Log Date: Sunday, Mar 15, 2015
Entry By: Tropic Dancer Crew
On Sunday we picked up 18 guests from PPR for a special snorkeling charter. This group is from the US and brought on board with them a local snorkeling guide, Jayden. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins, and then gave them time to get situated in their cabins. Next we headed upstairs for the vessel orientation and safety briefing and chef Andy’s dinner was soon ready. After desert most of the guests headed to bed.
Early Monday morning we started up the big boat early headed into Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general snorkel briefing. Our first excursion was at Mandarin Fish Lake. We tied up the skiff to the mornings on the outside of the marine lake and snorkeled in. Inside the marine lake we found the mandarin fish, pajama cardinal fish, black belted cardinal fish and a nudibranch egg coil. We then snorkeled out of the lake back to the skiff. We returned back to the big boat for second and then went into Nikko Bay for another snorkel. We stopped at Rembrandts Reef and snorkeled along the top of the small drop off looking at all the different corals of had corals. After we returned to the big boat, it moved out of pinchers and into the Western Lagoon during lunch. We headed out for our second excursion. Our first stop was at the Japanese Gas Station for some photos. Then we continued on to Palau’s famous limestone archway for more photos. We also found some of the Rur flowers that are endemic to Palau and only grow in the rock islands. Then we went to our first snorkeling spot at Soft Coral Archway. This archway goes under one of the rock islands and under water, the soft coral covers the limestone, all filter feeding in the current that pushes through the archway. Our next snorkeling spot was at Cemetery Reef. It’s so named for a long time ago the Japanese placed head stone sized concrete blocks down here so try to get the coral to grow. It worked and it’s now a beautiful hard coral garden with schools of tropical fish all around. Dinner was soon ready when we arrived at the big boat, after we watched the Living Eden’s documentary on Palau.
After breakfast Tuesday morning we departed for our first trip. Our first stop was a snorkel at Sandy Paradise. Days before the new moon the bumphead parrot fish gather here to spawn, we snorkeled around for a while and we did see some bumphead parrotfish but we guessed they were all done with the morning session. We jumped back on the skiff and headed over to Ulong Channel for some more snorkeling. We did both sides of the shallow channel, we saw grey reef sharks, some turtles, the school of horse eyed jacks, and Ulong is known for its beautiful hard corals. Also the two giant clams towards the back of the channel. After the snorkeling we returned to the big boat to let the guests change their clothes and went by skiff to Ulong Island. We gave them a tour of Ulong and saw the ancient village and the monument to Captain Wilson who wrecked his ship on the shallow reefs around Palau back in the 1800’s. During lunch, we moved the big boat to Wonder Channel. After we tried up the big boat, we headed out for Fantasy Reef. We snorkeled along the shallows and saw 2 black tip sharks, and all the beautiful stag horn corals. We then continued up the east side of Palau and did a short snorkel around the Japanese zero fighter that crashed during the battle of Desecrate One in March 1944. It sits in only 5 feet of water and the tide was low enough that the tip of the propeller was sticking out of the water. Next we headed over to the Milky Way. Our crew jumped into the water and brought up handful after handful of the whit mud from the bottom. The guests then proceeded to smear it all over their bodies. The chemicals found here in the mud are supposed to be good for the skin, even though there is no scientific proof, but it’s fun to take pictures with everyone covered in the white mud. After we washed down the skiff we returned to the big boat for dinner and afterwards we watched a Palau Fish ID presentation and a short documentary on Jelly Fish Lake.
Wednesday morning we started the day with a very unique snorkel at Jelly Fish Lake. We hiked over the hill to the lake and entered the water. After a short swim into the middle of the lake, we started to see the jelly fish. Soon we were surrounded by millions of stingless jelly fish all pulsing towards the sun. We posed for pictures diving down into the thick groupings of jelly fish. We then checked out the sides of the lake where the white anemones wait to try to catch a passing jellyfish and eat it. Also the mangroves trees that line the lakes edges. We hiked back over the hill and took the skiff to Clam City. We did a short snorkel where there is a big grouping of giant clams at only 10 feet deep. We enjoyed seeing all the different colors of the mantels of the clams. Before going back to the big boat we did one last snorkel at Wonder Channel. We snorkeled around the shallow reef of a rock island and enjoyed seeing the beautiful hard corals. There were several patches of blue stag horn coral and small tropical fish. During lunch the big boat moved to the German Channel area, the tide was too low for the big boat to go through the channel to the outer reef. Our afternoon snorkel was at two site on the outer reef, Big Drop Off and Ferns Wall.. All the guests enjoyed the drift along the top of the wall; we saw a lot of tropical fish, anemones, black tip reef shark, and even a grey reef shark and turtles. On the way back to the big boat, we had to pass by German Channel. We stopped for a second to see if the mantas were feeding with the incoming current. We could see from the surface that the fusiliers and the black snapper were feeding and then we saw a tip of a mantas wing pop out of the water, the mantas were feeding. We jumped in the water and swam over to the feeding area, in total we saw 3 mantas swimming below us feeding on the plankton. It was a great way to end the day. Dinner was ready when we arrived and after we watched a documentary called Oceans.
Thursday morning we started off with snorkeling at Blue Corner and Blue Hole. When we arrived the current was a light incoming so we entered the water and snorkeled along the top off the wall over the hook in areas. We saw some sharks and a big dog tooth tuna. The current then switched to outgoing so we jumped back on the skiff and went over to Blue Holes. We spent some time over top the 4 holes on top the plateau and swam down to Blue Corner. We drifted over top the plateau and saw the school of horse eyed jacks and turtle. We got back on the skiff and drove to Ngemelis Coral Garden. We snorkeled along the shallow hard coral garden and spotted a couple sweet lips, turtle, and some anemones. After lunch we started our next excursion started at New Drop Off. We snorkeled across the shallow part of the plateau and saw several turtles, black tip reef shark. Then we headed over to Barnum’s Wall. We drifted along the top of the drop off and saw a large spotted eagle ray cruising along the wall. Next we went back to German Channel. There were still several boats with divers at the site so we started at the furthest mooring from the mouth and let the current push us into the channel. We swam along the side of the channel where it’s shallow and saw some white tip reef sharks and a turtle. We jumped back on the skiff and waited at one of the moorings at the mouth. We could see that the fish were feeding at the surface but we waited because the current was stronger than yesterday, until we saw a manta wing pop out of the water. Once we spotted the wing we entered the water and swam over top the feeding action and had two mantas below us with their mouths open filter feeding on the plankton. Once we got tired we just stopped swimming and drifted in the channel for the skiff to pick us up. Back at the big boat dinner was ready and soon everyone was off to bed.
On Friday morning we started the day at German False Channel. This is the shallow part at the back of German Channel where the Germans cut through the reef. With all the nutrients being funneled into the mouth of the channel it ends up back here. The coral life is spectacular. The current was outgoing so we started in the shallow hard coral garden with turtles, giant clams, and headed out the channel along the side. It was beautiful. Then the skiff took us to Turtle Cove. We started at the hole on top the reef and followed the wall drop off to the corner. We spent some time at the corner over top the schools of fish; snapper butterfly fish and rudder fish. After lunch we headed out for our last snorkeling excursion. We started at Big Drop Off. All the guests really enjoyed this the other day so we scheduled it again. The tide was really low so we stayed above the drop off. Several anemones were balled up feeding, they made for great photos and one of the guests got too close to a titan trigger fish nest and got attacked by the female trigger fish. Then we headed to our last spot near Ngedebus island. We started at the corner and drifted along the shallow area along the wall. Near the corner the coral life was great with schools of fish, a couple of sharks, and turtles. When we arrived back at the big boat we moved in through German Channel and from the sun deck we spotted three mantas in the channel. We gathered on the sun deck for a group photo then sunset photos and headed down to the salon for dinner. After we watched a documentary on Peleliu and the battle that took place during WWII.
We woke up Saturday morning and moved the big boat closer to the North Dock of Peleliu along the inside reef and took the skiff in for a Peleliu WWII land tour. We saw the cave systems, the museum, the monuments at Orange beach and atop Bloody Nose Ridge, the air field and many more artifacts. After the tour we met back up with the big boat and during lunch the big boat moved all the way back to Koror. After an afternoon of relaxing and packing snorkeling gear, we gathered in the salon at 6pm for the cocktail party and watch a photo slideshow of the week and soon after all the guests headed off into town for dinner. After dinner the guests came back to the boat, and relaxed with a glass of wine and soon were off to bed.
Sunday morning the guests woke up to continental breakfast and at 8am we said our goodbyes as they headed off to their hotels. We would like to thank all of our guests for joining us this week aboard the Tropic Dancer, and a very special thank you to Snorkeling Etc. and Wendy Simon for bring us this great group of snorkelers, hope to see you all again soon…
-Tropic Dancer Crew