laughing or crying, dogs barking, chickens crowing, and so on. At night, the bugs are deafening, and the roosters start crowing around 4 a.m. Frequent rainstorms drum heavily against tin roofs. You can almost always hear the waves. While it’s not quiet, it’s still somehow calming to be surrounded by sounds that are almost entirely organic.

Our busy schedule didn’t leave much time for exploration in Ebon, but I was able to take a couple of long walks and bike rides. I also attended church (not a normal habit, but I wanted to be respectful, and this church has an interesting history). Before the arrival of missionaries, Ebon had a reputation for violence (the crew of a trading ship was killed here in the 1851, potentially triggered by the crew’s theft of island women). In 1857, missionaries arrived in Ebon and established the first church in the Marshall Islands. The people in Ebon credit the arrival of the missionaries and the introduction of Christianity for bringing peace to their islands. The only thing breaking the peace on Ebon now is some of the dogs, as I found out the hard way on one of my bike rides (check out the GoPro footage below). If you’d like to see more of beautiful Ebon, you can also check out my friend Benedict’s drone video here.

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The oldest church in the Marshall Islands, on Ebon Ebon.



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2 responses to “A glimpse of Ebon (Ebon Atoll part 2 of 2)”

  1. Margaret Jean Cannon Avatar
    Margaret Jean Cannon

    Couldn’t see the video — it is marked private

    1. Oops, thanks for catching that! It’s fixed now. 🙂

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