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Brooke Williams profiles Jim Maragos and Daria Siciliano, two biologist who have been working together and have dedicated their lives to preserving, understanding and teaching us about our planets coral reefs.

Live Expedition - Daily Journal
May 17th, 2001

by Terry Tempest Williams

"In the sun's orb, made porous to receive
And drink the liquid light, firm to retain
Her gathered beams, great palace now of light."

Paradise Lost
John Milton

Palmyra. Paradise. Atoll. We are always imagining paradise - the perfect "gateway" "hideaway" where we can disappear and flourish on sunlight, water, and coconuts. An orchid tucked behind our ear. The shuddered light of palms. Bodies burnished and bronzed. Paradise lives in the South Pacific; each day ends with an applause of pink light.

We are here in paradise. A paradise now purchased by The Nature Conservancy. 600 acres of land, 15,000 acres of reef. A paradise of privilege. It is a privilege to be here. We are privileged individuals. I know that. We are taking nothing for granted. Is this what wildness has come to - privilege - a privileged arrangement of paradise?

Perhaps we should tell this to the boobies -- red-footed and brown -- the bristle-thighed curlews, the schools of convict tangs oblivious to their plight swimming in and out of the waving corals. This atoll is oblivious. It exists on its own time, through time, and in spite of a world growing increasingly hungry for paradise, it not only survives but flourishes.

Sooty terns clamor above us.

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