Lessons to be learned-Death in Palau

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Fort Lauderdale
# of dives
I just don't log dives
So I literally just got done diving Peleliu Cut today and pretty much instantly Googled "scuba deaths in Palau" after experiencing it...this thread was the first result. I am here to report not much has changed, except there is coral up there now! Nice coral both hard and soft. I suppose it has been around for 500 million years for a reason.

I am also aware this 54 page thread started in 2003 since I read every single post in it!

Personally I was completely obsessed with the schools of Blue Hippo Tangs (Paracanthurus hepatus) living up on that crazy plateau in Acropora and Porites colonies that somehow managed to settle and grow there and was not impressed by the baby sharks since I am from South Florida... but I did watch OW divers with < 20 dives bobbing around like balloons with bubbles coming off horizontally and could only think they were going to break free and go flying to the surface.

What really got me with this story is I had found a reasonably sheltered spot behind a rock to try and shoot at least one school of juvi tangs (most had way too much current to keep my rig steady enough) when I noticed a diver had hooked in right in next to me, presumably because I looked like I might be helpful if something went south. Her buddy was no where to be seen. Thankfully she had her fins and mask and handled the dive very well. It never occurred to me a situation like the one in this thread could even happen! I was thinking a ride to Philippines or the chamber at best. I've never seen people tie a reef hook to their BC before and I have never seen people with little to no experience try and dive 2 knot or so current before. Crazy, IMHO. Only "shooting the pass" in Rangiroa with no redundant air supply is more insane I'm thinking.

I put together a small video for the benefit of people that will continue to find this thread forever and anyone that participated in it that may still be around SB. Hopefully it will embed properly. I did enjoy the dive even if I was really scared for many of the other divers knowing there was almost nothing anyone could do for them but pray. If you want big stuff I suggest FP. Maybe we just had a bad day because of the full moon.



Scuba Instructor
Reaction score
New York, NY
# of dives
200 - 499
A free flowing reg is nice to be able to anticipate also :wink: (turn your head change the direction of flow, blow, etc)

Also jumping onto this very old thread, I hooked onto Peleliu Corner a few times in strong current and I would suggest that turning your head is not the correct decision, since it would present the edge of the mask to the current and increase the chance of it being swept off. I tried to keep my head straight into the current and put one hand over the front of the reg to stop the free flow caused by the water pressing on the button. I also put my hand over my mask whenever I wanted to turn my head. My second trip to Palau, the site was so bathwater calm that it didn't even feel like the same place and there was certainly no need for hooks.

Also, the initial description of the incident (I haven't read the 53 pages of this thread) says that they were hooking in about 40 feet down on the plateau at Peleliu Corner. I just looked at my old dive logs and they indicate I hooked at 70'. Given the topography of the site, I don't understand how it would be possible to hook in much shallower.


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Wellington, New Zealand
# of dives
200 - 499
I've learned a LOT from this old thread too.

I've got no high-current experience but based on the way a dpv makes my second reg free-flow that'll now be the first thing I think of, followed closely by the possibility of losing my mask turning my head.

I never considered the full implication of a missing or ill-fitting mask - when I go a bit deep or penetrate a long way I always use the short hose with necklace so worst case the reg is still in my mouth if I tox or pass out from seeing a terrifying fish or something, but I never considered til now that this only works if my mask is on properly... oops.

There's a ton of stuff to be learned from these threads, think I'll start searching through them (but not commenting on every one, don't worry lol)

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