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Log Date: Sunday, May 03, 2015
Entry By: Tropic Dancer Crew









 



Palau, Tropic Dancer
Captains Log May 3 - 10

 

On Sunday, we had received the unfortunate news that sixteen our eighteen guests were delayed on arriving to Palau due to airline issues and would not be able to make it in until Monday night. We did however welcome two guests aboard that night who had had more fortunate luck and were able to make all the flights without issue. We showed them to their rooms, got all their stuff squared away.

 

On Monday, the two guest that were on island went off to explore Palau, going on the Rock Islands tour and visiting the jail to view and even purchase a few of the beautiful hand craved story boards of Palau. That night the rest of our guest arrive tried from the journey in but ready to get diving so after a quick room briefing and getting their gear set up we had our Captains briefing. Afterwards we moved the boat out into the harbor to prepare for the next day.

 

Early Tuesday morning we moved the boat out to Ulong. After breakfast guest listened to the dive deck briefing then headed down stairs to prepare for their first dive at Sandy Paradise. Divers entered the water did their weight checks and descended on down this gorgeous slopping coral garden. At around 70 feet coral met with the sandy bottom we went to check out the locale cleaning station but not much was going on so divers made their way down with the edge were we were able to find four leaf scorpion fish on a coral outcropping. After that divers continued on up the sloping reef seeing schooling barracuda, a white tip and a juvenile scorpion fish. For dive two guest and crew headed out to Siaes Tunnel, a massive dome tunnel with the entrance at 90. Divers swam close to the tunnels ceiling spotting several rare fish for recreational diving such as the pigmy blue back angelfish, black & white butterfly fish and the decorate dartfish. After about twenty minutes of exploring the tunnel divers exited and started to make a slow ascent up the wall seeing the mixture of hard and soft corals as well as having a couple of gray reef sharks cruise by. After lunch divers head back out for dive three, pretty much starting were they had fished the last dive but continuing further on down the wall to Siaes Corner. Upon arrival there was very light out going current so divers dove in with the wall on the right, when we arrived at the corner the current had switched to an incoming tide so we made the short swim to the other side of the small corner and hooked in for the first time. Divers had a few sharks pass and some schooling but after about fifteen minutes divers unhooked and explored the top of the corner. Many off the guest got to see a locale octopus free swimming and even change colors, divers also spotted a turtle and moray amongst the reef. Then for the last dive of the first day with an incoming tide we headed out for the world famous Ulong Channel. Divers swam down the wall and made the short swim to the mouth of the channel were divers hooked in and kicked pack to enjoy the show. We had about a dozen sharks mix of gray reef and white tip cruising in front of the channel and small school of barracuda circling around. Thirty-five minutes into the dive we unhooked and headed into the channel while the current was fairly mild at the mouth it pickup in the channel but divers enjoyed flying over the reef seeing a few dozen large grouper dipping in and out of the corals. Then we sailed over the massive patch of lettuce corals hoped a few ridges and finished the dive at the two giant claims sitting side by side, as divers surfaced there was spectacular sunset making a great end to the first day.

 

Wednesday, morning we woke up early and moved the big boat down to Peleliu. After we tied up the big boat in Fort Beck, our first dive was at Peleliu Corner. With an outgoing current we dove The Cut amply named for the huge cut in the reef wall just before our hook in area. Divers descended on down the wall past the cut which had a large school of black snapper circling in the eddy-current, then we headed up to the edge off the wall. There wasnt any sharks at the start of the hook in area so divers followed the edge of the wall for a while till they started spotting the sharks then hooked in to view the show. There we had frequent pass byes of gray reef sharks and a large school of king mackerel swim through. At the very end of the dive just as divers were beginning to start their ascent a lucky few of the guest got to see a Great Hammerhead come in from the plateau and drop back down the wall into the depths. When we returned to the big boat fourteen of the guests went on the Peleliu WWII land tour to check out the historical sites of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. As for those who had chose to stay behind snuck off of for another dive at Orange Beach Coral Garden. At the dive site the current was ripping but with only three guests they decided to give it a whirl. With the strong current the divemaster and three guests had a quick view of this great dive site flying over massive hard coral tops and spotting a few old war artifacts like a massive anchor and part from landing crafts. The dive was fast but fun they then returned to the Tropic Dancer to await the return of the rest of their group. After lunch Barracks Point was the scheduled dive but with large swells moving in from a western low pressure system we decided to stay closer to the big boat and give Orange Beach another try. Although there were large swells on top, under neither the current had calmed down considerably since the last dive making it a nice easy dive to explore this beautiful coral garden. Being able to take or time our time and explore we found more artifacts from the battle landing crafts, bullets, mortar shells, and huge change for docking the large ships, not to mention the great animal live. We were able to see a bunch of turtles, white tips, a cool flat worm and we were even able to seek out a crocodile well hidden in some rubble coral. For the last dive in Peleliu we set off to West Wall, as we descended down the wall we spotted some great macro life like nudis and fireworms. Then as divers peeked around a cut in the wall everyone one was surprised to see a massive Marble ray lay in some sand. Once the ray its self saw all tie divers it decided to really put on a show by puffing up and circling around for a minute or two before swimming off into the blue. After the dive we returned to the Tropic Dancer to start our journey back north towards German Channel. Unfortunately due to the lage swell and the incoming low pressure system we were unable to do a night dive but instead decided to move it to Friday.

 

Thursday morning due to large swells on the outer reef sites we decided to stay in a more protected area and started the day at German Drop Off. This was a fun dive seeing more than a dozen turtles, several nudibranchs, and couple of Head-shield slugs. For dive two we headed off to Big Drop Off. This was another great macro finding several nudis, small starfish, tiny crabs and of the course for the large side of the dive there was the ball and chain left by Germans pre-war and a turtle. After lunch divers set forth to Barnums wall. With a light current divers descended down with the wall on their right as they cruised the wall divers spotted turtles, white tips and a pair of large great barracuda in search for food. The fourth dive of the day was at German Channel with the hopes of seeing mantas. Unfortunately there was no such luck, divers still had a good dive watch tons of school black snapper and some barracuda as well a beautiful red anemone. Then after dinner divers were finally able to go on a night dive and we headed back to Big Drop Off. The wall was full of night life with the yellow soft corals normally tucked in during the day out in full bloom waving in the light current. We were able to find two crocodile fish, a large plorabranch, squids in the open water and a white tip out hunting for food.

 

On Friday morning, we headed back to German Channel for another try at the mantas. For most of the dive it was looking like a bust even with perfect conditions a light in coming current, tons of schooling fish and decent visibility. Then finally at the very end as divers were making there ascents magic happened with two large manta flying by several times. Then for dive two with the weather looking a little better we headed out to Blue Corner for a great hook in dive. Divers enjoyed kicking back and enjoying the show although there were no shark there was plenty of other life like swarms of small trigger fish, barracuda and of course our two very friendly Napoleon wrasse that all the divers were able to take pictures with. After lunch we headed back out towards blue corner going a little bit further to the Blue Holes. With tide low we were not able to enter from the top but instead came in for around forty feet. Inside the holes visibility was not very good so we took a short tour though and got a few pictures with the ambient light. On the way out of the holes divers got to see the disco clams with their pulsing lights and a tiny pigmy seahorse sitting on a seafan. After exiting divers drifted down to blue corner and headed across the plateau seeing lots of white tips along the edge of the wall and once again running into our Napoleon wrasse friends. Then for dive four divers ventured out to Ngemelis Wall for another great macro dive. Divers were able to find nudis, crabs, starfish and a small garden eel sticking his headed out of a crack in the wall. Divers then return to the boat to feast on yet another suburb dinner, after guest viewed a short documentary on Jelly Fish Lake.

 

We woke up Saturday morning with the big boat in the rock islands. Our first excursion was Jelly Fish Lake. We tied the skiff up on the outside and started our hike over the hill to the lake. We entered the water and after a short swim into the middle of the lake we were surrounded by millions of jelly fish. Everyone enjoyed this time in the lake, with an estimated 13 million jelly fish. After the lake we traveled by skiff on a rock island tour. We stopped for photos at Palaus famous limestone archway and some WWII sites on the way back to the big boat. We did a quick turnaround and headed out to Chandelier Cave. We surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and outside the cave we found the mandarin fish. 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

Many of guest from this great group of divers were on the same flight out to continue the adventure to Turk that night. As for the other they had another day to go explore Palau we said good bye early Sunday morning as they headed out. 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