Shark Sanctuary shows us her true nature
Shark Sanctuary shows us her true nature
After a well-deserved rest the latest Palau Siren adventure got underway with easy dives at Teshio Maru and Jake’s Sea plane, followed by Chandelier Cave; an experience some feared but soon found it an easy and incredible experience, particularly turning off the lights and letting the sunlight be our guide! Whilst at the exit the mandarin fish happily popping up out of the corals. Our first dive day ended at the Helmet Wreck, the Japanese cargo ship sunk in March 1944.
The sun was not up yet when the Palau Siren moved to the Ulong area for our second day of the trip. When it did appear it turned hot fast as there was no wind at all and the ocean tides were playing their Palauan trick, so the dive plan had to be slightly adapted to Ulong Channel, where we ran into a gathering of grey reefs and whitetips, the sharks showed no interest in us and swam effortlessly all around us. Our second dive was a steady drift out of Siaes Tunnel, then a visit to the leaf scorpionfish and turtles at Sandy Paradise. 3rd day starts off right! German Channel was the first morning dive, mild current and a lone manta feeding while the sharks were swimming along the reef edge and as usual the amount of fish amazed everyone. Another favorite, Big Drop Off, was next and some of our extraordinarily lucky divers had a rare sighting of a tiger shark!! Wow that made the morning. New Drop Off had very little current but still showed a variety of marine life including many turtles, schoools of snapper & barracuda and ever present grey reefsharks always makes this dive a special one. For the night dive Big Drop off, a favourite for many dive guides, had our guests coming back with another smile on their faces as this wall really shows off all its color and is full of special critters during nighttime
On the menu for this day: Blue Corner, Fairyland, Turtle Cove and German Channel at night. On the Corner very mild current but again a big swell made the reef hooks optional. But what a dive, so much life as can be expected from one of the World’s best dive sites. Turtle Cove’s wall, with its soft coral and small overhangs is where marine life likes to hide but we had a surprise visitor: thanks to Jeanne’s eagle eyes watching in the blue, one lucky group saw the resident but rarely seen Leopardshark! German Channel at night brought luck to our divers. Cuttlefish, turtle, lobster, mantis shrimp and much more had us smiling all the way back to the Siren. Either that or it was because when the lights went out on the skiff, the guide found out he was covered in foto-iluminescence and glowed in the dark!
What had been a week with sun and almost no wind turned into 23 knot wind and rain. Not put off by this, the early morning dive was in German Channel and at least the marine life did its best to lift our spirits. Close encounters with mantas and sharks patrolling as well as being cleaned and swimming through schools of fish did the trick and all was good with the World again. Relaxing dives through the coral gardens of Virgin Wall and Barnum’s Wall rounded out the day and by popular demand the night dive was once again on German Channel where the guests got to see the ‘teapot’ (grand pleurobranchus)!
As we left the Palau Siren for JFL the sun was up, but the rain soon began. But don’t despair – repeat visitor to JFL declared it even better with the light rain than on a sunny day. First dive of the day was at Fern’s Wall where we spotted an eagle ray along with numerous turtles. As most of our guests on this trip are from the U.S. some chose to do the optional land-tour on Peleliu Island, the location of one of the bloodiest battles between the U.S. and Japan during WW II. The remaining guests went for their dive on Ngemelis Wall. Another Blue day as Blue Corner and Blue Holes were requested and as we lifted anchor to move back towards Ulong it would be the last time this trip we would visit these dive-sites that have delivered some amazing diving. But then Siaes Corner showed us the beginning of something special…the grey reef sharks had started to gather for their mating! More sharks will soon be on the way in this island nation sanctuary. Happy divers all round.
A dive at Sandy Paradise got our final day off to a great start as we witnessed the gathering of 50-80 Bumphead Parrot fish lumbering about the reef, resting and eating after the exertions of spawning! We repeated our Ulong Channel dive to drift through the channel past the world’s largest stand of lettuce coral being escorted the whole way by grey reef and white tips sharks- not a bad way to spend a morning. Then our final dive as upon us and we chose the wreck Iro Maru. This wrapped up a great trip with a fun-loving bunch of people. Many laughs at the antics of Paul and John throughout the trip!! Thanks for a great 10 days and hope to see you all again soon!