The Republic of Palau commissioned a storyboard to present to Geri Murphy-Tzimoulis in honor of her late husband, Paul Tzimoulis. Paul passed away last year, but his contributions to the dive industry are something all divers benefit from every time they don a tank. Paul and Geri were frequent visitors to Palau, beginning in the '70s, and were instrumental in the development of dive tourism on the island nation. Over the years, Paul and Geri have developed an intimate relationship with Palau through diving visits, written articles and photographs, as well as personal contacts with people in the community. In recognition of their contribution and to show their respect for Paul, the dive operators, resorts and the Palau Visitors Authority handcrafted a storyboard shaped like a dolphin.
Storyboards are indigenous to Palau and are a celebration of the country's legends and culture. Until recently, Palauan history was preserved orally, the exception found in tales carved and painted on beams and gables of Bai meeting houses. Today, visitors may obtain one of these tales captured on a piece of wood called a storyboard. Storyboards are considered to be the signature souvenir from a trip to Palau.
The storyboards themselves can be made from several hardwoods that are grown on Palau. The finest storyboards are made from ironwood, or dort as it is known in the Palauan language. This is the preferred kind of wood as it is both strong and long lasting. Storyboards are sold in several places including the Tebang Woodcarving Shop and the Koror Jail.
A storyboard may take weeks to construct depending on its size. The old Palauan legends are usually the subject of the storyboards, or legends from different islands in the Federated States of Micronesia, such as Yap.
The dedication on Paul and Geri's storyboard reads, "To Geri Murphy in loving memory of Paul Tzimoulis, a pioneer in the diving industry and one of a kind in his support of Palau and Micronesia. From the UPIP [Underwater Palau International Photo Festival] and BTA [the Belau (Palau) Tourism Association]."
The story on Paul's storyboard is the Ngemelis story. Ngemelis is the island where the legendary dive site Blue Corner is located. The legend is as follows:
The Discovery of the Egg-Laying Cycle of the Turtle
Though the shell of the turtle is prized in Palau, in ancient times the people of Palau did not know how to catch the turtle.
There were once a youth of Peleliu and maiden of Ngerkebesang who fell in love. As the distance between the two islands is very great, the couple decided to meet on Ngemelis Island, which lies between the two. As they had promised, they met on Ngemelis on the night of the new moon and far into the night, they talked of plans for their future.
When the girl awoke the next morning, she found that her back skirt had disappeared, and though the two of them searched the whole island, they could find no trace. Beside the spot where she had been sleeping, however, they could see the footprints made by a sea turtle during the night. Finally, the girl had to gather leaves from coconut palms for another skirt, and having made it she said goodbye to her lover and promised to meet again on the island at the full moon.
The youth was waiting on the appointed evening when the girl arrived and ran to embrace him. They were sitting on the beach talking when they saw a turtle crawling toward them, and they could see that something was entangled in its flipper. They looked more closely. It was dragging with it a skirt, the skirt that the girl had lost on the night of the previous new moon. They learned by this that turtles in Palau space their egg laying about 15 days apart.
For more information on Palau, contact the Palau Visitors Authority at www.visit-palau.com.