Whale of a time on Palau Siren…
Whale of a time on Palau Siren…
We had the pleasure to welcome aboard guests from both sides of the Atlantic for our latest adventure in Palau and even though a ‘sleep-in’ was offered most were up early and preparing their dive equipment. Our first plunge into the water started with the Teshio Maru and Jake seaplane, a perfect site to refresh skills. The next dive was planned for Sandy Paradise so we weighed anchor and moved towards Ulong Island. The visibility was not so good, but the number of sharks and reef fish more than compensated.
Day two and again no ‘lay-in’ for our divers, as they woke early, eager for the day’s diving, whilst we headed for Ulong Channel. The current was running in reverse, so we jumped into the lagoon and drifted over the coral garden, and past the largest lettuce coral (Pectinia lactuca) in the world. Breakfast beckoned as we headed to Siaes tunnel, where we found decorated dartfish, green sea turtle, notodoris serenea, grey reef sharks and harlequin sweetlips.
We pulled up the anchor and motored to Two Dogs Island to commence our third day of diving, which was packed full with mantas and sharks, plus a longnosed unicornfish in German Channel. New Drop Off and Big drop off followed with an abundant array of schooling fish, sharks, crustaceans and macro-critters present.
The following day we were greeted with strong winds and choppy seas as we made our way to Blue Corner. On arrival we found ourselves in the midst of schooling trevally, masses of grey reef and white tip sharks, plus midnight and black snappers. After an awesome dive we had Diana’s favorite meal of the day, ‘Big Breakfast’! Dive two took us into a small cavern at Turtle Cove, which lived up to its name with green and hawksbill turtle spotted.
That evening barber clippers were pulled out and one of the guests, Shannon, cut all of my ‘lovely blonde’ hair – my head seems rounder than ever! In return, he received a ‘Mohawk’, though he certainly ‘rocked it’ throughout the rest of the trip.
Over the next couple days we found ourselves diving between the Blue Corner and the German channel, constantly being surrounded by masses of fish – fantastic! A solitary Napoleon wrasse also managed to join us on each dive and hung around on a very relentless basis. Every dive we did in the German Channel was a blast, grey reef sharks in every direction, and more and more fish. I even found a small robust ghost pipefish, which I thought was cooler than the mantas at the time, since I haven’t seen one in almost 9 months!
We took the guests to the famous Blue Holes for an absolutely stunning dive. The sky was clear and the sun was shining bright, giving us excellent ‘light-play’ coming through the some 24 meters( 85ft) above. In the back of the holes, towards the Temple of Doom, we found two baby white tip sharks swimming around in circles under a small dark ledge. That evening the group opted to skip the night dive and hit the beach instead. The drinks were flowing faster than the light breeze, giving the guests the opportunity to laugh at my failed attempts to fly a $10 kite I had picked up just before the cruise commenced. We then sat on the beach and just appreciated the sun and its colors, as it dropped over the horizon – beautiful!
Virgin Blue Hole, scheduled for dive one for the next day is a massive tunnel, dropping some 30 meters(100ft) from the reef to another huge 40-meter long swim-through, then it leads back to the wall. Shannon, a.k.a. Mr. Mohawk, tried his best to navigate another, smaller swim-through, only to get stuck and cause the rest of us to flood our masks from laughing so hard! We did the night dive at Turtle Cove planned for 45 minutes dive, which turned into an hour, but given a choice it could have lasted all night. This was after spending most of the day’s diving exploring Black Water in search of the bizarre flying squid. Successful in our endeavor, they at one point had us surrounded, shooting ink in every direction – awesome!
The last two days of the trip we checked out the wonder that is Jellyfish Lake! No diving trip to Palau is complete without a visit. The lake, filled with millions of the mastigias papua etpisoni, is truly a natural wonder. Afterwards, we were on our way to Short Drop Off, near Malakal Harbor, for the nautilus dive, when a pod of pilot whales on the surface, literally stopped us in our tracks.
After sitting, watching in awe of the whales, we finally got ourselves back into the blue for the much anticipated nautilus dive, which were present together crocodile fish, a squat lobster and crinoid shrimp, oriental sweetlips to name but a few of the delights observed. That evening we finished up this great trip with a tasty BBQ grilled by our extremely talented chef, Andre.
I, personally, had a fantastic trip with this wonderful group of divers and hope to see them again on the Palau Siren, sooner, rather than later!