Captain Marc’s Report from the Palau Aggressor

Palau Aggressor Captain’s Report February 10 – 17, 2013

Log Date: Sunday, Feb 10, 2013
Entry By: Palau Crew

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Water temp: 81º F
Air Temp: 83-88º F
Visibility: 60–110+ feet
Crew: Capt. Marc, Chef Cameron, Andy, Ben, Emma & Hector

A wonderful week of Palauan diving has dawned upon us.  The Palau Aggressor is happy to welcome onboard Christl, Beate, Nick, Andrew, Dom, Larry & Jerrol, Russel, Karin, Patricia, David & Darlynn, Marcus & Shirin, Francis, & Patrick. We set up our gear and enjoyed a delightful dinner followed by the safety orientation and were off to bed for a peaceful night’s rest.

A flat calm conditions inspired us to head out before daybreak and journey to Ulong Island to set the stage for a wonderful days diving. And that it was. For our first dive we splashed into Ulong Coral Gardens for a check out dive. This peaceful dive presented a colorful variety of beautiful corals. Massive tabletop corals stag horn corals and soft corals to name but a few. Scattered tropical fish complimented the colorful reef and amazing visibility made this dive almost surreal. Lunch fueled our bodies for Siaes Corner. This was our first taste of Palau’s famous hook in dive. With a mild current, we took our time hooking in. The conditions were perfect to practice our hooking skills. The edge of the wall was filled with anthias scattered as far as the eye could see. The schools were pulsating to the rhythm of the ocean. Sharks made an appearance, as did a large school of chevron barracuda.

After a quick snack it was time for Ulong Channel. The famous channel lived up to its reputation with plenty sharks cruising by the mouth of the channel as we anchored ourselves in with our reef hooks. The show was busy and once we saw 20 minutes of pelagic action it was time for a ride down the channel. We saw sleeping white tips in the sand and a hawksbill turtle swam by. The most prolific coral life in Palau was seen on the magical ride with tabletop corals galore and beautiful soft corals paving the way for us down the channel. Then we came across a massive patch of lettuce coral that was simply impressive followed by two beautifully set giant clams. We enjoyed the channel so much that we returned there for our next dive. During a delectable dinner, the Palau Aggressor made passage to Ngemelis Island.

The morning started with a trip over to Blue Corner. This amazing dive is like watching the National Geographic channel live. Initially a casual swim along the stunning wall as we headed toward the hook in area. Along the way the hustle and bustle of giant trevally, barracuda, snapper and pyramid butterfly fish made our heads spin. Then the inbound white tip sharks appeared followed by some large black tip reef sharks, both making extremely close passes. To take full advantage of the beauty of Blue Corner with its known current we anchored ourselves to the edge of the wall with our reef hooks. This quick and easy set-up allows us to effortlessly enjoy the magic that the current presents. Sharks, barracuda, turtles, trevally and various snapper love the nutrient rich flowing water and we are right in the middle of it. Then suddenly a napoleon wrasse makes an appearance. Very approachable, this affable wrasse with its puppy dog eyes makes its rounds to every one of us and made some new friends. Outstanding! Next we took a plunge into Ngemelis Wall. This shear wall looked like an artist pallet splashed with stunning color. The soft corals were painted with pastel pinks, purples, yellows and oranges. Sea fans that stretched out off the wall sheltered the stealthy long nose hawk fish.

Our next dive takes us to New Drop Off. This dive, considered a mini Blue Corner by some, offers fantastic pelagic action. On this occasion it was no different. We descended into a thick school of pyramid butterfly fish and patrolling reef sharks. We hooked in for a while and watched some reef sharks cruising by. We then unhooked and explored the plateau and came across a leaf scorpion fish, moray eel, coral crabs and two sleeping green turtles. Then a large school of blue lined snapper parted as we swam right through the middle of them on our way up to do our safety stop. A quick snack and we headed to German Channel. We started our dive at a beautiful pink anemone and then made our way to the cleaning station to see if any mantas would show up. It was not long before we spotted them above us feeding. Initially we saw only one, but when we moved closer to them it became clear that there were three! The manta rays performed a graceful manta ballet with barrel rolls being the dance of choice. With gaping mouths these majestic creatures would scoop up plankton while dancing for us, we thought. It is indescribable to imagine what is must be like to be completely surrounded by manta rays dancing all around you. This was a fantastic way to end the day.

A beautiful morning broke as the Palau Aggressor made passage over to Peleliu. We started our day exploring West Wall. Here the unmistakable yellow soft coral gets everyone’s attention. This stunning wall, which is very sheer, is filled with color and macro critters. A turtle causally swam by and hardly even noticed this gaggle of divers admiring him. Sharks cruised by us along the wall with pyramid butterfly fish and anthias scattered around us in the glistening sunrays. This was a thoroughly enjoyable dive.

We then decided to stretch our legs a bit and go on a Tour of Peleliu. This exceptionally interesting tour took us back to September 1944 when the US Marines stormed the beaches of Peleliu. Our guide James showed us the US & Japanese memorial, amtracks, guns, Orange Beach and the 1000 man caves. What a touching tour. After lunch it was time to dive again. Famous for it’s strong currents, Peleliu Corner is not for the faint hearted. We started the dive by cruising along the wall where we were at the mercy of the current and simply enjoyed the life that passed us by. Turtle and grey reef sharks seemed to be the main attraction with oriental sweetlips sheltering from the current inside lettuce coral. We then armed our reef hooks and hooked in for a little while to enjoy a more stationary view of the sharks. We hooked in and flew the Peleliu Express. Sharks made some rather close passes and then right in front of where we hooked in a juvenile emperor angel fish started flapping about uncontrollably in the current. What a great find. The remaining part of the dive was enjoyed drifting along the plateau.

Snack and hammock time was followed by a tranquil dive at Barrack’s Point. This must have been the best visibility of the week. Gin clear water with light rays streaming down was an amazing sight. The reef lit up and marine life was plentiful.

The Palau Aggressor then made passage back to Carp Island to dive Turtle Cove for our night dive. This dive produced such a variety of beautiful colors with many polyps out feeding. Basketstars and nudis were all out on the town. This ended another great day in Palau.

A beautiful morning broke and it was time for the famous Blue Corner. An encore dive at Blue Corner seemed appropriate and were we in for a treat. Similar action as before was enjoyed but it seemed obvious that the napoleon wrasse was the all time favorite. This lovely green fish with so much personality took all the attention and some great photos were taken. Back to Aggressor for some r & r and then the dive bell beckoned. Blue Holes was next. With beautiful visibility, Blue Holes provided a unique experience with four holes on top of the reef that all lead into one large chamber. From within the holes we looked up and enjoyed the sunrays breaking through the ceiling. Numerous photos were taken. We then exited the holes through a large exit and drifted with the current along a stunning wall toward Blue Corner. This gave us a taste of the famous corner with large schools of snapper, barracuda, sharks and giant trevally all out and about.

After a well-deserved snack we headed to Turtle Cove. This great dive was enjoyed by all with rich colors scattered along the wall. A few turtle came out to play with the plethora of fish scattered along the edge of the wall. The photographers found it hard to leave the kaleidoscope of colors beckoning for just one more photograph to be taken. After another sumptuous snack it was time for Big Drop Off. This stunning wall brought us some amazing soft corals and sea fans. Nudis and flatworms were strolling about the reef as the hustle and bustle of the streaming fusiliers buzzed by. What a great day!

A beautiful day broke over Carp Island. After a tasty breakfast the dive skiff headed back to German Channel. This time we were met by 3 mantas at the cleaning station. These graceful creatures flew over the cleaning station to get their full service spa. What a wonderful sight watching the gentle giants parade in front of us. We then made our way to the mouth of the channel to see the school of scad and snapper with sharks cruising around them before enjoying a casual ride down the channel. Next up was the Virgin Blue Hole. This lovely dive encompasses a chimney swim through and an enchanting wall with canyons and gullies that provide plenty exploring opportunities. Stunning visibility and a plethora of tropical fish made this an exceptional dive.

Next we explored Dexter’s Wall. This colorful wall houses soft coral and some macro critters such as nudis, flatworms and scorpion fish. This dive was a tranquil and relaxing dive. Lunch followed and then it was time to re-explore Blue Corner. Repeated by popular demand, this dive was enjoyed as much the second time around. After dinner we all enjoyed watching the wonderful week’s diving with our weekly video.

Another gorgeous morning broke and our adventure starts with the surreal experience of Jellyfish Lake. This stratified marine lake houses the unique non-stinging jellies. They were everywhere you looked and it felt like we were in another world as we snorkeled around these pulsating critters.

After getting our jellyfish fix we headed back to Koror and meandered through the rock islands and stopped at the famous archway for a photo shoot. Then back to diving. We decided to enjoy yet another different experience with Chandelier Caves. Only 18 feet deep or so this cave has four chambers that have air spaces where you can pop up and have a chat to your buddy or take some photos before continuing your dive. Exploring these caves was a wonderful way to end an already fantastic weeks diving in Palau.

We would like to congratulate Patricia, Marcus, Shirin, Russel and Jerrol for completing their Nitrox certifications! Also, David and Darlynn celebrated 20 happy years of marriage on the Palau Aggressor, Congrats!

So the week comes to a close. All of us here on the Palau Aggressor wish all our friends a safe trip home and a speedy return to eating, sleeping and diving the Aggressor way!

Capt. Marc