Palau Aggressor Charter Mar8-15, 2015
Water Temp: 80-85 deg F
Air Temp: 78-86 deg F
Crew: Zach, Cameron, Dustin, Jay, Joe, Ernan, and Hector
Our guests this week traveled from the Caribbean, North America and Malaysia. All in all we have 17 divers who are eager to get into the water. First thing is first, we set up gear and gave everyone a vessel orientation. After eating dinner and receiving their safety briefing the guests turned in early to prepare for a full week of diving.
Monday morning started at the Teshio Maru. Although the sky was a bit cloudy the dive turned out to be great. Visibility was as good as ever and the critters were out. A Mantis Shrimp was seen under the bow of the wreck tending to his area and just above him a flatworm was spotted swimming about. A few people chose to explore the far side of the wreck and did so by making their way through the swim thru at the base of the ship. Choyu Maru was our 2nd dive of the day. It was a short skiff ride to this site as it was located just across from where the Palau Aggressor was anchored. A big wreck with multiple mast and holds to navigate in and around, the Choyu was great fun for all. Hard corals are overgrowing on the deck while Black Lip Pearl Oysters line the rails. Schools of Jacks were swimming around and a few guests spotted a massive and very curious Barracuda. We moved a bit further south for the 3rd and 4th dive. Big Drop Off provided its signature soft current which allowed the guests to relax and coast along the wall. A popular hangout for Groupers we happened to spot 3 on this dive. German Channel rounded out the day. We were able to see 3 Manta Rays gliding thru the water. A few pictures were taken to compare with the Manta data base later on as for us to identify who we saw. After finishing dinner we were treated to a presentation by David from the Columbia University. David has been working alongside the Manta Trust who are currently developing a sustainable model for the marine industry in the Republic of Palau.
Tuesday turned out to be an excellent day of diving. The sun came out early and burned all the clouds off making for a picturesque day. Blue corner and Blue Holes were our two morning dives. Schools of Barracuda, Pyramid Butterfly fish and Black Triggerfish were swarming on top of the reed. The Grey Reef sharks were extra curious today. They would swim within feet of our guest. Speaking of close encounters, a massive Green Turtle slowly glided up next to one of our divers during the hook in portion of our dive. Of course the Napoleon Wrasse was there weaving their way in and out of the dive group, this pair seems to want all the attention. Sticking to the south side of Ngemelis Island for the afternoon we stopped in at New Drop Off and Ferns Wall. A Nudibranch convention was obviously taking place as every few feet we seemed to spot another. Atop the plateau, hiding inside an Anemone was a Harlequin Shrimp. They appeased us for a few moments as we took a couple of photographs. The night dive this evening was in the German Coral Garden. A steady current was incoming and allowed us to explore the wall and then glide down the channel with ease. The guests were more than pleased to find all sorts of fish out and about. We spotted three Crocodile fish, a Lion fish, a Leaf Scorpion fish and a free swimming Moray Eel. Talk about a great dive. We were able to surface to a perfectly clear night time sky. All the constellations were shining extra bright it seemed. One of the guests said it felt like they were looking out of the cockpit of the Star Ship Enterprise.
We got off the mooring early this morning and made our way down to Peleliu. The first 3 dives of the day were spent just off the west and south of the island. Peleliu Express started the day off. A sloping wall that leads to a corner always provides great shark action. Multiple Grey Reef sharks were spotted gliding back and forth in front of the hook in area. Schools of Big Eye Jack swam by darting, in unison, atop the plateau. West Wall was our second dive of the day. A very mild current facilitated our fining as we moved down the wall. Nudibranchs dotted the reef and a massive school of Anthians stayed with us for awhile. At one point we looked down and saw the biggest Green Turtle to ever come around! So big in fact it appeared to have a small coral head growing on its shell! Some guests skipped West Wall and opted for the land tour instead which consist of a three hour drive/walk through some of the old battlefields during the war. A museum was erected some years back and displays numerous artifacts including flags, uniforms, guns and photos. The third dive was on Orange Beach. Crocodile fish can be seen lying motionless on the seabed while schools of Fusiliers and Barracuda circle above. Remnants of the war still lie on the bottom and really bring the site to life. An old anchor lies in the shallows covered in coral while further down the sloping bottom you can see old Coca-Cola bottles and ammunition from the siege. After departing Peleliu we chose Turtle Cove as our fourth and night dive. A few turtles were spotted cruising along, possible in search of a late afternoon snack. The night dive turned out to be even better. As soon as we jumped in a sizeable Octopus was spotted against the wall. Not long after that we saw a beautiful white and light blue Pleurobranch. It had to be the size of a dinner plate! Further on down the wall we saw a few crabs including one pinkish Candy Crab. Atop the corner more life fluttered around and kept us entertained throughout our safety stop.
Thursday brought us back to German Channel. A swift incoming current pushed us down the channel as we searched for the Manta Rays. Big schools of Jacks and Trevally were facing into the current sitting almost motionless over the countless coral heads. A few turtles were spotted swimming along looking for their morning meal. After a full hour underwater we surfaced and made our way back towards the boat. On the way we just happened to see a Manta feeding on the surface. Our guests just can’t get enough of these guys so we put our fins and mask back on and jumped in with him. The rest of the day we spent diving around Ngemelis Island. Blue Corner, The Canyons and Big Drop Off were all great dives. Sharks and turtles are always abundant. We actually saw what one guest described as the picturesque Green Turtle. Nestled under a coral head this turtle was quite large in size and let us approach within feet of him before slowly gliding further down the wall. The night dive brought us back to Big Drop Off. An amazing dive this evening filled with critters. We saw an Octopus, massive Hinge Beak Shrimp, Spiny Lobster, a Snake Eel and even a free swimming Moray Eel. After lightly swimming for 45 minutes we surfaced to a beautiful night sky and boarded the skiff. Of course hot chocolate was waiting for us upon our arrival and we warmed up as we chatted about what we encountered on the dive.
Friday morning we are moored just off Ulong Island. There was an incoming tide this morning so we decided to do Ulong Channel first thing. The current was mild and gently pushed us down the wall and into the channel. The Grey Reef sharks were floating by as well as the White Tips. Moving down the channel ever so easy we saw Moorish Idols chasing each other in circles and a Peacock Flounder scurrying across the sand. The Lettuce Leaf coral that is present really impressed the guest. With the morning light hitting it just right we were able to take some great photos. Just across the channel a bit to the south we ran into two Giant Clams that are easily 100 years old. After this easy dive we decided to venture out a bit further for the second. Siaes Corner is similar to Blue Corner and we were quite excited to jump and see what was swimming about. We dropped down a bit deeper on this dive and noticed a figure in the blue below us. Upon further inspection we realized it was a Silvertip shark. A good size Silvertip at that! He seemed to be moving nice and slow having a clean before he was off for his day. The hook in area brought schools of Fusiliers and Big Eye Jacks. The last two dives of the day kept us close to the anchorage. We chose Sandy Paradise and Ulong Coral Garden to finish up the day. Both have a very healthy coral system in place. Plenty of coral heads and overhangs to explore. We saw a multitude of life ranging from Leaf Scorpion Fish to Flatworms and schools of Big Eye’s. This evening after dinner we played a short video on Jellyfish Lake to give the guests a bit more insight before they were off to see it for themselves the following day.
Saturday morning the guests started at Jellyfish Lake. Millions of Jellyfish await them and I am sure they will return smiling ear to ear. Upon the guests returning, as suspected, all were very cheerful and expressing to the crew how amazing it was to swim with so many Jellyfish. After a quick break we loaded the skiff back up and the guests were shuttled over to Chandelier Caves. A small cave with three air pockets inside allows the guest to dive down into the dark but then surface every few minutes to take photos of the beautiful stalactites that hang from the ceiling. After exiting the cave we had a bit of time to explore the area just underneath the skiff. Mandarin Fish swim around in the coral rubble and the Scorpion Devil Fish slowly trudges along the bottom. Not a bad way to end a week of diving and relaxing aboard the Palau Aggressor II. The guests were quite famished after the morning excursion and were presented with a delicious lunch to fuel back up before heading to town for a few hours of exploring. Just after six o’clock the guests turned up in the salon and sat down for a drink with the crew. We all exchanged stories from the past week and enjoyed a slideshow put together by the crew. After about an hour the guests were on their way to town for an evening of dinner and dancing off the boat.
Business cards were exchanged, a few handshakes and hugs were given and a final goodbye was said as the remaining guests departed the vessel Sunday morning at eight o’clock. Some of the guests will be returning home while others will continue their travels throughout the Pacific. Either way we wish everyone a safe trip and we cannot wait until you return to dive with us again. Thanks for the great week!!