Palau Aggressor II Boat Report
Feb 21-28, 2016
2nd Capt/Photo Pro: Scott
Video pro/Divemaster: Ernan
This week we had a group of 18 Americans who boarded the vessel on the afternoon of Feb. 21. After checking in and getting equipment set up, the group sat down to the Captains briefing and a delicious welcome aboard meal prepared by Chef Ronnie.
After conferring with the group leaders we decided to start our first day at Ulong Island and dove Ulong Coral Garden, Sandy Paradise, Siaes Corner and Ulong Channel. For these dives we had a light current, 78-81 degree water and 60-80 feet of visibility. Highlight were, thread fin jacks, schools of barracuda, leaf fish, mantas shrimp, 2 large octopus, cuttlefish, napoleon wrasses, schools of glass eye solder fish and an abundance of pristine hard corals throughout all the dives. At dinner that night the group agreed it was an excellent day of diving and a greater start to the week.
Day 2 started us at Blue Corner where the current was moderate and the action was outstanding. Here the group hooked in and the grey reef sharks showed up in bunches. After a few minutes there were just too many to count and we also saw a huge school of jacks along with barracuda. After about 35 minutes, we unhooked and drifted across the plateau where the reef fish are colorful and abundant. The next dive took us to legendary Blue Holes where we saw the flame scallop, pigmy sea horse, several grey and white tip reef sharks, anemones along with their resident fish. Dive 3 and 4 were at Ferns Wall and German Channel. Ferns Wall is a steep drop off with an abundance of soft corals, sea fans and schooling fusiliers along with large groups of pyramid butterfly fish. We also saw some grey and white tip sharks and schools of flame dart fish. We dove German Channel in hopes of seeing manta rays but only one was home and it was a fleeting glance by part of the group. However, the rest of the dive was quite nice and highlights included schooling jacks and barracuda, shark sightings by several in the group, schooling glass eye solder fish, garden eels and several gobies with blind shrimp.
Day 3 started at Turtle Cove where we experience around 70 foot visibility and 81 degree water along with a light current which brought out the abundant colorful soft corals which grow along this wall. Highlights where the schooling sea bass, grey reef sharks, turtles, schools of snappers, large scale soldier fish, sweet lips and a great number of square spot anthies along the wall. The next three dives were at Orange Beach and West Wall. These dives produced the best visibility so far which was well over 100 feet. Highlights included a Leopard Shark, two eagle rays, mating octopi and groupers and large schools of snappers, big scale soldier fish, surgeon fish, Moorish idols and sweet lips. It appears it is mating season for a variety of these species so the schooling numbers are higher than normal.
Day 4 started at Purple Wall which is a steep drop-off which melts into a vast coral garden. On this dive we had a mild current, visibility beyond 100 feet and water temperature of 81 degrees. Here the wall is loaded with multihued soft corals and large sea fans. We saw a number of grey reef sharks, schools of fusiliers and pyramid butterfly fish along with several turtles, red tooth trigger fish a school of barracuda, some rainbow runners, a couple of barred jacks and a variety of anemone fish. Dive 2 was at Barracks Point which again had outstanding visibility and a mild current. On this dive we saw giant clams, a variety of angel fish, Moorish idols, turtles, sweet lips and a school of barracuda along with mating octopi. For dive 3 we ventured to New Drop-Off where the current was moderate to strong. Here we hooked in and enjoyed the sharks swirling in the current along with the red tooth trigger fish, fusiliers and pyramid butterfly fish. After unhooking we enjoyed the south side of the wall where there were several feeding turtles who allowed us to approach them closely. Dive 4 was at German Channel where we were hoping to see manta rays and did. Though they didn’t stay around long, the group did see a couple at the cleaning station. After that they explored the coral garden and finished with a drift down the channel.
Day 5 which is the last day of diving on this cruise due to the groups Saturday evening flight schedule had us back at Blue Corner. Here the current was mild but the fish action was still very good. We saw a lot of both grey and white tip reef sharks, napoleon wrasses, schools of jacks and barracuda and an octopus. Canyons was the site of dive 2 where the visibility was around 60 feet and there was an upwelling which brought the water temperature down to 76-78 degrees. This site is mostly a hard coral site and we saw a great variety of wrasses, butterfly fish, angel fish, dart fish, trumpet and cornet fish a several turtles. The 3rd dive had us on the Helmet Wreck where the visibility for this site was better than normal and about 50 feet. Being in the lagoon and close to the harbor the water temperature was a comfortable 82 degrees. This WWII wreck is full of depth charges and lots of other artifacts such as a rifle, gas mask, bowls, sinks parts and lots of sake bottles. There are also 3 zero plan engines in the forward hold. We also saw a large crocodile fish and a couple of nudibranchs. For our 4th and final dive we went to Chandelier Cave and checked out the stalactites in each of the three air chambers and also got a very good mandarin fish courting show.
For the final day the group went to Jellyfish Lake to snorkel with the millions of jellyfish found in this unique location. We then did a tour of the rock islands and came back to the boat at mid-day.
As usual we wrapped up the week with a cocktail party and traded stories and watched Scott’s slide show.
We at the Palau Aggressor would like to thank all the guest and hope to see all of you again in the future.