Palau Aggressor 2 Charter Jan 18th – 25th
Water Temp: 82-86 deg F
Air Temp: 78-86 deg F
Crew: Scott, Hector, Cameron, Joe, Zach, Editha and Alan
Welcome Aboard! Joining us for a week of great diving will be 15 guests from around the world. Our returning guests and first time Aggressor patrons alike all share a common thread, their excitement to get in the water and explore Palaus great dive sites. After setting up their dive gear and settling in to their cabins the guest joined us for dinner and a Champagne toast before the Captains brief commenced. After all questions were answered the guests headed downstairs for some R & R in preparation for their first day in the water.
The sun was just coming up around 0600 Monday morning when we departed the marina and made our way to our first anchorage site just inside the Pinchers. Wreck diving would be on tap for this morning. The Teshio Maru and Chuyo Maru turned out to be great dives. A massive Mantis Shrimp was seen hiding in a small hole just off the bow. Hector, one of the dive guides was able to point out a few smaller shrimp on a bit of Bubble Coral which made for a great photo. Sea Anemones littered with Clown Fish were a plenty as well as our usual schools of Fusiliers. Making our way a bit south for the next two dives we picked up a mooring just East of Ngemelis Island. Dexters Wall and German Channel would round out our diving for the first day. Dexters Wall was loaded with creatures. Along the wall we spotted a Scorpion fish hanging out on a ledge and 2 small Nudibranchs. In the sand shoot there were 2 resting juvenile White Tip Reef sharks and a couple of turtles floating about. Once around the corner we spotted four Green Turtles, within feet of each other, having there afternoon snack. Just past this group we saw two largo Crocodile fish sitting side by side. German Channel was filled with schooling Fusiliers and Black Lip Snappers. A few Mantas were spotted swimming out in the blue and one made a pass over the cleaning station that the guests were huddled around. After dinner this evening the guests enjoyed a documentary on Peleliu Island in preparation for our trip down there on Wednesday.
Tuesday morning we moved over to a mooring just South of Carp Island. We would be here for the duration of the day. Blue Holes and the famed Blue Corner would be our a.m. dives. We descended into the Blue Holes and were greeted with a 70s revival. The Disco Clams were out flashing their lights and made for some great photos. With a mild current and great visibility we scooted along the wall observing the Grey Reef sharks hovering almost motion less just off the wall. Our friend the Napoleon Wrasse was waiting on us atop the plateau as per usual. A few juvenile White Tip Reef Sharks were also there catching their breath in the sandy patches. As soon as we dropped in on Blue Corner we were greeted by a passing Devil Ray. What a great way to start the dive. We proceeded up the wall and hooked in for awhile to watch as the sharks and schools of fish swam amongst us. Atop the plateau there was a sole octopus half way underneath a coral head. One of the less timid we have seen thus far. New Drop Off, our mini Blue Corner was alive as well. This site and Turtle Cove would be our afternoon dives. Both sites were teeming with marine life. The Grey Reef sharks were out in force on New Drop Off and Turtle Cove was a big hit with the guests. Although we dive this site often never before have so many of our shellback friends been on the wall at once. It was quite the spectacle. Once back on board we made our way to the big boat and sat down for a delicious dinner.
Delphinus had just crept over the horizon making room for the Southern Cross and Big Dipper. It was a beautiful clear sky when we came off the mooring and started heading south for Peleliu Island. Of course our first dive was to be Peleliu Corner. A drift and hook in dive that allows us to cover a lot of ground and then when needed we can stay in one area and observe all the marine life as they rest in the current. Later in the day we selected Orange Beach to dive. Numerous WWII artifacts were scattered on the sea bed. We were able to see anchors, landing crafts, ammunition and four Crocodile Fish. Our last dive just off of Peleliu was at Barracks Point. A mild current pushed us along the reef as we explored the plateau. Big schools of Barracuda and Snappers were spotted swirling overhead. Just behind a coral head we gazed upon two Giant Clams. Its amazing to see sea life that has been around longer than we have been alive. Turtle Cove was the night dive for the evening. Eight divers descended down the wall and started their search for creatures. Multiple Hinge-Beak Shrimp were spotted hiding amongst the coral. One guest signaled us with his light to come over as he found two blue Slipper Lobster. Under a ledge we also discovered a sleeping turtle. All in all it turned out to be a very successful dive.
Thursday morning was a perfectly calm morning. We loaded up the skiff and headed out towards Blue Corner. As always the site was teeming with life. A big school of Black Triggerfish danced above us atop the plateau. Grey Reef sharks were steadily swimming by enjoying the easy moving current. Of course our friends the Napoleon Wrasse were hanging out. Probably the friendliest Wrasse in Palau, they follow us along the plateau posing for pictures. Virgin Holes proved to be a great second dive. The tide was high enough to drop in through the top of the reef. Descending down to 100 ft. the chimney exited onto the wall and we swam right over a sleeping juvenile White Tip Reef shark. We floated down the reef with the current looking under all the over hangs for any critters. After about 20 minutes we looked down to the right and lying in the sand shoot was the rarely seen Leopard Shark. What a magnificent surprise!! After allowing a guest to take a few photos he lifted off the sand and swam out towards the blue. Towards the end of the dive we saw a massive Green Turtle nestled between coral heads. The afternoon dives satisfied all the guests. On a wall just off of Ngemelis Island we saw another Leopard Shark! Two in the same number of dives is quite unheard of. Manta Rays hung out with us at the cleaning station on the fourth dive. Slowly floating in from the blue and hovering almost motion less over the sand. Along with the Manta was a Dog Tooth Tuna. Very curious he came almost face to face with more than one diver. The night dive today was at German Coral Garden. The bioluminescence was shinning as we slowly moved along the wall. A few creatures were spotted sleeping, a few hunting but the highlight of the dive was an Octopus. Blending in with his surroundings he was a bit difficult to pick out at first but never the less he caught the sharp eye of our divers and we were able to snap a few photos.
Friday morning we started moving towards the island of Ulong. A clear sky packed with stars made for a great morning transit. After anchoring just off the island all on board had a hearty breakfast and were headed out to Ulong Channel for our first dive. Ulong Channel and Siaes Tunnel were the morning dives. An incoming current provided a nice drift dive experience for the guests. Sharks and turtles were plentiful on both dives. The corals really stood out in the channel and along the reef top as today was a perfectly sunny day. Disco clams and Dart fish were seen in the tunnel and along the wall was a sole Octopus flickering back and forth between a whitish brown and red color. The afternoon dives chosen were Siaes Corner and Ulong Coral Garden. Siaes Corner was filled with schools of Fusiliers and Black Lip Snappers. Grey Reef Sharks were swimming by in the blue as the divers hung out on the reef edge and enjoyed the show. An incoming tide provided a moderate current for the last dive of the day. Upon approaching the mouth of Ulong Channel we hooked in and prepared our cameras for the action to come. After only a minute or two multiple Grey Reef Sharks passed by just off the edge. Tagging along were a couple of White Tip Reef Sharks that were a bit more curious. Swimming a lazy 8 pattern the juvenile White Tips came within feet of our divers and provided for some great photos. In the sand just below us a couple of Peacock Flounders were seen scurrying across the sand. After about 15 minutes of being hooked in we moved on down the channel with the current. Barely fining at all the divers glided down the channel left and right. We passed by a massive patch of Lettuce Coral and then swam over to the far side of the channel to take a few photos of two Giant Clams. The channel turned out to be a beautiful dive and a great way to end the day in Ulong.
Saturday morning we departed Ulong Island and headed northeast towards Koror. About half way to the marina we stopped the big boat and dropped the skiff in the water for the guests trip to Jellyfish Lake. A wonderful experience with millions of jellyfish slowly floating through the calm lake. After the lake we took a tour through the Rock Islands. Limestone cliffs and archways dot the waters of Palau and number in the thousands. Once back to the big boat the guest grabbed their wetsuits and underwater cameras and we went on our way to Chandelier Caves. Three air chambers make up the cave system. Each was spacious enough for us to surface and enjoy the beautiful stalactites that hang from the ceilings. Just outside the cave system we found a couple Mandarin fish. Although wary of our presence they came out from hiding and allowed us a few photos. Just feet from the Mandarin fish was a Devil Scorpion fish. Obviously not in a hurry, he slowly walked across the seabed. After a few hours to decompress from the long week of diving we changed clothes and met upstairs for the cocktail party. A few slideshows were played and even more stories were swapped as we shared a few drinks and laughs.
Sunday morning and the guests were all escorted off the boat to catch their ride to the numerous hotels on Palau. After seven full days aboard the Palau Aggressor 2 we said, with heavy hearts, our final goodbyes. A special thanks goes out to Mr. Wayne Hassen for joining us on this trip. He was able to share a few videos with the group and educate us on some of the programs he is involved in. Thanks again to everyone for making this a great week.