Log Date: Thursday, Jul 09, 2015
Entry By: Palau Aggressor Crew
Palau Aggressor Captains Log for July 9th-19th, 2015
Water Temp: 82-86F
Air Temp: 78-86F
Crew: Zach, Hector, Christy, Joe, Dan, Jun and Herence
This week the Palau Aggressor welcomed aboard seven guests from the United States and Switzerland. Bags were unloaded, the room orientation was given and then it was time for the Captains Briefing. Covering the basic layout of the ship, safety equipment and the weather for the week, Captain Zach finished his briefing and the guests were treated to a welcome BBQ dinner by Chef Christy. All of our guests turned in early tonight as the flights were long and they knew it was going to be a long 10 days of diving starting tomorrow.
Friday morning we woke up to start a day of wreck diving. Our check out dive was to be on the Hafa Adai wreck. This is an old communications boat that is sitting in approximately 35ft-60ft of water. A few slight adjustments were made to our guests gear and then it was off to the Helmet wreck for dive two. The guests were taken back by just how many depth charges remain on the wreck. Slowly moving from stern to bow numerous other artifacts were found including a gas mask and old Saki bottles. We took a nice break after dive two which allowed for a brief nap and then it was off to Lighthouse Channel for our third dive of the day. A quick skiff ride brought us to the southern edge of Malakal Harbor and we dropped in. Lighthouse channel usually brings some of the pelagic creatures in and today was no different. A few big Barracuda were spotted as well as two Eagle Rays. The last dive of the day was on the Iro. This is one of the biggest wrecks in all of Palau. Sitting on the bottom between 40 and 140ft the Iro stretches approximately 480ft. This ship could easily support multiple dive groups for the better part of a day. With the group sticking close together as to not get separated they were able to see the numerous hard corals growing on the ship’s deck and a juvenile turtle came by to greet them upon their ascent.
Last night during dinner service the Captain moved the ship from Malakal Harbor over to Ulong Island. It was a gorgeous night to travel as the clouds dissipated and the stars were shining. Our groups woke up to a beautiful sunrise and were ready for their first day of diving on the outer reef. We started the day off at Siaes Corner. This corner dive is home to variety of marine animals. Multiple Grey Reef sharks were seen gliding out in the blue and a few juvenile White Tip Reef sharks darted their way in and out of the group. Just before the hook in site one can find Pygmy Seahorses on a certain sea fan. The divers were able to hook in as a mild outgoing current gently picked them up off the reef top. Dive two was at Ulong Channel. With the current switching to incoming we dropped in just outside the mouth of the channel and made our way to the hook in site. The sharks were here in force as well and slowly moved back and forth with the current. After spending some time hooked in we began our drift down the channel. Hundreds of Groupers were spotted scurrying along the bottom as we drifted over the beautiful coral garden. We made our way down to the Lettuce Coral patch and swam right through a school of slow moving Big Eyes. Just over a few coral heads and across the channel we ran into two Giant Clams. Easily 100 years old each these clams weigh upwards of 500 lbs each! Dive three today was on Siaes Tunnel. We dropped in to about 90 feet and made our way into the tunnel entrance. A big school of Jacks were there to welcome us. Inside the tunnel we saw Dartfish and a few Disco Clams. Upon exiting we slowly moved down the wall and spotted a couple of juvenile turtles having a meal and some beautiful Sea Anemones that were swaying in the current. The last dive of the day was on Sandy Paradise. This site is absolutely stunning. Sleeping sharks were seen laying in the sand upon our entry into the water. We made our way down the coral garden and moved along the edge of the sandy bottom. Numerous coral heads hide and abundance of life. One coral head in particular plays host to four Leaf Scorpionfish. Three of these fish are a yellowish green color while the last has a pinkish tint to him. Schools of Barracuda slowly circle around just above head as we searched through the garden for small critters. Nudibranchs can be found all over this site as well as Lionfish and Octopus for the diver with the keen eye.
Spending the night moored just outside of Ulong Island we all awoke in the morning to a beautiful sunrise. While it was a bit choppy on the outer reef we still managed to get out to Shark City for our first dive. This site is the western most corner on the outer reef and can bring big currents and pelagic life. Our group descended and immediately began to swim alongside a few Grey Reef sharks. Our video pro, Dan, was in front of the pack and was led right into two Eagle Rays. Schools of snapper and jacks circled just off the plateau edge while a few turtles were seen slowly moving from coral head to coral head looking for a bite to eat. The second dive brought us back to Sandy Paradise. Every loves this site as the visibility and variety are almost unmatched. The colorful coral garden was explored in depth and all types of critters were found. Underneath one coral head a Mantis Shrimp was spotted in the sand awaiting his next meal. A quick stop was made at a cleaning station. If you move slow enough and put your hand out the cleaner wrasse will come up and circle your hand picking away anything they can. All of the guests enjoyed Ulong Channel so we decided to return there for the third dive. A mild current was present and we were able to slowly glide back and forth in the channel. The divemaster, Joe even took off his fins and had a bit of a jog down a portion of the channel. The Lettuce Coral really popped in the mid afternoon light and our photo pro Hector was able to get some great shots with the guests as they swam by. The last dive for today brought us to the Ulong Coral Garden. This is situated a bit north of the channel and is more of a juvenile marine life sanctuary. Schools of young Black Tips move about in the shallows while the Titan Triggerfish remain stationary in the shallows guarding their nest. Immediately following this dive we fired up the big boat and made our way down to German Channel. It was an absolutely amazing night with not a cloud in the sky.
After moving the boat during the night the guests woke up just inside German Channel. The seas were calm and we had a quick ride out to our first dive which was on Blue Corner. A decent outgoing current allowed us to stay hooked in for the majority of the dive. Our friends the Napoleon Wrasse showed up and posed for a few photos. The Grey Reef Sharks were swooping back and forth in the current and a few turtles stopped by to say hello. The second dive of the day was in the Blue Holes. The holes were lit up perfectly as the morning sunshine was glaring through the water. After exploring the cavern for just a bit we started to move outside and along the wall. Just outside the cavern there is a pinkish sea fan that sits at about 90ft. Our dive master Dan was able to point out a few Pygmy Seahorses to our guests. We drifted along the wall in the current observing the schooling Black Lip Snappers and Red Toothed Triggerfish. New Drop Off was our third dive of the day. This site is similar to Blue Corner just a bit smaller in size. After hooking in for just a bit we were able to explore the plateau and saw numerous Nudibranchs and a very well camouflaged Crocodilefish. The fourth dive of the day was at the highly anticipated German Channel. We dropped in and spent some time taking photos of the red Sea Anemone before moving towards the cleaning station. As we approached the cleaning station our dive masters noticed a few shadows up towards the surface. The group made their way up the water column and were able to see three Manta Rays feeding! There was also a massive bait ball which was doing its best to dance around as the reef sharks darted in and out. The last dive of the day was at the German Coral Garden. The bioluminescence was extra heavy and lit up the night time water. A few free swimming Moray Eels were spotted along with a couple juvenile Lionfish.
We spent the night inside German Channel and decided that we should do Blue Corner once again for our first dive of the day. We dropped in and immediately swam across the plateau to find a good hook in spot and watch the show. A nice out going current that slowly picked up throughout the dive brought plenty of action for us. Grey Reef Sharks were swarming around. A massive school of Chevron Barracuda appeared to be sitting motionless just behind us. The Napoleon Wrasse floated in between the divers at a very close range, making for some great photos. After a quick snack we loaded the skiff back up and headed out to Virgin Blue Hole for our second dive of the day. This chimney starts atop the reef in 5 feet of water and a single shaft descends down to approximately 100 feet. You then slowly make your way through the cavern and exit onto the wall before floating gently with the current. Moving along the wall we saw multiple Nudibranchs and a Crocodile fish sitting ever so still on a rocky bottom. Dive three today was on Barnums Wall. Approaching the site we quickly realized how clear the water was here. Visibility for this dive was 150ft +. Gliding down the sloping wall with the current we move in, out and around the multiple coral heads in search of some hidden creatures. After spending some time enjoying the beauty of the site we stumbled upon a most friendly Green turtle and swam alongside him for the remainder of the dive. As it was so good yesterday we decided to go back to German Channel for our fourth dive today. The site did not let us down, in fact it was better than our first go around. Swimming towards the cleaning station from the Peleliu side of the site we saw the Mantas feeding again. As we approached we realized they were moving in a train formation and there were 5 of them!!! There was also a massive bait ball spinning around towards the surface that kept the sharks and Trevally busy for the duration of the dive. Once back on board we moved the big boat down to Peleliu and did our night dive on Orange Beach. A multitude of shrimps and crabs were spotted darting across the sea floor or dancing amongst the corals. A few free swimming Moray Eels were spotted out on the hunt and we followed them for just a bit to see if they were able to find some dinner.
Wednesday morning we started our day off on the Peleliu Cut. An outgoing current brought us down the wall to our hook in spot. A school of Black Snapper was circling just on the lip of the wall while a couple of Groupers were sitting atop of the plateau. We stayed hooked in for a bit and then slowly drifted across the plateau to do some exploring. After returning from our dive the group quickly changed and they were picked up on the dock for their Peleliu land tour. The tour consisted of a few stops at memorials for both the Japanese and American soldier’s, a couple of stops at the former front lines of Orange Beach and Bloody Nose Ridge and a stopover at the museum. Along the way you could see evidence of the war in the form of gun fortifications and old tanks. The last stop of the tour was at the 1000 Man Cave. This is where the Japanese made one of their final stands in a maze of underground tunnels and caves. After returning to the boat and having some lunch we geared up for dive number three and headed to Barracks Point. This site is home to a few Giant Clams that always entertain the guests. Upon dropping in a moderate current swept us up and moved us down the wall quickly towards the plateau. We were able to spend just a bit of time with the clams before continuing on to search for more marine life. A multitude of turtles were seen on this site as well as a Dog Tooth Tuna. Dive four was on West Wall. Just up from Peleliu Cut this wall dive usually plays host to the juvenile White Tip Reef sharks. Sure enough once we dropped down to our cruising depth we spotted quite a few sharks drifting back and forth in the current. Another Dog Tooth Tuna was spotted on this site as well as a few small critters hidden amongst the corals. Our evening dive brought us back to Orange Beach. The best spot tonight was the Catfish Eel hiding just under a clam shell. Usually this fish is found in big schools in order to protect himself but obviously he lost his buddies. A few crabs were spotted scurrying across the bottom but the highlight of the dive was the bioluminescence. Turning off your flashlight under water reveals one of the natural wonders of diving. These tiny creatures light up when disturbed and shine in a brilliant green color that make a trail as you move through the water.
Thursday morning we decided to go back to Orange Beach so we could see it in the daylight and hunt for some artifacts. There are a few broken up landing crafts that sit in the shallows which make for great pictures as well as piles of old ammunition. If you are really lucky and have a keen eye you can find old Coca-Cola bottles. Dive two today was on North Point. This site is just up from Barracks Point and is usually filled with turtles and the occasional Eagle Ray cruising by in the blue. We enjoyed the relaxing wall dive and then made our way back up towards Ngemelis Island. The afternoon dives were on Ferns Wall and Turtle Cove. Both of these sites are wall dives and they are two of the best hard and soft coral dives in Palau. Sea Fans and Sea Anemones also fill the walls on these sites and you are able to hunt for Pygmy Seahorses and Harlequin Shrimp. The night dive brought us back to Turtle Cove as all of the soft corals open up to feed at night and the colors are spectacular. As we moved our flashlight around the wall you could see small red eyes beaming back at you, these were the hundreds of shrimp out looking for their nightly snack.
As the Ngemelis Island area has been treating the guests so good they decided to stay here for their final day of diving. We started off back at Blue Corner to see the big schools of fish and the Napoleon Wrasse. Again the current wasn’t to heavy so we were able to hook in for just awhile and then we explored the plateau afterwards. The second dive brought us to Dexters Wall. The site is partially a shear wall and partially a slope, depends on which way you go. We dropped in and slowly made our way down the wall. A few Nudibranchs were spotted as we searched in and out of the cuts in the wall. Towards the middle of the dive it seemed as if we ran right into a colony of turtles. We saw numerous Green and Hawksbill turtles moving along the wall looking for something to eat. Fern’s Wall was dive three today. A very gentle current carried the guests along the wall as we snapped photos. A few Chevron Barracuda darted overhead as we took in the sights. Fern’s Wall has amazing corals and the guests were extremely pleased with the color variety. We extended our bottom time just a bit on this one as the soft corals were just so amazing. The last dive of the day was back at German Channel. Once again the Manta Rays showed up to feed. We have been extremely lucky this week and have been able to see them feeding every time we have been at this site. The sharks were out feeding as well and from the surface you could see the dorsal fins slicing through the water as they chased their prey. The channel itself is beautiful and full of coral to explore and after we had our fill of the pelagic life we drifted through the coral garden. The guests were treated to their final dinner tonight which was a delectable Pistachio crusted Mahi Mahi that Chef Christy prepared and then our Video Pro Dan presented his video of the week to the group.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early and made our way over to Jellyfish Lake. Millions of Jellyfish swarm around the guests as they swim further out from the dock. This place is amazing every single time we go. We spent about 45 minutes with the Jellyfish and then slowly moved along the outskirts of the lake to see the Mangroves and the anemones that feed on the jellies. Joe took the group on a nice Rock Island tour after the lake, slowly making their way back to the dock via the gorgeous channels and inlets. Once back on the big boat the guests quickly changed into their wetsuits and it was back out on the skiff for the dive in the Chandelier Caves. The cavern is a 4 chamber system with stalactites hanging down making for quite a dramatic feel as you move further in. We spent around 20 minutes in the cave and then explored the outside were we came across a few Mandarin Fish. This evening we hosted our cocktail party for the guests. We all shared a few drinks and told stories of old dive adventures. As we started to wind down Hector put on his slideshow of the week and we then presented the guests with awards that were earned. All were very delighted as they made their way next door for their final dinner on Palau.
Sunday morning and we helped the guests load up their luggage into the bus before saying our final goodbyes. We had a great time this week and shared many laughs with this group. We wish everyone well and hope to see them again soon.