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Rock Islands Aggressor :


Log Date: Sunday, Mar 22, 2015
Entry By: Tropic Dancer Crew


    On Sunday we picked up another 18 guests from PPR for a special snorkeling charter. This group is from the US and brought on board with them a local snorkeling guide, Mac. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins, and then gave them time to get situated in their cabins. Next we headed upstairs for the vessel orientation and safety briefing and chef Manis dinner was soon ready. After desert we watched a documentary on Palau, soon all the guests were off to bed.      

     Early Monday morning we started up the big boat early headed into Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general snorkel briefing. Our first excursion was at Nikko Bay. We first went to Rembrandts Reef and snorkeled along the top of the small drop off looking at all the different corals of had corals. To end we found old parts of landing crafts that the Japanese scuttled after the Americans took control of Palau. Next we header over to Lettuce Coral Reef and found many patches of lettuce coral all along the slopping wall. Mandarin Fish Lake. We tied up the skiff to the mornings on the outside of the marine lake and snorkeled in. Inside the marine lake we found the mandarin fish, pajama cardinal fish, black belted cardinal fish and a nudibranch egg coil. We then snorkeled out of the lake back to the skiff. We returned back to the big boat for second and then went into After we returned to the big boat, it moved out of pinchers and into the Western Lagoon during lunch. We headed out for our second excursion. Our first stop was at the Japanese Gas Station for some photos. Then we continued on to Palaus famous limestone archway for more photos. Then we went to our first snorkeling spot at Soft Coral Archway. This archway goes under one of the rock islands and under water, the soft coral covers the limestone edges, all filter feeding in the current that pushes through the archway. On our way to Cemetery reef we spotted some of the Rur flowers that were named by the Germans, are endemic to Palau and only grow in the rock islands. We snorkeled next around Cemetery Reef, the tide was really low and some of the hard corals were exposed in the middle. Its so named because a long time ago the Japanese placed head stone sized concrete blocks on the reef for the coral to grow on. It worked and its now a beautiful hard coral garden with schools of tropical fish all around. Dinner was soon ready when we arrived at the big boat, after we watched the Living Edens documentary on Palau.  

     After breakfast, Tuesday morning, we headed out to Ulong Channel, to snorkel the beautiful channel before all the day boats arrive.  We did the left hand side of the channel as you go in, we saw a grey reef shark, some turtles, white tip reef sharks sleeping on the bottom, one guest was able to see the rare blue girdled angel fish. Ulong is known for its beautiful hard corals and we saw a lot, table corals,  stag horn corals,  lettuce coral and much more. After the snorkeling we it was full high tide so we went to Ulong Island. Our first stop was a small inlet where up on the beach was one of the Yapese stone money. Hundreds of years ago, after they carved it out of the limestone, they lowered it down to the beach and in doing so it broke. They left it behind. We gathered around the coin and Mac our snorkeling guide told us all about it. Next we went ashore on survivor beach on the front of Ulong. Mac told us all about the migratory routes of ancient settlers and we hiked in off the beach and saw the ancient village. After lunch we headed back out for more snorkeling. Our first stop was at Siaes Wall. We started from the Siaes Tunnel mooring and headed towards the corner. We saw a bunch of napoleon wrasse, some turtles and an octopus out free swimming over the reef. Next we headed to Ulong Channel. The current was now incoming but we started at the furthest mooring from the channel and slowly drifted along towards the channel. Over the coral garden we spotted a couple of white tip sharks sleeping on the bottom. We saw the school of horse eyed jacks and once at the mouth we drifted into the channel with the incoming current. This time we went to the right side of the channel. Again everyone enjoyed the beautiful hard corals. The skiff then picked us up and during dinner the big boat moved over to German Channel.

     Wednesday morning we started the day with German Channel. We could see that there was feeding action going on at the mouth. We entered the water and swam over to the feeding area. We saw all the blue fusiliers and the black snapper. About 30 minutes into the dive two mantas showed up and were below us swimming around the cleaning station. With the thick plankton coming into the mouth of the channel one of the mantas eventually came up to feed. It did several passes underneath us. We ended by letting the current push us into the channel. Next we went over to German False Channel. We timed it perfectly It was the end of the incoming current so we started on the right side of the false channel and at the back we turned around and the outgoing current pushed us out the other side of the channel. We saw all the hard coral formations, a black tip reef shark, and even a couple of banded messmate pipefish. After lunch we set out to Big Drop Off and Ferns Wall. All the guests enjoyed the drift along the top of the wall we saw a lot of tropical fish, anemones, black tip reef shark, and even a grey reef shark and turtles. We returned to the big boat to drop off some of the guests that did not want to snorkel the next site. Next we went to Alexys Coral Garden. We snorkeled along the top of the reef and saw some lion fish and a couple of lobsters.  Dinner was soon ready when we arrived and after we watched a documentary called Oceans.

     Thursday morning we returned to German Channel. Again there was feeding action at the mouth. We entered the water and again snorkeled over top the feeding schools of fish. Then two mantas showed up and both were feeding under us. The current was light, so everyone was able to swim with the mantas for the rest of our time. Then we headed over to Ngemelis Coral Garden. We snorkeled along the shallow hard coral garden and spotted a couple sweet lips, turtle, and some anemones. After lunch we started our next excursion at Barnums Wall. We drifted along the top of the drop off and found a crocodile fish sitting on the shallow part of the reef. Also we spotted a black tip reef shark off in the blue. Next we headed around the corner to Turtle Cove. We started from the back mooring and swam along the top of the reef. We found a peacock flounder, all the photographers took some great photos, it was only three feet deep to where it was blending in to the reef. We continued along and next to the hole on top the reef, we spotted a thin ghost pipe fish. With it being so shallow the photographers were able to take some great photos. We ended at the corner with all the schools of fish that hang out there. Back at the big boat dinner was ready and after Mac, the snorkeling guide gave a lecture on geology. Soon after everyone was off to bed.

     Friday morning we started the day with a very unique snorkel at Jelly Fish Lake. We hiked over the hill to the lake and entered the water. After a short swim into the middle of the lake, we started to see the jelly fish. Soon we were surrounded by millions of stingless jelly fish all pulsing towards the sun. We posed for pictures diving down into the thick groupings of jelly fish. We then checked out the sides of the lake where the white anemones wait to catch a passing jellyfish and eat it. Also the mangroves trees that line the lakes edges. We hiked back over the hill and took the skiff to Clam City. We did a short snorkel where there is a big grouping of giant clams at only 10 feet deep. We enjoyed seeing all the different colors of the mantels of the clams. After lunch, we went out to Fantasy Reef and rainbow reef. We saw all the beautiful hard corals and some lion fish with all the small bait fish. Next we went over to Wonder Channel. We snorkeled around the shallow reef of a rock island and enjoyed seeing the beautiful hard corals. There were several patches of blue stag horn coral and small tropical fish. Back at the big boat, dinner was soon ready, we sat down to chef Manis final supper of turkey, honey baked ham, mashed potatoes, and more. After dinner Andy showed his video of the charter and everyone enjoyed the look back at the week.

     We woke up Saturday morning and moved the big boat closer to the east side of Palau. We jumped on the skiff and headed to the milky way. We dropped anchor in the middle of the sheltered lagoon and brought up hand full after hand full of the white mud from the bottom. Then the guests started to smear it all over their bodies. After everyone was covered, we took photos and jumped into the water to wash it all off. It was a fun way to start the day with a spa treatment. Next we headed over to the Japanese zero that sits on the shallow reef. We snorkeled around the wreck and after we went through the rock island back to the big boat. The boat moved over to the west side of Palau and we set out for one last snorkel at Cemetery Reef. The tide was higher than the last time we snorkeled here and everyone enjoyed the beautiful hard coral garden with all the tropical reef fish. On the skiff we did one last ride through the rock islands, and the big boat took us all the way back to port. After an afternoon of relaxing and packing snorkeling 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. After dinner the guests came back to the boat, and we said our goodbyes as two guests headed to the airport for their early morning flight.   

     Sunday morning the guests woke up to continental breakfast and at 8am we said our goodbyes as the rest of the guests headed off to their hotels. We would like to thank all of our guests for joining us this week aboard the Tropic Dancer, and a very special thank you to Snorkeling Etc. and Wendy Simon for bring us this great group of snorkelers, hope to see you all again soon…

          -Tropic Dancer Crew