Wrecks, Hunting Sharks and Wishes Come True
Wrecks, Hunting Sharks and Wishes Come True
Our first day of diving aboard the Palau Siren started by the amazing wreck Teshio Maru and the divers were happy to use their cameras photographing the wreck’s structure of the ship as well as the nudibranchs and juvenile trigger fish we found. This perfect check dive was followed by a well deserved breakfast as the Palau Siren liveaboard cruised to Ulong Island where we would spend the next two days exploring the reefs and relishing the amazing marine life.
The currents were acting up and not in conjunction with our tide charts, but that in no way detracted from our enjoyment. The highlight of the day was had at Ulong Channel, where after the usual grey reef sharks and white-tips parading in front of us along with the high number of bumpheads we were surprised to see a large aggregation of grouper; each facing the other in defying position, hovering…then spawning. The day rounded off with a night dive at Sandbar spotting once again our warty frogfish and numerous cowries and a very happy 22nd birthday for Joe celebrated with a delicious cake baked by our famous chef Andri. For the following day we opted to return to Ulong Channel and were happily greeted once again by the bumpheads and the brown marbled, orange spotted and malabar groupers. Getting an even better look this time around at the aggregation whilst a solitary grey reef shark came to check out our diving group and show off its grace. Dives at Siaes Corner and Siaes Tunnel were to follow but everyday has its highlight and for us on the Palau Siren that was our night dive at Ulong Corner. Grey reef and white tip sharks were found hunting amongst the table corals, using our lights to spot their prey they get very close to the divers! Richard, a marine biologist who was on the boat for a few days with us, was screaming into his regulator, was this excitement? Maybe a bit of fear?? This dive is such a unique experience providing a mix of emotions; fear, fascination, joy… Richard said it was the best dive night dive of his life and after 7 years of diving in Palau, we were proud to bring this discovery to him.
All this excitement and we’re only on day 3! Bumpheads spawning on the first dive, was quickly superseded by our dive at Blue Corner where two massive schools of blacktail snappers hung gently above the reef. We stopped counting the turtles as there was so many of them and we even found a leopard shark lying peacefully on the bottom. Of course our friendly Napoleon wrasse were there, “Big Daddy” the largest of the three, always stays at a safe distance but another one was being very playful today; trying to bite one of our guides’ SMB…
After an easy dive in Blue Corner with a very light current, while guests were having breakfast, the Palau Siren sailed south to go around Peleliu Island. The sun was shining the sea was calm, allowing for a relaxing trip enjoying the scenery, sunbathing, sleeping, or playing fish ID. Every diver who comes to Palau wishes to dive the legendary German Channel, with the secret desire of seeing manta rays. Sometimes though it’s a matter of luck and people have often left Palau without a sighting- vowing to return for another try. But we have always been lucky on the liveaboard and our guests enjoyed diving with two beautiful “big birds” along with sightings of two feathertail stingrays and 2 leaf fish. Noah’s Ark??
Palau has very green islands and it seems the sky had decided to shower the garden and us on the 5th day but of course a few drop of water are not enough to stop real divers! The overcast sky left Blues Holes darker than usual but lightened by the disco clams and two juvenile white tips at the entrance. As we drifted along the reef wall to Blue Corner, more sharks were spotted and a green turtle was nicely hidden under a big rock on a plateau, but not well enough for us not to spot her! The rest of the day brought its share of school of big eye jacks, great barracudas, red snappers. A rainy day turned into a happy day, that is the magic of diving. Sunshine came back the following morning and brought with it dolphins! We could hear them on our dive but it wasn’t until we surfaced that we saw them, despite the 30m (100ft) Viz. One of the divers requested to see a cuttlefish and of course his wish was granted with the critter being kind enough to let him shoot all the videos he wanted. Virgin Blue Holes, a vertical descent followed by a horizontal exit, was to be our first dive the next day with sightings of 20 bumpheads cruising along the wall, grey reef shark, dragonets and a crocodile fish played the perfect still mannequin for everyone’s pleasure. Returning to Blue Corner was once again a big hit with sharks, turtles and the Napoleon wrasses showing off in front of the photographers. But our favourite spots had been at Ulong so we decided to return there for even more shark action, though our shark night dive turned into more of a manta dive as 15 mantas flew above the heads of some of our divers… Once again the spell of the sea…
Ulong Channel, like all the dive sites can be done a thousand times and will always be different, a slightly incoming tide slowly pushed us inside, surrounded by huge groupers, garden eels on the sand, different flatworms and nudibranchs as well as unidentified dragonets. All the big eyes and squirrel fishes were hovering just outside the lettuce coral formation, said to be the biggest in the world. Some had fun having a manicure with cleaner shrimps in Sandy Paradise and a funny moment was shared as 3 eagle rays made a fly-by. An exciting day rounded off with a night dive at Sam’s Wall with Mandarin fish dancing, agitated juvenile sweetlips, hingebeak shrimps and pipefish.
For our final day of this liveaboard safari, we started with a wreck dive at the Chuyo Maru; a Japanese ship like most of the wrecks around Palau. Going down, we found a tiny flabellina on the line, many lionfish gathered at the stern and a big yellow boxfish with all kinds of shrimps hiding amidst the corals. The divers then had the pleasure of seeing Nautilus for the first time, spending an hour playing with 12 of them before we release them back to the deep… We closed the diving trip off at Chandelier Cave, for the eerie feeling of being in the cave surrounded by stalagtites, but with the huge opening and plenty of natural light it’s a stunning dive not to be missed. As usual, Andri and Serge took care of the BBQ for our last party night, our guests could now leave with maybe a few extra pounds of weight but most of all with gigabites of photographs, videos and most of all, unique memories.