Log Date: Sunday, Jul 05, 2015
Entry By: Tropic Dancer Crew
After 4pm on Sunday, we welcomed on board 13 guests, all currently living in the US and 1 from Canada. 4 guests are arriving on Monday night. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins. Then on the dive deck, everyone set up their dive gear. We sat down to dinner and after we covered the safety briefing and vessel orientation and watched a documentary on Palau.
Early Monday morning we moved the big boat into Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing and our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck. We entered the water, did our weight check and descended down to the wreck. We checked out all three cargo holds, seeing the WWII helmets and depth charges. On the bow we found the banded messmate pipe fish and signal gobies. Back at the stern we spent some time looking over the WWII artifacts that have been collected from the wreck and placed by the bow gun. During our surface interval the big boat moved over to the other side of Malakal Harbor and our second dive was at the Iro. Here the guests were greeted by some, somewhat shy, reef squid. Tomato anemone fish were seen towards the stern of the wreck. After all the divers came up we had a fabulous lunch and motored to our 3rd wreck of the day, the Chuyo Maru. Here, the guests saw some lion fish, a crocodile fish, several nudibranchs and a banded pipe fish. Last dive of the day was the wreck of the Haffa A Dai. After showers everybody settled in for a gourmet dinner and a reef hook briefing. Also the Broshard family arrived after several delays in transit to Palau.
On Tuesday morning we started our day with German Channel. The incoming tide created a little bit of current. We dropped in on the Koror side of the channel at the red anemone. Schools of jacks, barracuda and snapper were seen. Grey reef sharks were seen in fairly large numbers and had large ray resting the sand allowing photographers get nice and close, only a few inches away. Next up was Turtle Cove. With little to no current, this sight is always a pleasure. Several pipe fish, flat worms and several varieties of nudibranchs. Next up was Big Drop Off. We drifted along the wall with a outgoing current. A white tip shark was seen feeding in a small alcove on the wall. Several grey reef sharks were patrolling out in the blue. A Napoleon wrasse was seen in the shallows. On the top of the reef in a sandy area schools of sergeant majors were diligently protecting their nests, full of eggs. German Channel was our next site. Schools of pacific barracuda were seen, as well as, many other tropical fish. Several grey reef sharks cruised over our dive group. Many turtles were also in attendance. A lone barramundi cod was seen swimming with a grouper. Final afternoon dive was German drop off. Again several turtles were seen and a juvenile black snapper. Night dive was on Caroline’s Reef. A large marble ray was the highlight of the dive. A variety of nudibranchs were seen as well.
Wednesday morning after breakfast we headed out to New Drop Off for our first hook-in dive. The current was light so we only hooked in for fifteen minutes watching a few sharks swim out in the blue and had a peacock flounder scurrying between divers. After unhooking divers explored the top of the reef finding eels, turtle and lots of fish life. For the second dive divers descended down German Drop Off, first exploring a shallow sand shoot with sharks, nudi’s and another peacock flounder. Then we ventured along the wall finding some great macro life and an octopus tucked in amongst the coral. For dive three divers headed for Alexy’s Coral Garden just outside German Channel, amongst all the sharks and turtle’s divers also had a spotted eagle ray circle around several times. Divers chose to combined dive for and the night dive together for a dusk dive off of Ngemelis Wall. As the sunset divers watched as day turned to night and the wall change with some fish tucking in for the night, while others emerged for their holes.
Thursday we began our day with the world famous Blue Corner, dropping in and making our way to the hook-in area we were quickly joined by our friendly napoleon wrasse. Once hooked in divers kicked back and watched as a parade of sharks swam out on the edge of the reef. For dive two we headed back out to German Channel for another try at mantas but unfortunately struck out but still had a great dive with lots of sharks, an octopus, mantis shrimp and a giant clam. After lunch we headed out back towards the corner to Blue Holes, with a strong surge on top be went through the window around forty feet and explored the large cavern with amazing ambient light coming in from the top. Inside we found several fish, several disco clams and on the way out we were able to see three pigmy seahorses on a large seafan. For the fourth dive divers explored ferns wall finding tons of different nudi’s, scorpion fish, turtles and a few sharks. After another excellent dinner from chef Cameron a few divers went out for the last night dive at Alexy’s Coral Garden. Along the way divers found lots of little shrimp, crabs, and several plorabranchs but had the high light of the dive at the very end finding a cuttlefish hovering over the reef.
On Friday morning we moved the Tropic Dancer out to Ulong Island with our first dive out at Siaes Tunnel. Inside the tunnel its self we were able to find fish rarely seen by recreational diver such as the blue back pigmy angle, black white angelfish and the helfrich dartfish. With an incoming tide we went to explore one of the best dive sites in Palau, Ulong Channel. We divers made their way along the wall before hooking in at the mouth of the channel and watching as numerous sharks swam back in forth in front of them. After about thirty minutes divers unhooked and drifted down the channel seeing lots of groupers, anemones, a huge patch of lettuce coral and finished the dive by two giant clams sitting side by side with soft coral growing off of them. Lunch was had and divers took off again heading to Ulong Coral Garden, first exploring the edge of the wall then making their way up on top of the beautiful coral garden were a huge bait ball of jacks swam in and out of the divers. The last dive of the day was at Sandy Paradise, we made our way along the edge of the coral garden and sandy bottom finding four leaf scorpion fish stack up on top of a coral outcropping with thousands of little glassy eyed sleepers surrounding it. For the last dinner of the charter chef Cameron prepaid an excellent thanksgiving day style meal, after which our video pro Jon showed off all the images he had captured of the guest and wildlife we had seen throughout the week.
We woke up Saturday morning with the big boat in the rock islands. We were totally surrounded by the islands and could hear all the birds chirping as they too were waking up. 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 went by skiff on a rock island tour. We stopped at Palau’s famous limestone archway and some WWII sites before returning to the boat. We then 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. After dinner the guests came back to the boat, and most of them started packing and at 10pm we said our goodbyes as 5 guests headed to the airport.
Sunday morning at 2am we said our goodbyes to the Riddle family as they headed to the airport to fly home. The remaining 5 guests woke up to continental breakfast and at 8am we said our goodbyes to one of them as. 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