Log Date: Sunday, Jun 19, 2016
Entry By: Rock Islands Aggressor Crew
Rock Islands Aggressor - Palau - Charter Report
Charter Dates: June 19th – June 26th, 2016
Sunday June 19 we welcomed a group of eighteen Americans aboard the vessel for a week of diving adventures. After the usual gear setup, welcome aboard dinner and boat orientation, everyone settled in for a good nights rest to prepare for the next days dives.
Day 1 started us out on the Helmet Wreck where everyone got used to their dive equipment, did a weight check and explored this WWII sub chaser wreck. Having not been discovered until 1988, this wrecks actual name is still unknown. Due to the stacks of Japanese soldier helmets found in the aft hold it is often called the Helmet wreck. In addition it is loaded with numerous depth charges so it sometimes is referred to as the Depth Charge Wreck. Either way it is one of the few wrecks here in Palau to not have been salvage so it still has some interesting artifacts aboard. Besides the above items, we saw a rifles, gas mask, sake and beer bottles, a stern gun and a couple of porcelain sinks with the logo of the Japanese company who manufactured them. Marine life on this wreck included crocodile fish, lion fish, juvenile pajama cardinal fish, nudibranchs and black coral trees growing all along the wreck. Dive 2 took us to the Iro which is a 470 foot wreck which sits upright in 60-100+ feet of water. This massive vessel has both a bow and stern gun, two large king post which rise to as shallow as 35 feet and a stern mast that attracts a variety of fish life including a tomato anemone fish colony among two giant clams. In addition we found a large cuttlefish along the deck at 80 feet and were able to observe it changing colors and body texture patterns.
On Tuesday, day 2 we began diving at Ulong Channel where the current was light and there were several gray reef sharks along with a white tip! After unhooking the group gently drifted down the channel enjoying the variety of marine life found here and the beautiful corals along the sides of the channel. Toward the end of the dive we came upon the large patch of lettuce coral which is home to numerous bigeye soldier fish. In addition we again saw two giant clams and from there surfaced to calm seas. Dive 2 took us to Sandy Paradise where we had clear water and another mild current. Marine life highlights included two leaf scorpion fish, school of barracuda, several species of angel and rabbit fish. In addition we saw a large colony of garden eels in the sand and a school of blue stripe snappers. For dive 3 we went to Big Drop Off where the current was mild and the visibility in the 80 foot range. Here we saw a multitude of soft corals, colorful sea fans, sweet lips under several ledges, nudibranchs on the wall and a couple of turtles. German Channel was dive #4 where we hoped to see mantas, but they were a no show. However, the water was clear and there was plenty of other marine life to enjoy including several gray reef sharks, a bait ball of fusiliers with feeding jacks swimming among them and and excellent hard coral growth as we drifted down the channel where we saw groupers, snappers, butterfly fish and a variety of other tropical fish throughout the dive. The night dive took place at German Channel Coral Garden where the highlights included a cuttlefish, octopus, nine foot leopard shark and a crocodile fish.
Day 3 started with a bang when we went to Blue corner. Here the current was light and the marine life was plentiful. With the group hooked in we saw several gray and white tip sharks patrolling the ledge, schools of jacks and barracuda, a small eagle ray in the current along with a rare thorny ray on the plateau. Other highlights included schools of blue strip snappers along with the red soldier fish among the small patch of lettuce coral found on the plateau. Dive 2 took place at New Drop Off where again there was fairly light current and clear water. Here the sea fans were plentiful and the soft corals were out and puffed up. Upon hooking in we saw turtles and a school of juvenile gray reef sharks along with one large adult. As we drifted over the plateau, we also saw another octopus, additional turtles, schools of snappers and an oriental sweet lips.
On Day 4 we planned to go to Peleliu, however the west swell picked up and prevented us from being able to enter the channel to Camp Beck. As an alternative, we dove Blue Corner again and again it was an excellent dive. With mild to no current conditions, the plateau was very active with the usual suspects such as gray reef and white tip sharks, schools of barracuda and horse eyed jacks, blue stripped snappers and many soldier fish among the lettuce coral. Next we dove the Blue Holes where we saw the electric scallop and an octopus inside the holes. On the outer wall the soft corals were out and colorful. In addition we saw some gray reef sharks, a turtle and some groupers. The most unusual sighting was a very large school of parrot fish grazing along the plateau while also mating. In and among this large school was a great barracuda and a white tip reef shark who were using the school as camouflage so they could hunt smaller prey.
Day 5 put us at Peleliu where we did the first dive along the Peleliu Express. With little to no current the highlight from this dive included some gray reef sharks, 2 large peacock flounders and colonies of zebra dart fish all along the plateau. During dive 2 the majority of the guest opted to do the WWII land tour with only 2 choosing to dive West Wall. On this dive we saw large schools of black tail snappers, soldier fish and a couple of schools of bump head parrot fish. In addition we had a few close encounters with green sea turtles. Dive 3 was at Barracks Point where we saw a beautiful hard coral garden that supports a variety of marine life such as several giant clams, turtles, anemones, several species of angel fish and some of the most pristine hard corals found anywhere.
Day 6 dive sites included the Jake Sea Plane and Chandelier Cave. Both these sites are inside the lagoon and are unique dives. Highlights included mandarin fish, razor fish, twin spot gobies and colonies of pajama cardinal fish. After the dives everyone washed and dried their equipment and did a bit of sightseeing in town. At 6pm everyone gathered for the cocktail party and watched the slide show from this weeks dives. At 10pm the group headed to the airport for their flight home to the states. The crew of the Rock Islands Aggressor would like to thank everyone who joined us for the week and we hope to see you all again sometime in the future.
-Rock Islands Aggressor Crew