Photography in Palau
Photography in Palau
Australia landed in Koror in the early hours lead by Kevin Deacon for a photography cruise aboard the Palau Siren. After a rest the morning started with breakfast, paperwork and equipment set up, before one of my favorite wrecks, The Helmet, sank like most of the wrecks in Palau during operation Desecrate One in march 1944. She still offers many artifacts including helmets for which she is named, depth charges and sake bottles as well as signal gobies, shrimps, lionfish, nudibranchs. It was very low tide in Chandelier Cave, which gives a different perspective than in high tide, some formation are too high to see but other ones are revealed, the thrill comes when we swim out, just guided by the light which streams in from the outside. An easy night dive in St-cardinal’s Reef brought an end to this tiring day for our guests who all decided to get some rest early.
The crew woke up with the rain but when guests came up, the sun was up too, ready to start a long day of diving at the Iro Maru; a Japanese oiler and supply ship, first hit by a torpedo in march 1944. The juvenile harlequin sweetlips is growing and changing its patterns, pipefish always try to hide from us and the school of big eye jacks was surprisingly on the deck. Second morning dive in Buoy 6 woke us up with a ripping current, but the small wreck covered with amazing soft corals gave a little rest for a Palauan dive. Wreck divers were served with Chuyo Maru its flabellinas, lionfish, pop-corn shrimps and two squids on the way down and up the line, perfect models. One of our guests’ favorite dive was the night dive in Sam’s Wall with the mating mandarin fish, ringed pipefish, tiny cuttlefish and the still unidentified weird crab covered with leafs and trash.
While the guest were still asleep, the Palau Siren sailed towards Ulong Island, as they woke up, the sun was already shinning; the sign of a promising day. Ulong Channel was first up with an eagle ray in the shallow waters on the way to the site whilst underwater sharks, bumpheads and a very curious tuna paraded along the reef with the current nice and gentle to allow our divers their first hooking! Perfect dive but it was just the beginning. Siaes Corner amazed us all with 35m visibility and the first turtles of the trip. Then Emma, who was making her 200th dive, wanted to see something very special, the choice was easy and the plan changed… Siaes Tunnel it was to see our recent discovery the beautiful Harlequin Shrimp eating a starfish. Most of the divers had never seen one before, including Nick our guide freshly returned from holidays, and everyone was super happy! Smiles on our diver’s faces are the greatest reward. To add a little excitement, three musketeers went night diving with the sharks in Ulong Corner to round off a superb day.
At Sandy Paradise the leaf scorpionfish were out and well exposed for the photographers, grey reef sharks were hunting trevallies and a large school of barracudas swam along with us for most of the dive… A good start before sailing towards 2 Dogs Beach, close to Ngemelis Island and its wonderful Blue Corner. The current was switching like it does on half-moon, but sharks, bumpheads, barracudas, big eye trevallies and my favorite Pedro, the Napoleon wrasse, as well as the precautious Big Daddy (called Haba by others) were all at the rendezvous. After lunch we went to New Drop Off and it was another festival of black-tip, white-tip and grey reef sharks and Betty the turtle with her friends. Only three ladies signed up for the night dive and Girl Power paid off, leaf scorpionfish, spearing mantis shrimp and sleeping Napoleon wrasse to name only a few before we ascended to the sound of the jungle and a starry sky… Quoting one of my guest “My best night dive ever”… After dinner, we showed a documentary on Peleliu.
The sea was like glass when the sun slowly rose on the Rock Islands… And the Blue Holes were ours, we slowly dropped down, a white-tip shark was lying down the bottom of the entrance, after photographing every corner we gently swam towards Blue Corner, Pedro played with us whilst the sharks played with the jacks. Visibility in German Channel was exceptional with a school of snapper circling around followed by one of surgeonfish creates a beautiful ballet that sometimes gets troubled by a couple of hunting giant trevallies, with sharks being the supporting cast. An early lunch was had to give extra time for a Peleliu land tour, following the path of history. We then had another “ladies only dive”, in the amazing coral garden, Orange Beach, where a very cooperative giant cuttlefish played the model. After a snack, we had had for a fantastic twilight Blue Corner dive, ending it circled by three grey reef sharks as sun was setting. The ride back with the sunset sky added to the magic of the day.
Last day of diving started with again ideal conditions. Silky sea, sunshine, happy people and a magic dive on Dexter’s Wall with at least 40 green and hawksbill turtles, I stopped counting at some point. Then the Palau Siren slowly sailed back to Koror, dropping us on the way for the famous nautilus dive, 10 Nautilus for 10 people… Two wrecks for the afternoon, the Teshio Maru and Jake’s seaplane And a last dusk dive at Sam’s Wall to see the mandarin fish followed by a BBQ on board rounded off the diving. The last morning we made a Rock Island tour with the boat to see the Arch before snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake to get the thrill of swimming peacefully with jellyfish and a little tour in the rejuvenating Milky Way… We then had a little screening of the best pictures before departing. Thank you team Australia for a lovely week!