Dive Combo Part II
Bluewater Photo Dive Combo Part II
Our new divers joined us after a week on the Philippine Siren, their plane landing at 01:15am; everyone was on board by 2.30am ready to settle in to the second leg of their Bluewater Photo Philippines-Palau combination trip, this time hosted by underwater photographer Todd Winner. They all voted to sleep in a little in the morning so breakfast was at 8 followed by the boat briefing and muster drill. By 10.30 we were ready for our first and easy dive on the Teshio Maru; a japanese oil tanker covered with corals, flabellina, shrimps and other kind of critters. Chandelier Cave was next on the agenda with guides posing for photos and some stunning over/under shots being taken. In the afternoon, Captain Vicoy lifted the anchor and the Palau Siren slowly sailed to Ulong Island for our final dive at Sand Bar, shrimps and nudibranchs played the still models, but sadly Jacques our friendly frogfish was not to be found this evening. After dinner, all the photographers either took care of their cameras or worked on their photos, slowly everyone drifted off to bed dreaming of the next diving day..
The Palau Siren guests slowly awoke hoping for an intense day of diving. With the full moon approaching we hoped for strong currents and plenty more action. The ride to Shark City was escorted by a pod of dolphins whilst on the dive several white tips circled around us as we drifted gently along the wall. A couple of bumpheads showed their teeth and we saw the red snapper aggregating by the end of the dive. During our third dive briefing it was stated that Ulong Channel is one of two favorite dive sites in Palau and after the dive everyone understood why. Ripping current on the hooking spot, where we stayed more than half an hour, the grey reef sharks kept coming over and over again, closer…and in the middle of the mouth of the channel a massive school of black snapper, it was hard to decide in which direction to look. Meanwhile in the sand a juvenile peacock razorfish was spotted. The drift in the channel quickly took us to the lettuce coral formation considered by National Geographics as the largest in the world. A beautiful Ulong made happy photographers… Dive day two was rounded off with our little “specialty” diving with sharks at night at Ulong Corner/Channel./ Looking for small things you suddenly see some white eyes coming towards you and then the distinctive shape of a reef shark; fascinating and eerie. In the evening, Todd gave a lecture on how to use Lightroom and the divers set to work with their new editing techniques.
Time flies when you are having fun and we were already halfway to the trip… No wind, glorious sunshine and amazing visibility during our dive at Sandy Paradise and indeed it was paradise… Macro, wild angle, every photograpoher or diver would find its happiness. Adult grey reef sharks welcomed us, a school of barracudas, clouds of glass fish and a yellow scorpionfish and a black leaf fish were amongst the other site highlights. You know you had a great dive when you don’t want to come up that was everybody’s feeling for our first morning dive… The second was the same after New Drop Off, a good current brought the shark action we were hoping for, grey reefs cruising in the blue, white-tip hunting in the corals, school of barracudas and the famous green turtle Betty (we named it this way), the sweetest one around, very diver friendly. After 2 excellent morning dives, the bar for the rest of the day was set high.. But of course Blue Corner fulfilled our hopes providing many grey reef and white-tip sharks, schools of black snappers, barracudas and the Napoleon wrasse. The day is not yet over that everyone is already dreaming of tomorrow..
The Gods of Peleliu heard the photographer’s wishes and after a pleasant ride around the rock islands, we arrived in Jellyfish Lake were we stayed for two hours, much longer than usual, to allow our budding photographers plenty of opportunity to get some amazing shots but most of them still didn’t want to get out! But more diving was on the cards- this time at Blue Holes, where some of our divers choose to spent 30 minutes inside…Playing with the light, adjusting their strobes, taking other divers’ silhouettes. Unexpectedly, one Napoleon wrasse came in the hole and played with us. Back on the boat, we looked for a floating coconut with a leaf, Todd’s new game, so the group could take split pictures on the surface with it.
Dexter’s Wall, an ideal place to see turtles was our next dive, as we drifted closer to Blue Corner a school of humpback snappers, two map puffer fish, a school of black snappers congregated and the shark show started; a mellow easy dive that ended up with a lot of action and current… Only four adventurous went for the amazing Big Drop Off night dive, one of our must do…
In the evening, wind slowly got stronger and rain started, the morning was worse, therefore we had to adapt our plan and dive the east side of Peleliu which was calmer than the West. Five guests had choosen to make the land tour instead of diving. The rest of the day was spent at Turtle Cove and Muchacha, but as the wind and rain continued we decided to cruise back to safer overnight spot close to Koror. The night dive was the much anticipated mandarin fish dive at Sam’s Wall.
Last day of diving we went back to Iro Maru where visibility was the best we ever had, the school of big eyes made the show for the wide angle photographers.. Then we headed to Short Drop Off for our Nautilus dive, these are one of the weirdest creatures around, everyone shared them for an hour… Then for our final dive of the day we opted to return to the stunning Chandelier Cave – staying for 2 hours in the very shallow cave system. Off-gassing during our last day aboard the guests relaxed, read, edited photos, packed their extensive gear or went for some last minute snorkeling; a superb end to a photo intensive and wonderful trip. Thanks for joining us!