Trip Report August 20-27
Air Temp: 29-32 deg c
Crew: Dan, Hector, Ernan, Joe, Herence, Shea, Ronnie.
On Sunday afternoon 16 new guests from around the World were welcomed aboard the Palau Aggressor II. After a brief orientation the guests and crew set up all the dive and photography equipment, before heading into the dining room for a delicious dinner prepared by the Chef. After dinner the guests were given a thorough vessel safety briefing from the Captain, before heading to bed to recharge for the first day of diving tomorrow.
Monday morning after breakfast the first dive was at the Helmet Wreck, a casualty of WWII. This wreck is covered in artifacts from when it was still top side in 1944, and now plays host to some cool critters like Saw Blade Shrimp, Crocodile fish and Stone fish. Located close to the harbor, conditions on the wreck were mellow, which made it an ideal check out dive. The second dive was on the Iro, another of Palau’s many WWII wrecks, this is actually one of the largest. Another dive to help get acclimated and dust of any cobwebs, divers on the Iro can found an Octopus and the large king post at the stern covered in Tomato and Dusky anemones. After lunch and our first reef dive was at Ngerechong outside, which is a nice drift from the outer reef into a channel. There was a wall of fusiliers from the start of the site to the end, Schooling Jacks and Barracuda and more than a dozen Grey Reef Sharks. The Final dive was at German Channel, we saw our first Manta at the cleaning station, but it didn’t stay long. There was lots of Plankton so we swam out against the current into the blue looking for feeding Manta. The current was strong, and after a brief glimpse of a couple of juveniles, we decided to turn around and take it easy whilst exploring the beautiful channel instead.
After breakfast on Tuesday, we went to the World famous Blue Corner, and our first hook in dive of the week. Good action with Sharks, Barracuda, Trevally and the resident Napoleon Wrasse, made a fun show. Next dive was at Blue Holes with the Disco Clams and a Pygmy Seahorse, followed by a mellow drift along the wall down to Blue Corner. Lots of Turtles were found on the third dive at Barnums Wall, and we enjoyed the beautiful soft corals along the Wall at Turtle cove on number four.
On Wednesday we went to Peleliu and started the day off with a dive at Purple beach, a beautiful wall with some very large sea fans down around 30 meters. We saw many Turtles as we were carried along in the current. Most of the group opted to go on the Peleliu land tour, to take in some of the history of the Island, whilst the rest went for a dive at West Wall, and found some Porcelain Crabs hiding in an Anemone, and several Sharks out in the blue. After lunch we dived at Orange Beach and then Barracks Point, and ended the day with a night dive at Ngedebus Coral Garden.
We went back to Blue Corner on Thursday morning for another exhilarating show of Sharks and schooling barracudas, Jacks and of course the Napoleon Wrasse who bumps your fins if you don’t pay it enough attention. Next was New drop off which is a similar site to Blue Corner. There were several accommodating Turtles on the plateau posing for photos. After lunch we explored the swim throughs at Canyons, and then went back to German Channel to look for Mantas, this time were lucky enough to see three Mantas at the cleaning station, before heading down the channel.
During the early morning on Friday, we moved up to the Ulong area for our last full day of diving. Starting out with a fun drift down the beautiful Ulong Channel, checking out the lettuce corals and Giant Clams along the way. Then we went to Siaes Tunnel to hunt for the unique critters that live inside, we found the Blue Back Pygmy Angelfish and some decorated Dart fish. After lunch we went to Sandy Paradise and found some Leaf Scorpion fish and Mantis Shrimp. After a second dive at Ulong Channel, we made our way back up to Malakal Harbor, whilst watching this week’s movie.
Chandelier Caves was our first dive on Saturday where we explored the caves and chambers, and then found some Mandarin fish hiding amongst the coral just out the front. We then went to the Jake Sea Plane to get a unique opportunity to photograph a WWII plane wreck. The rest of Saturday was spent cleaning, drying and packing gear, relaxing and filling out log books. And then at six o’clock we gathered back in the Salon for the cocktail party and a look at the Photos from the week, before heading out to dinner in one of Palau’s fine restaurants.
At 8 o’clock on Sunday it was time to say goodbye to our new dive buddies. It’s been a fun filled week on the Palau Aggressor II, with lots of cool creature encounters, especially the consistent Manta sightings, which we hope is an indication of an early start to the season!
We hope to see you soon, safe travels, and keep blowing Bubbles!