Tropic Dancer – Palau
Captain’s Log April 5 – April 12
After 4pm on Sunday, we started our pickups, in total we welcomed on board 18 guests, A group of 13 people from the US, 2 people from Canada, 2 from Germany and 1 single guest also from the US. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins. Then on the dive deck, everyone set up their dive gear. After everyone got checked in we headed upstairs to dinner. Then we covered the safety briefing and vessel orientation, handed out the nautilus lifelines and watched a documentary on Palau.
Early Monday morning we started up the big boat early headed into Malakal Harbor and straight down towards Peleliu. This week the Emperor of Japan is visiting Peleliu and during his visit, the southern part of Peleliu is off limits to all operators. If we want to dive Peleliu, it would be today, the rest of the week it’s closed. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing and we stopped for our check out dive south of German Channel at Ngedebus Coral Garden. We started the dive over the shallow coral garden, entered the water and did our weight check and descended down. We had a nice encounter with a large spotted eagle ray. To end the dive we spotted a crocodile fish down deep, we descended down to it for some quick photos. Back on the big boat we continued the rest of the way to Peleliu south dock. After the big boat tied up our second dive was at Orange Beach Coral Garden. We drifted along the hard coral garden with the shallows on our right and found several schools of fish, also some nudibranchs mixed in with the coral. After lunch dive three was at Barracks Point. The current was not cooperating with us on the dive, it switched twice. We did get to see several turtles and half the group saw a truly magnificent sight, one of the dive masters saw a couple devil rays off in the blue, we banged on our tank and got everyone’s attention and swam into the blue to get a better view, there had to be over 50 devil rays all swimming in formation in the blue water. For our fourth and last dive in Peleliu we took the skiff out to West Wall. We started the dive from the beautiful red anemones that cascade down a crack on top the reef, then descended down along the wall. We spotted several sharks in the blue and some great macro life as well. During dinner the big boat moved out of south dock and back to the German Channel area. After dinner we did the last power point presentation on using reef hooks.
Tuesday morning we started the day with the world famous Blue Corner. We had an incoming current and entered the water and drifted to the hook in area. The current was not that strong but it was good, we hooked in at 45 feet and watched the show. There were a bunch of sharks in front of the divers, the horse eyed jacks made it look so easy to hang out in one spot along the top of the reef. Soon the Napoleons joined the group and swam in and out of all the divers. Around 45 minutes into the dive we unhooked and explored the top of the plateau before coming up to the surface. For did two we went to Blue Holes. We tied the skiff off to the mooring off to the side of the holes. We entered the water and swam over on the surface and descended down one of the holes into the cavern. We took photos with all the ambient light coming from the top and found the disco clam. On the side of the cavern, before we exited, we found a pygmy sea horse on a sea fan. We ended the dive on the outgoing side of Blue Corner. After lunch dive three was at Big Drop Off. All the guests enjoyed the drift along the wall; we saw a lot of macro life and a couple of sharks off the wall in the blue. For the forth dive we had an incoming current and went to German Channel. We started from the Koror side of the channel and stopped at the Red anemone for photos. We then continued to the Koror side cleaning station, before we got there we saw a big spotted eagle ray lying in the sand. At the cleaning station nothing was happening, after 10 minutes we left and swam across the mouth of the channel to the Peleliu side cleaning station. We sat down and waited, but again nothing was coming in to be cleaned. Before we left the cleaning station we had two mantas pass by over top us, but did not stay. As we were swimming towards the middle of the channel we spotted four mantas feeding above us in the shallow water. We left the bottom and spent the rest of the dive with the four mantas swimming around us feeding. It was a great way to end the dive. After dinner our first night dive of the charter was at Big Drop Off. We started from the mooring and in the sand shoot we found a leaf scorpion fish. We then dropped down along the wall and found several shrimps, a small scorpion fish and other macro life.
Wednesday morning we started the day by going back to Blue Corner. This time the current was outgoing and it was very light. We started from the back mooring and swam along the wall to the hook in area. There was no need to hook in; we just explored the whole top of the corner around to the incoming side. We had the napoleons with us the whole way. There were a lot of sharks off in the blue on the tip of the corner and the blue lined snapper seamed to pose for photos. For dive two we went to Dexters Wall. The current was going wall on the right so we started at the cut in the reef and right below us was a leopard shark. We descended down to 90 feet where it was lying on the rubble bottom, took some photos and continued along the wall. For the rest of the dive we kept count as we spotted turtle after turtle. In total it had to be around 10. We ended the dive as the current switched and pushed us back the way we came. After lunch we headed to Ferns Wall. We drifted along the wall and saw several turtles and a lot of macro life. Up in the shallows, the wall is covered with multi colored anthias, sea fans and soft coral. This made for an extended safety stop as we off gassed. For the fourth dive we headed to Turtle Cove. We started the dive by descending down the chimney and out to the wall. We drifted along the beautiful wall and found the square spot anthias and some turtles. At the corner we came up on top the plateau and checked out the schools of fish. After dinner we went back to Turtle Cove for the night dive. We descended down the back mooring line and found a scorpion fish sitting on the bottom. We traveled along the wall and saw banded coral shrimps and a total of four marionia SP. Nudibranchs. Also there were several basket stars out filter feeding in the current and to end the dive we found another scorpion fish.
Thursday morning we started with a repeat dive at German Channel. The current was incoming, we entered the water on the Peleliu side of the channel. Before the cleaning station we had a manta do a quick pass by in the shallows. Thinking that it would head to the cleaning station, we sat down and waited but it didn’t come back, so we headed across the mouth of the channel to the Koror side cleaning station. Right as we arrived there, a manta came in, did a quick circle around it and left. As we sat down around in the sand we noticed a Feathertail ray sleeping in the sand behind us, the photographers went over and took some photos. Off the deeper side of the cleaning station a spotted eagle ray swam by but no mantas came in to be cleaned. We then swam back into the middle of the channel and started to drift in as another manta came from inside the channel and passed right by us off into the blue water. For dive two it was high tide and we went to Virgin Blue Hole. With the high tide the skiff was able to drop us over top the hole and we descended down to 100 feet. The chimney is filled with ambient light from above and we started to swim out the tunnel to the wall. We ended the dive in the canyons and limestone formation. After lunch dive three was at New Drop Off. The current was out going and we entered the water and drifted along the wall to the hook in area. Before the hook in area we spotted about 40 baby grey reef sharks all swimming around in one area. They were fun to watch because they really didn’t know how to maneuver in the current. We then hooked in around the big cut in the reef and had a large school of barracuda off to the side of the divers. We then unhooked and explored the plateau. We spotted a couple of lion fish, eels, and turtles. The current then switched and we turned around and went back the way we came. For the fourth dive we set out to Barnums Wall. We started the dive with the wall on the left but the current changed, so we turned around and went the other way. Right where we turned around we found four cuttle fish in the hard coral garden. During the rest of the dive we spotted three eagle rays and a large crocodile fish. After dinner we went to German Coral Garden for the night dive. The current was still incoming so we started from the Koror side of the channel and drifted into the channel. We saw the red anemone and some cone shells and to end we found another crocodile fish.
Early Friday morning the big boat moved to the Ulong area and we had an incoming current for the first dive so we went to the famous Ulong Channel. We entered the water and drifted along towards the hook in area. The current was very mild so we didn’t hook in, we drifted into the channel. We saw several sharks in the channel and took photos of the lettuce coral. We ended the dive at the giant clams. For dive two we headed out to Siaes Tunnel. We descended down to the entrance of the tunnel at 90 feet and saw all the black coral bushes. In the back of the tunnel we found the blue backed pygmy angelfish and the decorated dart fish. We exited the tunnel and slowly came up the wall into the shallow water. We saw several sharks in the blue and a turtle. After lunch our third dive was at Siaes Corner. We entered the water and drifted towards the hook in area. We made it to the hook in area and hooked in. We stayed there for a while and had several sharks in the blue. We unhooked and spent the rest of the dive exploring the plateau. Our last dive of the day was at Sandy Paradise. When we got down to the bottom where the sand meets the hard coral garden we spotted a marble ray in the sand. It didn’t let us get too close and took off, but as it swam away, it passed right by us very close. Down further we found the four leaf scorpion fish and saw a large school of barracuda and the big eyed crescent tail fish. Also at the cleaning station some of the guests were able to get their hands cleaned by the cleaner wrasse. Dinner was ready when we arrived at the big boat and after dinner we watched a short video on Jelly Fish Lake, to get us ready for tomorrow.
We woke up Saturday morning and moved the big boat closer to Jelly Fish Lake. We tied the skiff up on the outside and started our hike over the hill to the lake. We entered the water and after a short swim into the middle of the lake we were surrounded by millions of jelly fish. Everyone enjoyed this time in the lake, with an estimated 13 million jelly fish. As we swam back to the pier in the lake, we found the white anemones that are eating the anemones. We hiked back over the hill and went by skiff on a rock island tour. We stopped for photos at Palau’s limestone archway, the Japanese gas station, machine gun bunker, big gun and found a sea snake sleeping on the rocks. On the big boat we had a quick turnaround and headed out to Chandelier Cave. We surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and outside the cave we found the mandarin fish. After an afternoon of cleaning, drying and packing scuba 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 most of them started packing and at 10 pm we said our goodbyes as two guests went to the airport to catch a plane to Yap.
Sunday morning at 2am we said our goodbyes to another guest as he headed to the airport. The rest of the guests woke up to continental breakfast and at 8am we said our goodbyes as they headed off to their hotel. We would like to thank all of our guests for joining us this week aboard the Tropic Dancer, hope to see you all again soon…
-Tropic Dancer Crew