Log Date: Sunday, Oct 04, 2015
Entry By: Palau Aggressor Crew
Palau Aggressor Charter October 4-11, 2015
Water Temp: 79-84 deg F
Air Temp: 78-86 deg F
Crew: Zach, Hector, Ernan, Ronnie, Ripon and Herence
Welcome Aboard!! Joining us for a week of diving are nine guests from the U.S.A., Germany, Israel and Spain. The crew welcomed all the guests onboard and walked them through their rooms to get oriented. We then set up all the dive equipment and met upstairs in the salon for the Captains Briefing. The Captain explained the weather conditions for the week and what we planned on doing. After all the guests had their questions answered we moved to the dining tables and enjoyed a BBQ dinner prepared by Chef Ronnie. During dinner the big boat got off the dock and headed just outside the marina to a mooring next to our early morning dive.
Monday morning the guests were up early as the anticipation for our first dive was building. Directly following breakfast all the guests met back in the salon for the dive deck briefing. Once finished it was game time! All the guests quickly moved downstairs, set up their equipment and analyzed the tanks before being briefed on the mornings dive. Monday was to be mostly wrecks. We started off on the Helmet Wreck. A few different critters were spotted moving along the wreckage including a Flabelina and a Saw Blade Shrimp. The highlight of the dive had to be the numerous artifacts that scatter the wreck and sea floor. Everything from old rifles to small morphine bottles can be found. Dive two was in Lighthouse Channel. An incoming tide whipped us down the channel with ease. Along the way one of the guests spotted an all black Crocodile fish! This was a great find. A bit further down we spotted our first shark, a Grey Reef Shark. On the way back to the big boat we spotted 3 Manta Rays feeding! We moved the skiff in front of them and quickly slid into the water to take some photos. Very lucky for us to see these on the first day, and close to the harbor!! Our third dive of the day was on the Choyu Maru. This is a deeper wreck and a good one. Covered in hard corals and Black Lip Oysters this wreck has plenty to look through. Our final dive of the day was on the Hafa Adai wreck. This is an old communications boat that is home to many types of Nudibranchs and juvenile Box fish. We finished off our dive for the day and moved the big boat to Wonder Channel for the evening.
Tuesday morning we started our diving on Neco Wall. A short boat ride away from our mooring this site is home to Palau’s largest Sea fan. Stretching approximately 10 feet across this yellow fan is a sight to see. Our second dive was in Wonder Channel. This is the most famous dive in the Mercharar area, the site did not let us down today. We saw tons of life swimming about. A Grey Reef Shark was our first encounter followed closely by a Spanish Mackerel, and octopus and a few brightly colored Nudibranchs. During this dive the big boat moved towards the German Channel area. The guests were quite hungry after this second dive and we were happy to find out it was ‘Taco Tuesday’! Probably eating more than we should have most of the guests took a quick nap before heading out to our third dive, Barnums Wall. The swell was still moderate so we dropped in a bit off the reef and slowly made our way down the wall. Close to 100 foot visibility allowed us to enjoy the spectacular corals that line this site from end to end. The fourth dive of the day was Big Drop Off. This site is how to some of the most colorful soft corals in Palau. With a very mild current we dropped in and slowly made our way along the way. A few small Nudibranchs were spotted but the highlight of the dive was a Green Turtle who quite enjoyed having his photo taken. The group moved within feet of this turtle and one by one we all were able to get a fantastic photo. The night dive was on German Coral Garden. This is one of our favorite sites for night dives as there is plenty to be on the look-out for. Groupers were darting back and forth with our light trying to catch an easy meal. A few very colorful flatworms were seen dancing in the light current as they moved from coral head to coral head. The best part about the dive was the bioluminescence that sparkles as we move through the water.
We decided to try our luck today on Blue Corner. The wind felt similar to yesterday but was manageable. Once we dropped in we slowly made our way down to the hook in spot. Our friend the Napoleon Wrasse met us on the wall and we were able to get a few photos with him before hooking in. We arrived at the cut in the reef and all the guests hooked in and looked on at the sharks that were gliding in the current. Not long after we hooked in the current really picked up. We stayed for just a moment longer and then unhooked and floated across the plateau. It seemed as if the current kept gaining speed and before we knew it we were off the edge and on the way back to the surface. It was a wild ride indeed. Our second dive was much more tranquil. We went to German Channel to explore one of the healthiest sites in the area. We dropped in and made our way to the red Sea Anemone first. After a few photos we went just a touch deeper and made our way to the sandy cleaning station. We were greeted by two Cow Tail Stingrays not long after we arrived at the cleaning station. One of them was sitting motionless in the sand while the other was cruising along the edge of the coral. We explored the outside of the channel for just a few minutes and then slowly made our way through the coral maze. A Guinea Fowl Puffer joined us for a few minutes and a juvenile Hawksbill tagged along for awhile as well. The guests got quite a kick out of all the sleeping White Tip Reef Sharks laying along the sandy bottom. Dive three today was on Turtle Cove. This site is also very good for the soft coral lover. Extremely colorful and full of life this site never fails us. A massive sting ray was seen as soon as the guests jumped in. This was a good way to start. We made our way down the wall taking photos of all the fans and whip corals hanging off the wall. Big schools of Black Lip Snapper and Fusiliers like to hang out in the cuts where the current comes up. We were able to get some video of these schools swirling about above and below us as we moved along the wall. With a moderate incoming current we made it around Turtle Cove and we were on our way to Barnums Wall when we surfaced! Ferns wall was dive four today. Another great site for soft corals, Ferns Wall is an extremely colorful dive site. Sea Anemones are plentiful here and make for great photos. A few turtles were spotted as well as a juvenile Grey Reef Shark swimming off in the distance. The night dive this evening was on the Koror side of German Channel. We dropped in and there was a moderate outgoing current. We slowly zig zagged our way across the channel looking for critters out for their midnight snack. Tucked underneath one coral head we found a Disco Clam. Just a bit further and we found a coral head that had at least 20 Red Tooth Triggerfish sleeping in it. About half way through the dive we turned around and drifted back towards the mooring with the current. This turned out to be a nice and relaxing night dive.
The guests we interested in a bit of history so today we made our way to Peleliu’s north dock during breakfast. Around 0715 we loaded up all the guests and dropped them off on island where they were met by a few locals who would guide them around the island. The guests were able to visit historic battle grounds as well as the museum where there are numerous artifacts such as an old torpedo, machine guns, flags and uniforms. After three hours of exploring we picked everyone up and made our way back towards the German Channel area for lunch. After eating we decided to try our hand at Blue Corner once again. We were about half way there when the swell really picked up and we had to turn around and pick a different dive site. Alice’s Coral Garden turned out to be our dive and it was a good pick indeed. Multiple turtles were lounging around having a bite to eat. They allowed us to get extremely close and take a couple of photos. We also ran into a 2m/6ft Nurse Shark that was having a nap. Another very docile animal, we were able to get right next to the shark before he decided to wake up and make his way to another part of the reef. Our second dive of the day was on Ngemelis Wall. A few stingrays were floating by out in the blue and there were plenty of Nudibranchs to keep us busy along the wall. We even spotted one which is nicknamed the Norse God. Dive four today was a dusk dive on German Wall. We got to the site just as the remaining light of the day was dropping below the horizon. Slowly moving along the wall we saw a few crabs nestled into a tight spot as well as a large number of shrimp. After this dive we moved over to the Wonder Channel area and did one more dive in Clam City. A swift outgoing current carried the divers down the wall with ease. A few more Nudibranchs were seen and the bioluminescence was extremely heavy tonight. You could turn your flashlight off and let the movement of the other divers fins guide your way.
The Captain started up the boat this morning around 0445 and started making his way towards Ulong Island. The weather seemed to have calmed down and it was a smooth ride. The first dive of the day was to be on Siaes Corner. The current was running and we were able to hook in on the plateau. The resident Grey Reef sharks were swarming and made for some great footage. Our second dive of the day was on Sandy Paradise. Upon entering the water we came across an Octopus. Tucked neatly into a crack in the coral head the octopus sat motionless as we took a few photos. A bit further down the reef we were looking in a coral head for Nudibranchs and out of the corner of our eye we see a Manta swimming by. The Manta cruised by us and then started circling a coral head nearby, obviously his cleaning station. We were able to sit in the sand and watch the Manta gracefully swimming for about 20 minutes. After the Manta took off we moved a bit further into the coral garden and came across two Leaf Scorpion Fish. Both were a greenish yellow color and were slowly swaying back and forth in the current. We explored a bit longer taking photos of the schools of Barracuda and Solider fish before surfacing. Ulong Channel was our first afternoon dive. With a nice incoming current we hooked in and relaxed. The Grey Reef sharks came within feet of the guests as they effortlessly glided in front of the mouth of the channel. After about 20 minutes we unhooked and moved down the channel. It was great to just be able to sit back and glide with the current. A few guests even took off their fins and were ‘running’ down the sandy part of the channel. We got some great photos of the massive Lettuce Leaf coral patch and then ended our dive next to the Giant Clams. The last dive of the day was close to Ulong Channel on a site called the Ulong Coral Garden. Another great dive that can be both deep if you go off the wall or shallow if you sit on top. Atop the plateau is our favorite spot as it acts as a nursery for juvenile sharks and fish. One can always see the young Grey Reef sharks, Triggerfish and Barracuda amongst the shallow coral garden. After a full day of diving our guests enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving style dinner prepared by Chef Ronnie and then enjoyed the video put together by our Divemaster Ernan.
Saturday morning and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. We dropped the skiff around 0700 and headed for Jellyfish Lake. The guests were the first ones in the lake and we made our way towards the center where the majority of the Jellyfish were. Millions of these stingless Jellyfish surrounded us within minutes and it was quite overwhelming for the guests. It’s like being on another planet. We spent about an hour in the lake before we boarded the skiff and went on a tour of the Rock Islands. We made it back to the big boat around 1000 and quickly changed before going for a dive in the Chandelier Caves. This local site is quite dramatic as well. Dropping in under a small overhang the light quickly fades and you are swimming in the dark. We surfaced into the first air chamber and to see the massive stalactites hanging down towards us. The subsequent chambers are similar but the best part was the swim back out. Some of us turned off our flashlights and were guided out of the came by the little bit of sunlight that could penetrate into the cave. After being shuttled back to the big boat we had a delicious lunch and then it was free time. Many of the guests went for a pampering session at the local spa while others caught up on a bit of sleep. We all met back in the salon around 1800 and shared a few drinks while talking about the diving this week.
We are sad to say it but all good things must come to an end. The bus pulled up to the boat this morning and we helped load all of the luggage and guests aboard for the transfers. Some are here for a few more days while others are straight back home and to work. We had a great week with our guests and hope they can make it back again soon.