Log Date: Sunday, May 03, 2015
Entry By: Palau Aggressor Crew
Palau Aggressor Charter May 3rd - May 10th, 2015
Water Temp: 79-84 deg F
Air Temp: 78-86 deg F
Crew: Zach, Christy, Dan, Jay, Hector, and Joe
On Sunday we greeted 11 new dive buddies from Russia and the USA. Once they were welcomed aboard the Vessel and helped to set up their gear, a delicious dinner was prepared and served by Christy. Afterwards the guests were given a safety briefing from the Captain. It was then time to get a good nights sleep. You need to be well rested before beginning a wonderful week of diving in Palau!
Our first dive on Monday morning, after we departed the dock was on the Helmet wreck, one of the casualties of WWII. Unlike many wrecks in Palau, which were salvaged after the war, the Helmet wreck wasnt discovered until the eighties. As a result the divers can find many artifacts like sake bottles, weapons, cooking pots and gas masks on the wreck. Dive two was on another wreck that met its fate during the war, this one called the Teshio Maru. Like many of the wreck dives in Palau the Teshio is home to some cool critters for the macro photographer that is prepared to look. During lunch the Palau Aggressor II moved down to the Ngemelis Island and German Channel area. The guests had their first taste of the outer reef with a dive on Ferns wall after lunch. The fourth dive was at German Channel. Famous for Manta Rays, German Channel is a must do dive, but with the Manta season is over, sightings are fairly sporadic, and this weeks guests were very lucky and excited to spot a baby Manta as we left the cleaning station!
Tuesday morning we moved the big boat down to Peleliu Island in the gentle swell and did the first of our weeks dives that required a reef hook on Peleliu express. Dive two was on the very beautiful coral garden at Orange beach. The name is not referencing a colorful spot on the island, but rather it was one of the code names for a landing area during the invasion of Peleliu by the US Marines. Peleliu was one of the fiercest battles in the Pacific, and evidence of the fighting can be found on the Island and also at this dive site. Dive four was at Turtle Cove, which produced a couple of….yep you guessed it, Turtles! Also plenty of fish action along the wall with Grey reef, White and Black tip sharks cruising the wall. During the night dive at German Coral Garden, a rare and hard to spot Robust Ghost Pipefish was spotted, causing much excitement on the ride home!
Our first dive on Wednesday was on the World famous Blue Corner. Sharks, Barracuda, Jacks, Napoleon Wrasse, and so much more, easy to understand why this dive site has the reputation it does as it never disappoints! Only a mild current today, but plenty of Sharks hanging in the blue water made for an exhilarating start to the day. Blue Holes for number two. Four sink holes on the reef top open into a large cavern, where we found Disco Clams in the wall. There are also a couple of Pygmy Seahorses on a sea fan just outside the exit. As we exited the holes we cruised down the reef on the back of the current, and made it to blue corner again. Not enough air to safely hook in so we just drifted over the Plateau which has so much to see. You could do a hundred dives here and not see it all! Dive Three was at New Drop Off, similar to Blue Corner and often as exciting. More sharks at the hook in, and a funny looking Peacock Flounder swam past. Our night dive was at Big Drop Off, where all the hard coral polyps can be seen extruded at night feeding on the passing Zooplankton.
Thursday and we tried to dive Blue Corner again, but the wind had come up over night and made it too rough to be safe, so we switched our plans and spent the day diving in a more protected area. We dove Alices Coral Garden, Ngemelis wall, German Channel, and Barnums Wall. We spotted a few Octopi, Sharks, Tuna, Barracuda, Turtles, Mantis Shrimp, a large Cow Tail Ray, and from the skiff we spotted a very large Manta making its way to the cleaning station. On the night dive tonight we saw an abundance of macro life. Nudibranchs, Banded Shrimp, Hinge beak Shrimp, Box Crabs and Coral Crabs, Twin Spot Lion Fish, and a species of Octopi that needs to be determined!
Friday morning and we headed out to Blue Corner for the first dive. The wind had died down but there was a decent swell which made for an exciting skiff ride! A good current at the hook in produced several sharks to keep us occupied, much to the annoyance of the resident Napoleon Wrasse who craves attention, and let me know it by continually bumping into my fins! We moored up in the very picturesque Wonder Channel, nestled in amongst the Rock Islands it is a simply stunning place to anchor. On the next dive we saw about half a dozen species of Nudibranch, including a couple of rarer ones, and some Banded Pipefish. In the afternoon we went for a snorkel at Jellyfish Lake where we swam with the millions of mesmerizing stingless jellies plus checked out the predacious anemones along the shoreline. After an amazing final dinner by Christy, we gathered in the saloon to watch the video of the weeks highlights.
On Saturday Morning, on our way back to Koror, we stopped off and did a dive on the Iro, a WWII wreck just outside of the harbor. After the dive we boarded the skiff and did a spectacular tour of the Rock Island courtesy of Joe. We then went for our last dive at Chandelier Cave, a must do as it is so different from anything else we dived throughout the week. With a patient eye you can find Mandarin fish and Devil Scorpion fish amongst the rubble at the cave entrance. A slide show was prepared by Hector and included all of the sights from this weeks trip which we watched at the cocktail party that evening, after which the guests enjoyed dinner in one of the restaurants in Koror.
Sunday morning we helped the guests load the luggage onto the bus and said our goodbyes as they left for their hotels. Its been a fun week and we hope to see you all again soon aboard the Palau Aggressor II.