On Sunday we welcomed onboard a group 17 guests from Bulgaria. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins. Then on the dive deck, everyone set up their dive gear. We checked certification cards and headed upstairs for dinner. After desert we covered the vessel orientation and the ships safety briefing. After the briefing we handed out the nautilus lifelines, and then we put on a documentary on Palau so the guests could have an idea about what we should see this week.
Early Monday morning we started up the big boat early headed into Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing and first dive was at the Helmet Wreck or also known as the Depth Charge Wreck. This wreck is so named due to the couple stacks of WWII helmets found in the first cargo hold as well as the depth charges in the first two cargo holds. We entered the water and everyone did a weight check and soon started their descent. We stopped in the first cargo hold, saw the helmets, and continued down towards the bow of the wreck. In the middle cargo hold we saw more depth charges and a large spot light. At the bow of the wreck we found the banded messmate pipe fish around the anchor wench. On the way back to the stern we found a couple of signal gobies on the silt bottom on the deck. We then spent the rest of the dive looking over the artifacts that have been collected and placed out on the stern. After the dive the big boat moved out of pinchers and into the rock islands. The Iro was our second dive. We entered the water and passed by the big bow gun and found a crocodile fish. At the stern gun we turned around and circled up the aft king posts where we enjoyed seeing the tomato anemone fish. After the dive the skiff caught up with the big boat on its way to Ulong. After lunch we had the reef hook briefing and dive three was at Siaes Corner. We checked the current and it was very mild. There was no need to hook but there were lots of sharks in front of us. We then explored the top of the reef on the coral garden. Dive four Sandy Paradise. We entered the water and explored the coral garden and found several anemones and had some sharks in the blue. One of the coral heads had 3 leaf fish and covered with glassy sweepers. A great dive. Dinner was soon ready after we arrived at the big boat..
Tuesday morning we started the day with incoming current so dive one was Ulong Channel. Ulong channel is one of the crews favorite dives. it starts with a wonderful wall dive and this time when we reached the mouth of the channel were we normally hook in on the dive the current was not enough. So we headed down the channel looking at the beautiful coral garden. The current began to pick up and we had a great drift down the channel and saw the lettuce coral and the two giant clams at the end of the dive. Tho this is normally the end of the dive while on our safety stop we saw a very large shark it was a great hammer head the first for some of the crew a great way to end the dive. For the second dive we headed back to the Ulong channel area this time we did the coral garden. There was some great hunting action a shark cursing through a large school if scad. Also great trevally hunting schools of fish. So many schooling fish to see. During lunch the big boat headed around to the German Channel area. Dive three was at Turtle Cove. All the guests enjoyed the relaxing drift along the wall and spotted several nudis and even some sharks in the blue. We also saw the square spot anthias and the corner was full of marine life, school of snapper, ruder fish, and horse eyed jacks. For the fourth dive we headed to New Drop Off. It was a mild incoming current and the divers hooked in to watch the sharks and schooling. We then unhooked and explored and explored the plateau. We found a peacock flounder and a couple of turtles. We returned to the big boat and soon after our first night dive was at German Channel. We entered the water and drifted in to the mouth of the channel and saw 2 spearing mantas shrimp and some nudies, towards the end of the dive we sighted a spotted eagle ray cursing mid water the first for the crew seeing a eagle ray at night.
Wednesday morning we started the day with German Channel. The current was incoming and we started on the Peleliu side of the mouth. We entered the water and stopped at the Peleliu side cleaning station, we had a quick pass by with 2 mantas. On the way to the Koror side of the channel we found the ornate ghost pipe fish and also had 2 feather tail rays in the sand. For dive two we headed out to Blue Corner. The current was mild and still incoming. We hooked in at the 45 foot hook in area and had a lot of sharks off in front of us in the blue. It was a great dive; the napoleons were with us as well. After lunch we headed to Ngedebus Corner. We entered the water looking for small stuff but we had a strong current. Half way through the dive the current changed and we had to turn around. For the fourth dive we went to New Drop Off. We started the dive from the outgoing side of the corner. We hooked in and saw a bunch of baby grey reef sharks. After we unhooked we found the green sea turtles on the plateau. After dinner the night dive was at Big drop Off. During the dive we saw a couple of turtles, nudis, and some basket stars out filter feeding in the mild current.
Thursday morning we woke up early and moved the big boat down to Peleliu. Our first dive was at Peleliu Corner. We checked the current and it was a medium incoming current or the Express. We entered the water and went wall on the Right. The current picked up and was moving fast, we made the call not to hook in with the strong current. The current was light and we did not hook in. We drifted all the way down to the corner and saw a large hawksbill turtle and a spotted eagle ray. For dive two we went to Orange Beach Coral Garden. We drifted along the beautiful hard coral garden; saw some schools of barracuda, jacks, and snapper & some WW11 artifacts left from the war. We also found a crocodile fish in a sandy rubble bottom. Dive three was at Barracks Point. This dive site has been known to have some big pelagic life swim by in the blue. We saw some big schools of fish, giant clams and around 10 turtles. Dive Four we planned on going to West Wall. We rang the bell for the dive but all the guests were sleeping. They were all tired out. We left Peleliu and headed back up towards Turtle Cove. After dinner the night dive was at Ngedebus Coral Garden. During the dive we saw a few turtles, nudis, and some white tip sharks out hunting.
On Friday morning we started the day with Blue Corner. The current was very light and incoming. We hooked in at the 45 foot hook in area and had a couple of sharks in front of us and also the large school of horse eyed jacks. The current then switched so we headed across the plateau and saw a huge dog tooth tuna. We ended our dive at the tip of the corner. For dive two we headed back to German Channel. This time we started the dive from Koror side of the channel. We had a couple of mantas cleaning and again we found the ghost pipe fish. After lunch, dive three was at Blue Holes. Everyone enjoyed the ambient light that filled the chamber from above. After we exited the chamber we made it down to Blue Corner and saw several sharks and also the napoleon wrasse. For our last dive of the day our guests wanted more of a break. So we moved the big boat into the rock islands and at 5:30 we did Wonder Channel. We saw a bunch of banded messmate pipe fish and several nudis. After the dive, dinner was ready and the guests sat down to chef Manis final supper that consisted of turkey, honey baked ham, mashed potatoes, broccoli & soup and salad. After dinner we watched Andys video of the charter and a short documentary on Jelly Fish Lake.
We woke up Saturday morning surrounded by the picturesque rock islands and our first excursion was Jelly Fish Lake. Everyone enjoyed this unique snorkel with an estimated 13 million jelly fish. After the lake we took the guests on a rock island tour, we first stopped at the famous limestone archway, then some WWII sites and found a sea snake climbing up the rocks. Back at the big boat we had a quick turnaround and headed out to Chandelier Cave. We surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and once we exited the cave we found the mandarin fish in the shallow coral garden. We also spotted the spinney devil fish outside the entrance of the cave. After an afternoon of cleaning, drying and packing scuba gear, we gathered in the salon at 6pm for the cocktail party and watch a photo slideshow of the week and soon after all the guests headed off into town for dinner. Later we said our goodbyes to all but 2 guests as they were leaving Palau on the Sunday early morning flight.
Sunday morning the remaining 2 guests woke up to continental breakfast and at 8am we said our goodbyes as they headed off to their hotel. We would like to thank all of our guests for joining us this week aboard the Tropic Dancer, hope to see you all again soon…
-Tropic Dancer Crew