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Palau Aggressor II Boat Report
Nov. 8-15, 2015
Capt/Photo Pro: Scott
2nd Capt.: Casey
Divemaster/Skiff Driver: Joe
Divemaster/Video Pro: Ernan
On Sunday the 8th the Palau Aggressor II crew welcomed a group of 18 guests from New York State, 7 who stayed over from the previous charter. The first order of business was checking in with Capt Scott, setting up all dive equipment, and cabin orientations. After crew introductions and a thorough boat orientation, we all sat down for a delicious meal prepared by Chef Dan.
Come Monday morning we departed the dock at 6AM and traveled a short distance to our first dive site, the Helmet Wreck. Following an extensive dive deck and site briefing, we boarded the skiff for the first dive. This WWII Japanese wreck is sits upright in 30 to 100 feet of water. It is partially intact and loaded with depth charges. Since this was the first dive of the trip the group was able to check out their equipment and adjust their weights in the calm lagoon water. We saw a number of lionfish, yellow tail snappers and one very large jellyfish which was playing host to a variety of fish life. After 45-55 minutes the group ascended and boarded the skiff for the short ride back to the PA II. For the second dive we skiffed over to the Chuyo Maru which is a 270 foot ship that sits upright in 35-120 feet of water. The group descended down the mooring line to the Kingpost and then onto the deck where we saw an octopus, lionfish, several nudibranchs along with schooling snappers.
Tuesday’s first dive was at world the renowned Blue Holes. The group entered one of four of these holes and descended to the large chamber which spills out onto the wall at about 90 feet. Inside the large cavern we observed a disco clam, lots of gobies on the bottom and colorful encrusting sponges along the cavern wall. As we exited the cavern, many of the group saw a pigmy sea horse on a sea fan, patrolling trevelly and a number of trumpetfish. From there we drifted along the wall where we saw a number of schooling fish including yellow tail snappers, sea bass, big eye squirrel fish along with barracuda and several grey reef sharks. Nearing the point and Blue corner the current increased slightly and so did the fish life. More sharks appeared along with 2 green sea turtles, one enjoying a jellyfish for breakfast. With visibility close to 100 feet you could see fish throughout the water column and the group agreed it was like swimming in an aquarium. Dive 2 had us diving New Drop Off where we backrolled into 80 feet of visibility and 84% water. Cruising the wall with a gentle outgoing current we saw several sharks, a school of barracuda, colorful soft corals and sea fans along with clouds of pyramid butterfly fish. Once we moved shallower to the reef plateau we used our reef hooks to hook in and enjoy watching the abundant fish life swirling in front of us. After about 15 minutes we continued along the top of the reef and observed 3 different turtles feeding, schools of blue stripped snappers hover along the wall and white and black tip sharks cruising above the rocky shelf. Other highlight included three napoleon wrasses, three bump head parrot fish and several yellow nose triggerfish preparing their nest.
Wednesday morning found us at Pelelliu, famous for one of the fiercest battle of WWII and some of the best diving throughout the Pacific. Our 1st dive was at Peleliu Express. This is where the Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Sea meet and is well known for it rich diversity in regards to marine life. Highlights from this dive included grey reef and white tip sharks, schooling jacks, dory tangs and yellow soft coral encrusted walls. For our 2nd dive we went to West Wall where we started the dive by descending through a shallow hole in the reef top and down through an arch to 35 feet. This is where we spotted a dragon wrasse (juvenile rock mover) drifting along the bottom of the overhang. Upon exiting this shallow cavern we descended further down soft coral encrusted wall and drifted along in a gentile current enjoying the large schools of yellow and red tail snappers along with the many big eyed squirrelfish that inhabit the numerous arches and overhangs that this dive site provides In addition to the 2nd dive, ½ of the group opted to take the Pelelui WWII tour.
Thursday first dive took us back to Blue Corner. The group dropped into a moderate incoming current and rode it to the point with wall on the right. Upon reaching the hook in spot, all used their reef hooks and enjoyed the show of schooling barracuda, sharks, turtles and feeding pyramid butterflyfish. After about 30 minutes everyone unhooked and drifted over the shallow plateau where they saw a marble sting ray, moray eels, white tip sharks and black triggerfish feeding above the reef. There were also some palenose triggerfish that are beginning to nest. Dive 2 had us on Virgin Blue Hole which starts close to the surface and descends at an angle coming out near 100 feet. On this day there was an upwelling and a noticeable drop in the temperature at depth. Dive 3 was at Dexters Wall this was one of the best dives of the day, 9 turtles where spotted along the wall and in the coral garden toward the end of the dive. We saw several anemone fish, fusiliers, a large napoleon wrasse and a very large school of parrotfish grazing on the algy. However, the main highlight of this dive was the leopard shark which was lying in the sand at about 80 feet. As the group slowly close in, it began to swim about and everyone got a close up view of this majestic animal.
Day six we began our activities by going to Jellyfish Lake where everyone snorkeled with millions of non-stinging jellyfish. This unique experience is one in a kind and the whole group really enjoyed it. The snorkel was followed by a skiff ride through the beautiful Rock Islands. Once returning to the PA II, we geared up and went to Chandelier Cave to dive this iconic dive site that has three breathable air chambers you can surface in and check out the many stalactites that hang from the ceiling. In addition, we found mandarin fish, pajama cardinal fish and a spiny devilfish outside the cave. We then wrapped up another excellent week aboard the Palau Aggressor II with the traditional sunset cocktail party where everyone compared notes and enjoyed each other’s company.
We here at the Palau Aggressor II wanted to say thank you to all the guest and we hope to see you again soon.