Marc's Public Blog - Diving


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This is a collection of my blog entries and experiences with diving.
You can find all the pictures I've taken here, and read below for recountings of my more recent trips:

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2019/11/08 Diving with Palau Siren
π 2019-11-08 01:01 in Diving
Palau was one of the major diving destinations that we hadn't hit yet, so it was time to fix that. We found an 11 day tour on the Siren where a group of Russians booked the boat, but ended up having an unused cabin, which worked great for us (all trips of more than 7 days were otherwise full when I looked). As a special bonus, they wanted to start one day early, so we ended up with an extra day on the boat (11 days instead of 10).
The day prior, we did a kayak/snorkling tour with Sam's Tour.
After the boat, we did a Palau land tour, also with Sam's tour

We were familiar with the boat as it was mostly identical to the siren we took in the Philipines. It's a nice and spacious boat, but has a moronic design where the saloon roof is so low that it's mostly impossible to spend a whole trip without hitting your head badly on it. I did so in the previous trip, and after 9 days of avoiding hitting my head, it happened again on this boat too. If only I could have 2 words with the lovely person who thought it made any sense to build a boat that way...

Anyway, while the boat is not as big or nice as the now defunct Waow, it comes as a close second. The staff was fantastic and the boat amenities were good, Even if we got the smaller cabin #1, it was still bigger than at least a portion of the dive boats out there.




The Siren was a bit unusual in Palau as the seafloor was such that the boat could not anchor close to the dive sites (either it was way too low, or too high for the boat, making it likely to hit coral). This did translate into sometimes long skiff rides (15mn was typical, with a few that were 20 to 25mn). I was not a big fan of that as we spent many hours on those skiffs over the 10 days, but it was unavoidable for that boat and location. On the plus side, some of the skiff rides were scenic and the skiff divers were good:


they were well equipped, better than my handheld garmin I logged all the dives with :)
they were well equipped, better than my handheld garmin I logged all the dives with :)

For diving, I had my trusty RX100M5, but found out with great chagrin that the CCD on the camera had been damaged by lasers in Prague and now had visible purple dots on all my pictures. Because I like to be ready for failures, I had just bought a diving case for my RX100M6, but it was a terrible case with so many problems, and to make things worse, my RX100M6 grew a fault where its lens could not retract anymore without my pushing it. So, I had to turn the camera on on the boat, close the case, and make sure to keep the camera awake so that its 30mn shutdown timeout didn't trigger. If anything went wrong, the camera stopped working for the rest of the dive, so I ended up diving with both cameras with an this self built setup (yeah for zipties). When the camera with a non damaged CCD but damaged retraction mechanism, failed under water, I switched to the 2nd camera that took pictures with some purple artifacts on them (better than no pictures at all):


Anyway, let's look at the diving pictures:

first day was a wreck dive in murky water
first day was a wreck dive in murky water

Day 2, we stayed in the lagoon, due to bad weather and dived more wrecks:



And finally we were able to navigate to the south/west area where most of the nicer dive sites are located and the water wasn't as murky:



But rain didn't stop and hit us randomly most days, it was the first time I got to see such hard rain on the surface from underwater:


Sires Tunnel was a cool dive, especially as I like caverns:











we found a nice leopard shark down at 45m
we found a nice leopard shark down at 45m


While Yap is supposed to be known for mantas, Palau's German channel has mantas, although we only had good conditions one dive, the other dive had horrible visibility:





lots of other fish
lots of other fish


red snappers eat plancton just like the mantas
red snappers eat plancton just like the mantas


They have a local friendly napoleon fish, called Al:



Other nice fish could be found, and of course plenty of sharks:


beautiful Orang Outang crab
beautiful Orang Outang crab


Blue holes had fish swimming upside down in the cave, as they often do
Blue holes had fish swimming upside down in the cave, as they often do


Blue holes also had a huge barracuda
Blue holes also had a huge barracuda





always nice to see an octopus hunting for food
always nice to see an octopus hunting for food

this is how it tastes rocks for good, also amazing to see how stretchy that 'skin', is
this is how it tastes rocks for good, also amazing to see how stretchy that 'skin', is


I think that was a leopard shark I found sleeping under a rock
I think that was a leopard shark I found sleeping under a rock

German Channel had something I had never seen before: gobis that were looking out for 2 shrimps that worked together:



Another unusual thing we saw was a shark missing its top fin:


The area had lots of holes and caves, and my favourite was likely Virgin Blue Hole:





Jennifer found a fire coral in there
Jennifer found a fire coral in there

deep holes that you could explore
deep holes that you could explore

nice crocodile fish
nice crocodile fish



nice school of humphead parrotfish
nice school of humphead parrotfish



Al came back to see us
Al came back to see us


The last day of diving, we went to Jellyfish Lake for a snorkel (you can't dive there as the water below 15 meters is quite dangerous to living organisms, but it's perfectly safe at the surface. The many jellyfish are non poisonous as they have lost the ability to sting because they have no predators (the lake is separated from the ocean by porous rock, which allows water through, but no organisms). It was super cool to play with the pretty jellyfishes:

we got dropped off
we got dropped off

short hike to the lake
short hike to the lake

and then time to get in the water
and then time to get in the water






that is the 2nd kind of jellies you find in the lake (much less common)
that is the 2nd kind of jellies you find in the lake (much less common)

there are a few other fishes in that lake
there are a few other fishes in that lake

and I found this single invasive crab
and I found this single invasive crab

A few videos of fish:

Giant humphead parrotfish:

Back in the Korror lagoon, we did a wreck dive (Ijn Iro), but the water quality was pretty terrible:





top mast
top mast

Our last dive of the trip was Chandellier Cave, which was 5 different caves you could get to with short dives:








Outside the cave, we found a rare (for the area) sea snake, and nice mandarin fish:




We also did a fair amount of night dives and got lucky on some of them:



lots of plancton
lots of plancton



This squid was a lucky find, it stuck with me because it loved my light and used it for hunting:


Normally squids run way like this:

biggest nudis ever
biggest nudis ever

interesting shrimp with long arms
interesting shrimp with long arms


manta shrimp that dug itself in the ground
manta shrimp that dug itself in the ground


Basket star, a very interesting organism:

Dmitry who oragnized the trip for the Russian group, nicely lent us discreet blue lights that show off some proteins at night. Very cool to see with that:



lots of baby manta shrimps liked my light
lots of baby manta shrimps liked my light

found more squids, but those didn't like my light and swam off
found more squids, but those didn't like my light and swam off

Of course, we did a lot of diving (32 dives out of a possible 34 if we had missed a couple of land excursions), and the main land excursion was Peleliu.
The land tour in Peleliu where US Marines landed to kick out the Japanese that were there. Sadly they were well equipped and fought to the last one, infliciting significant losses to the US. Taking the place over too 74 days instead of the planned 4 days. The island has left over Japanese buildings, tanks, and amphibious vehicles for the beach landing:


found a nice hermit crab on the beach
found a nice hermit crab on the beach

also, plenty of small ones
also, plenty of small ones

runway that the americans wanted to capture
runway that the americans wanted to capture



lots of crickets in the caves
lots of crickets in the caves









thousand man cave was last on our tour
thousand man cave was last on our tour

they drunk lots of beer
they drunk lots of beer

lots of bats live in there, now
lots of bats live in there, now


one of the caves' exits
one of the caves' exits

That evening, we also had fun on a nearby island we got dropped off at one evening:



easier to take pictures of the moon when not on a moving boat
easier to take pictures of the moon when not on a moving boat

One of our last days in the area, we had a nice BBQ on the small island:



Thanks to the nice Russian group that we shared the boat with, it was nice to chat with them and learn more about Russia. They were also all good divers, so it was a great to dive with them:





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