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Aggressor Adventure Travel
Palau Aggressor II :

 

Log Date: Sunday, Feb 26, 2017
Entry By: Palau Aggressor Crew









 



Our week started with a nice, easy checkout dive on the Helmet Wreck, so named due to the collection of WWII Japanese helmets found on the vessel. As usual, the helmets were found hanging out in the same place as the previous charter. Not too far away was a lazy little crocodile fish chilling on the deck. Our next dive was another WWII wreck, the Iro, a bit deeper, larger, and more photogenic. The viz was excellent for a dive inside the reef. The large guns on the bow and stern were popular with the photographers. The massive collection of anemones and every present anemone fish to be found on the top of the kingpost near the stern received a lot of attention as well. Another unique feature is the large tridacna clams that live in amongst the anemones. All that colorful life and activity in such a small area and in such shallow water makes for great photos and videos with the sunshine streaming down to make it really pop. And that is just the second dive of the week. Sandy paradise was our third dive and it was a bit of a paradise for manta lovers. As soon as we hit the sandy bottom we were met with a manta circling a cleaning station, which it continued to do for more than 10 minutes while we all sat in the sand and burned through the MBs on our memory cards. After it finished its cleaning session it cruised off into the blue and we cruised on down the reef. Another crocodilefish was discovered lying next to a huge moray getting its teeth cleaned. Two cute little leaf scorpionfish were photographed almost as much as the manta. Dive four began along the wall at Ulong Gardens but as the current picked up unexpectedly we found ourselves being transferred to Ulong Channel where we zipped down the world famous channel. Hundred year old Giant Tridacna clams, a multitude of schooling fish, and a wall of lettuce coral were a few of the many highlights of our flight down the channel.

 

Day two opened with a dive into Ulong Channel again…and right back out. The current switched on us so we carried on down the wall and had a lovely little dive drifting past VW beetle size chunks of hard coral. A substantial school of barracuda was eagerly photographed and the occasional reef shark popped by to see how we were doing. Next up was a trip into Siaes Tunnel. A massive tunnel/cave that several rare critters call home. The colorfully cute decorated dartfish and Helfrich dartfish are found, dare I say it, darting around the sandy bottom with the rare black and white butterflyfish on the ceiling of the cave along with the equally rare blueback pygmy angel. But probably the rarest sighting of the week was a poison occelate octopus found by one of our guest, Linda. Dive three at Barnums Wall turned up a medium-sized cuttle fish and five turtles. Our dive at German Channel had nine mantas. Really nothing else to say other than “Nine Mantas!”

Third day of the charter found us at the island of Pelelui and on the dive called “The Pelelui Express” and it was just that…..and express dive. Screaming current. After a quick ride down the wall we hooked in for a bit to check out the shark action and then off to the races again as we zipped across the plateau and out into the blue. After the intense action underwater we headed ashore for a land tour to see where some intense action occurred during WWII. The land tour covers most of the islands highlights with a stop at the highest point for a view that encompasses the whole island. After a fulfilling, tasty lunch by Chef Ronny we headed to Orange Beach to check out some of the best hard coral action in Palau and search for remnants of the battle that took place here so many years ago. Barracks point was next up with some equally impressive hard coral with the added bonus of a cuttlefish and few turtles ambling about the reef. Our night dive at Ngedebus Coral Garden was nonstop one cool critter after the other. A Scorpionfish, pregnant lobster out roaming around, free-swimming banded moray, a gaggle of nudibranchs, and on and on it went til we made our way back to the boat for some dessert and a few adult beverages to end the day.

The World Famous Blue Corner started our fourth day of diving. A screaming current carried us down to the corner where we hooked in and watched a river of red-toothed triggerfish. Darting in and out of the flow were white tip and reef sharks with a few Napoleon Wrasse. As we drifted across the plateau and out into the blue we cruised through a large school of barracuda and a huge Spanish mackerel. Our next dive, another corner, Ngedebus Corner was an easy drift down a soft coral covered wall and around the point and up to the top of the wall where we met a turtle nibbling on some coral. Canyons dive site has some of the most unique topography of any of our dive sites. Tunnels, overhangs, and little caves which are perfect for poking around with a flashlight in search of nubibranchs and shrimp. Our second trip to German Channel was a bit anticlimactic compared to the first but two mantas are always better than none. On the way to the cleaning station we happened across an octopus and a sleeping nurse shark. Once at the cleaning station we had a manta make a fly by and then another one showed up and circled very closely for around 25 minutes or so. Not a bad way to end the day.

 

Our second trip to Blue Corner had a nice current and even more sharks than the previous day. After watching the sharks put on a show we drifted across the plateau again to find a few turtles and the school of barracuda…again…with the added bonus of having two eagle rays swimming around in the school. Next up was Blue Holes for a look around the massive cavern for some disco clams. After our egress we drifted down the wall to Blue Corner and more or less repeated previous dive. Our third dive at New Drop Off had a mild current so after a brief hook in we drifted across the huge plateau where we found some cute little fire dartfish and some industrious little rockmover wrasse…moving rocks. Moving on to our last dive of the day, Big Drop Off where we drifted past bushy corals and soft coral as far as the eye could see down the reef. A few little longnosed hawkfish were found in the bushes. And squarespot anthias schooling all up and down the wall. And then day faded to dusk and we made our way back to the Palau Aggressor II where we had another yummy, enormous meal prepared by our Chef Ronny followed by our video of the week prepared by Ernan.

Our last day of the charter began with a trip around the Rock Islands with stops at the Japanese Zero plane wreck, a mud bath at the Milky Way, and a photo shoot at the famous Palau Arch followed by our final dive at Chandalier Caves. After checking out the stalagtites we came out and poked around in the rubble until we found the very popular and very cute mandarinfish as well as some cute little pajama cardinalfish.

Our trip was wrapped up with a cocktail party and our weekly slideshow from Captain Dan.