Tropic Dancer Captain's Logs

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Captain's Log - Tropic Dancer
Log Date: Sat 2 June, 2012
Location: Palau
Entry By:
Tropic Dancer Crew
May 26 - June 2, 2012
For our latest charter we welcomed group leader Mikhail and thirteen of his friends from the Moscow and St Petersburg area of Russia. We departed the dock early on Saturday afternoon and did our check out dive on the Helmet wreck in Malakal harbor. It was Maxims and Lenaras first even dive in the ocean and they had a great time by the look on their faces after the dive. During the evening we steamed over to our German channel mooring where we spent the night.
Our first dive on Sunday was a trip over to German channel, we saw our first white tip sharks of the week and a large stingray cruised through the group, towards the end of the dive we were lucky to see a Manta ray being cleaned on the cleaning station. Next up was a nice wall dive at big drop off, this wall is covered in many soft corals and massive sea fans, the top of the reef is full of beautiful small reef fish like the Regal angel fish and the Pyramid butterfly fish. After lunch we briefed on the use of reef hooks and headed out to New drop off and tried out our new skills with the hook, we saw a few white tip sharks and a nice school of barracuda. Our last dive of the day was at Negdebus coral garden where we saw a couple of nice cuttlefish who flashed us with their brilliant color changes.
Monday morning started bright and early at the world famous Blue corner, this dive site totally dazzled our guests with a quite amazing array of marine life from huge grey reef sharks, massive schools of Black snapper, Giant trevely and stripped jacks, the reef plateau is full of moray eels, grouper and barracuda, as always we were joined by our friendly family of Napoleon wrasse who always but a great show for our guests. In the afternoon we did the dive next door to blue corner which is blue holes, this spectacular cavern is a dive not to be missed and is home to the famous disco clams which give out an electric blue flash if you shine a light on them.
We hit German channel on Tuesday and again we saw a couple of manta rays which is always a nice way to start the day. We hooked into blue corner next and was treated to a nice current which enabled us to use our reef hooks, everybody had a great interaction with a really friendly Hawksbill turtle who decided to take his breakfast with us. We stormed the beaches of Peleliu in the afternoon and had a few hours exploring the WW2 sights with tour guide Tanji. Our diving continued in the late afternoon at German channel coral garden.
Wednesday morning began at the Blue holes and everybody enjoyed the amazing cavern dive, we moved to Negerchong island next and had a couple of really great dives on the inside and outside of the island. We found an excellent array of marine life including a bunch of cuttlefish, pipefish and some octopus hiding in the reef. We visited Jelly fish lake in the afternoon and enjoyed a very nice snorkel with the millions of Jelly fish that reside here.
We headed east to Ulong island at first light on Thursday morning with Siaes tunnel being our first dive of the day, next up was block rocking Ulong channel where we saw many sharks in the mouth of the channel and admired the wonderful formation of the cabbage corals. The afternoon was spent at Siaes corner and sandy paradise where we had a very friendly Marble ray who did a lap of honor around our guests. We headed to Shark city on our last day of diving, and also made a return trip to Ulong channel, our last dive of the week was at the majestic chandelier caves which is a perfect way to end a hectic fantastic week on the Tropic dancer.
The crew would like to thank Mikhail, Olesia, Alisa, Vivo, Lenara, Maxim, Irina, Sergey, Daria, Sergey, Victoria, Yuri, Anton and Alexander for coming to see us in Palau this week. Special words to go to Daria who at only twelve has already hit 50 dives so well done to you. Also well done to maxim and Lenara who came to Palau with no ocean dives but now leave as expert divers.
Written by
Kris Mears
 

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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report July 8 – 15, 2012

Our guests this week were Kim, Jon, Anja, Bobby, Peter, Kristen, Cindy, Martha, Peter, Dermot, Georg, Marsha, Angela, Chris, Jim and Eric.



Anja and Georg enjoyed our initial dives at the Helmet Wreck, following the Iro Maru. They’re two large tankers bearing evidence of Palau’s connection to World War II. It’s a chapter in history that is rarely told. Few visitors to the islands have little knowledge of the battles that took place in this area. Later that evening we made our debut dive upon the outside reef at Palau’s most famous wall dive Big Drop Off.

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Midway through the week we were graced with a beautiful day within the area of Peleliu. West Wall was dubbed the best dive so far up until Thursday afternoon at New Drop Off. Peter, Kim, and Eric told me of their adventure upon this plateau. Even after diving Palau’s famous Blue Corner, they still claim that New Drop Off was the best. Some dive operations call this site a “Mini Blue Corner”. You can find every kind of creature in New Drop Off as you would at Blue Corner. On this given day however, we all found that and so much more. Peacock flounders dwelled in the sand; leaf scorpion fish cleverly camouflaged themselves in surrounding foliage; and the main attraction was royal rumble of two octopus fighting for their territory.


The final manta ray count came to a total of five mantas this week - two upon our first dive within German Channel, and a playful group of three during our encore presentation on Thursday.



Clear skies and calm waters made this week a most pleasurable one. From Peleliu to Ulong Island, we all got to enjoy the very most of what Palau has to offer.





2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Captain Andrew

Crew: Captain Ike, 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Captain Andrew, Photo Pro Ben, Video Pro Nadia, Instructor Jim, Chef Cameron and Stewardess Len.
 

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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report August 12 – 19, 2012

Air/Water Temp: 31/28C
Visibility: Good
Topside Conditions: Mostly calm
Sea Surface: Slight swells

Hello everybody, our latest charter on the Tropic Dancer had a very European feel to it with the majority of our guests coming from Switzerland, Italy, Spain and the UK. We also had a couple from the States and we welcomed Jake who came to us on the “Oceans For Youth” project.

After setting up all our dive gear and enjoying a lovely dinner prepared by chef Andy everybody settled down to the Captain’s Briefing before it was lights out and an early night in preparation for our first day’s diving in the morning.

We began diving in Malakal Harbor and a nice easy dive on the Helmet Wreck. We saw many artifacts from World War II including Japanese helmets, rifles, and gas masks. We continued with another wreck for our second dive, which was the Chuyo Maru. There was some lionfish to be seen and a tiny juvenile squid was swimming next to the mooring line. We moved the mother ship over to our German Channel mooring which opens up some of the best diving in the world. As we had a nice in coming current we went to German Channel and were happy to see two manta rays near the cleaning station. We also saw a huge school of scad, which was being harassed by grey reef sharks, groupers and Napoleon wrasse.

Tuesday morning started at the five star rated Blue Corner. We hooked into the reef and watched in sheer amazement as bunches of sharks cruised by without a care in the world. There were also huge schools of barracuda and black snapper that added another dimension to one of the best dive shows in the world. Our friendly Napoleon wrasse also stopped by to play around with our guests; much to their amusement. We then enjoyed a couple of fantastic wall dives at Ngemelis Wall and Turtle Cove, which are both covered in many soft corals filled with all the colors of the rainbow. Great macro subjects included orangutan crabs, flatworms and nudibranchs. We did our first night dive of the week at German Channel Coral Gardens where we saw a beautiful black leaf fish with the rest of the night critters.

Blue Holes was first up on Wednesday morning and we had a great dive checking out the disco clams and our guest Caroline did a great dance for us in the exit of the holes. Our second dive of the day was at the smaller version of Blue Corner, which is New Drop Off. We had more great hook-in action here with schools of striped jacks, great barracuda and white tip sharks. We also saw five different turtles on top of the reef, along with a black leaf fish and a scorpion fish in the shallows. After a trip to Blue Corner after lunch we did a dusk dive in Ngedebus Coral Garden where Judy and Jack did a great job on their navigation dive for the advanced course.

We made the trip down to Peleliu Corner on Thursday morning and drifted along the express side checking out the many grey reefs sharks hanging in the current. The visibility was perfect as we watched schools of rainbow runners, barracuda and unicorn fish fly by. We moved the mother ship in the afternoon and that gave us the chance to dive on the inside of Ngerchong Island. This dive is amazing with beautiful coral gardens full of blue staghorn and brain corals. We found banded pipefish and nudibranchs, plus another couple of leaf fish.

Friday morning was beautiful with bright sunshine and a flat calm sea. We headed west to Ulong Island where we have some really fantastic dives. First up was Siaes Tunnel. This deep tunnel is spectacular with brilliant ambient light coming into the exits. We saw some grey reef sharks in the blue and we were followed by a friendly hawksbill turtle for most of the dive. Next up was Siaes Corner where we hooked again to enjoy more shark action mixed in with some dogtooth tuna and many fusiliers. The hard corals here are in pristine condition. After a pizza inspired lunch we headed to one of the jewels in the crown, which is Ulong Channel. It is hard to describe this dive as it blows the mind every time. Sharks whizzing within inches of your face, white tips sleeping on the bottom, giant clams, groupers, cabbage coral which is home to hundreds of soldier fish and two spot snappers, along with soft corals in many different colors. This dive was so good we had to do it again for good measure. After the diving was done we had a nice cocktail party on the sun deck watching the sun disappear behind us.

Our last morning was spent at Jellyfish Lake where we admired the 27 million non-stinging jellyfish in the unique environment. To finish another cracking week on the Tropic Dancer we explored the wonderful Chandelier Caves and saw a few mandarin fish to wrap things up nicely.

The crew of the Tropic Dancer would like to thank Andrea, Stefano, Francois, Sabrina, Marie, Xavier, Quentin, Oscar, Carolina, Eloisa, Javier, Beverly, Judy, Jack, Antoine, Herve and Jake. It was a really pleasure having on board with us this week.

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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report September 23 – 30, 2012

Air/Water Temp: 88/84F
Vis: 70+ ft
Topside: E Wind
Seas: Calm

Our guests come from all around the States, Austria, Japan, Germany, Australia, and China. High energy, great enthusiasm and a passion for the underwater world like none other.

This week brought relatively unusual sightings in unusual locations. German Channel holds your highest chances of manta ray sightings yet Tuesday brought two sightings of these majestic creatures in the areas of Ngerchong and German Coral Garden. Janis named the Ngerchong sighting the “Good Morning Manta Ray”. The German sighting came that very night and of course it was only fitting to name her the “Good Night Manta”.

In the past we’ve had greater chances to finding cuttlefish in the area of Ngerchong where we spotted the “Morning Manta”, but this week however our cuttlefish made her appearance on one of our debut wreck dives the Iro Maru. Not far from this cuttlefish lay various pipefish of all kinds cautiously observing our presence within the nooks and crannies of this wreck.

From our approach to return in between dive sites, there were pods of dolphins either frolicking in a distance or riding the wake of our skiff while in transit. We couldn’t ask for more this week having sunny days and ideal surface conditions. Clear skies made way for deep blue waters and panoramic sunsets. Whether it was a wreck dives, hook dives, or wall dives our group marveled over the big stuff, cheered for the small stuff, and raised a toast to everything else in between. Whatever it may be, Palau is exactly what you’re looking for.

2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Captain Andrew







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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report October 28 – November 4, 2012

We were jam packed this week on the Tropic Dancer, welcoming our guests from Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the USA.

Our diving week began with a check out dive on the Helmet Wreck an once all the kinks with equipment were ironed out we explored this wreck from the Second World War and found many artifacts including rifles, gas masks and Japanese helmets. Next up was the gigantic Iro Maru, which is nearly 500 feet long and home to a big school of horse eye jacks who are closely watched by a great barracuda who feeds on the school of fish. We headed south to our German Channel mooring and did a great dive on the deep wall at Ngemelis Island. We saw a crocodile fish and many nudibranchs. Our final dive turned out to be the most spectacular with nine manta rays feeding at German Channel; this is the most we have seen here from a while. With the full moon fast approaching the plankton blooms are big and the schools of black snapper and fusiliers really enjoy this time to feed well.

Blue Holes was our first dive on Tuesday. We descended down into the amazing cavern and looked up at the beautiful ambient light coming into the cathedral like cave. We saw some disco clams with the brilliant blue flashing mantle. We exited the holes and drifted down to Blue Corner where we tried out our reef hooks for the first time. The current was light but we still saw a lot of grey reef sharks and our favorite napoleon wrasse was of course on the scene. Next up was Ngedebus Corner. The visibility was perfect and the wall here has some of the most healthy soft corals and sea fans that you will ever see. We saw numerous turtles and some really interesting nudibranchs. We visited Blue Corner after an excellent buffet lunch served by our chef Mani. The current again was not to strong but we still hooked in and watch the show, which included performances from the grey reef sharks, black snapper, fusiliers and the giant trevally.

As today was the full moon we revisited German Channel in the hope of some more manta action and we were not disappointed as this time we swam up into the shallows to witness the manta rays in a feeding frenzy. We saw again nine different mantas and we spent a quality hour watching them flying in formation and doing some very acrobatic barrel rolls as they scooped up all the plankton. The water was thick with other schools of fish who joined in on the feast.

Peleliu Corner was our first stop on a busy Wednesday and we experienced the true power of the cut side as we hooked into with a current that everybody enjoyed. West Wall was next up. We saw a couple of green turtles and some bumphead parrotfish along this beautiful deep wall that is covered in yellow cauliflower soft coral. After lunch we paid our respects to the many American and Japanese soldiers who lost their lives on Peleliu during the Second World War. The land tour is very interesting with many tanks and land craft still on the island. Barracks Point was the fourth dive and we were lucky enough to see two very large sailfish in the blue water.

Blue Corner was our first choice on Thursday and we had another good strength current at the hook in area. The grey reef sharks were simply amazing as they hung out in the current without moving a muscle. New Drop Off was dive two and the hook in spot was very busy with unicorn fish, fusiliers, barracuda and white tip sharks all in the mix. A leopard shark sighting was the highlight of Ike’s Wall and the boat was surrounded by a pod of around two hundred spinner dolphins. The fourth dive had so many turtles that we lost count, we saw a scorpion fish and the sharks looked beautiful as they silhouetted against the fading sunlight.

Ulong Island at first light, the great weather continued into our final full day of diving and the Philippine Sea was flat calm. Siaes Tunnel was our first dive and we had a great dive exploring this huge tunnel. Siaes Corner was next up and at the hook in area we saw a family of eight grey reef sharks all swimming together. After a spectacular Indian style lunch buffet we headed over to Ulong Coral Gardens and explored some of the healthiest hard corals that you will ever see in your life. We saved the best until last and enjoyed one more classic hook in dive at Ulong Channel. We watched many sharks patrolling the mouth of the channel and then drifted down checking out the giant clams and the awesome lettuce coral formation that is home to many different species of fish. What a really great week of diving on the Tropic Dancer.

The crew would like to thank our guests Abby, Gary, Lauren, Cindy, Barbara, Nicole, Bernie, Micaela, Andrea, Mitch, Celine, Stephen, Connie, John, Mark, Whitney and John for coming to see us this week on the Tropic Dancer. Happy birthday to Nicole and Happy wedding anniversary(s) to Abby, Gary, Andrea and Micaela. Well done also to Abby and Stephen on reaching 100 dives with us this week.

Written by Kris Mears (Tropic Dancer crew)



















 

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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report Nov 4 – 14, 2012

Air/Water: 29-32C
Visibility: Great
Topside Conditions: Mostly calm
Sea Surface: Mostly flat

We spent a whooping 10 nights at sea for our latest charter; we had a very cosmopolitan mixture of guests from Russia, Germany, Belgium and the United States.

We started our diving after a wonderful power point inspired dive deck briefing on Monday morning. We loaded up our dive skiff that goes by the name of ‘Sherman’ and descended from our cradle into the beautiful calm Philippine Sea. We spent our first day of the charter exploring some shipwrecks from the Second World War. The Helmet wreck was our first dive and this unknown wreck gets its name from the Japanese helmets that are still in one of the cargo holds. We saw a crocodile fish, which was a nice bonus. Next up was Iro Maru, another wreck that is a huge tanker. Here we saw a huge school of horse eyes jacks and a lot of anemone fish can be found around some of the king posts. After lunch our history lesson continued at the Chuyo Maru where we saw a lot of lionfish. Our last dive of the day was on a small Taiwanese fishing boat, which is on the bottom of Lighthouse Channel.

We moved over to Ulong Island on Tuesday and spent some quality time in the famous channel where we saw everything from tiny head shield slugs to six foot grey reef sharks. At one time we counted sixteen sharks in the mouth of the channel. Siaes Tunnel was next and we found some pretty rare fish inside this huge tunnel including the pygmy blue back angelfish and the decorated dart fish. We went to Siaes Corner after lunch and hooked into the reef and watched a school of grey reef sharks including some very cute juveniles go cruising up and down in front of us.

German Channel was our first dive on Wednesday and we were lucky enough to see a couple of manta rays at the cleaning station one of which went straight over Jan and Mary’s head. We saw a cuttlefish on the way through the channel and a couple of white tip sharks were crashed out on the sand. Turtle Cove was next and everybody enjoyed the wonderful wall, which is covered in soft corals of many colors, and there are plenty of turtles to see around the place. After lunch we went to Ngedebus Corner where again the wall is covered in soft corals, wire coral and huge sea fans. A leopard shark was the highlight of dive four at Ngedebus Coral Garden. The shark was happy to just lie on the sand and let everybody take pictures. We had the added bonus of seeing a couple of cuttlefish that looked like a courting couple about to lay their eggs on the reef. It was a nice surprise to see the cuttlefish as we have not seen them for a few months.

Thursday morning began at the jewel of Palau’s crown Blue Corner. We had a good current on the incoming side and the shark action was out of this world as right now it is mating time. The poor female sharks we covered in bite marks and scratches and the amorous males were chasing them all over the place, We had huge schools of black snapper, giant trevally and barracuda all mixed in with the sharks and it really was a great way to start the day. Next was New Drop Off and again this dive had so much going on you needed eyes in the back of your head to see everything. We had a huge hammerhead at the hook in area and we watched a hungry moral eel devour an octopus. We were surrounded by big schools of fusiliers, stripped jacks, and barracuda. There were even a couple of green turtles that had remoras attached to their shell. We visited Blue Holes after lunch and the great day continued with an awesome dive in the huge cavern where we saw the disco clams, which caused some of our guests to break out into a Bee Gee’s style disco dance! We finished up the day with a couple of wall dives at Big Drop Off were we saw some nice nudibranchs and flat worms.

We headed south to Peleliu on Friday morning and spent the morning at Peleliu Corner. We had a good current as we drifted towards the hook in area. Again the shark action was awesome and we also saw some humphead parrotfish scraping away at the reef with their powerful beaks. Yellow Wall was another great dive and we lost count of the amount of green turtles that we saw here. Most of our guests took the chance to visit the island of Peleliu after lunch while the others dived on Orange Beach Coral Garden. West Wall was the four thirty dive and we saw plenty of anemones along wall home to Clarke’s anemone fish and porcelain crabs.

We explored the cut side of Peleliu Corner on Saturday morning and were greeted by over twenty reef sharks. We stayed hooked in and watched the show with schools of unicorn fish and snapper hanging in the current. When we unhooked we drifted over the plateau and saw the famous palette surgeonfish that is also known as ‘ Dory’ from the movie Finding Nemo. This is the only dive site in Palau where you can see this wonderful fish. We revisited Yellow Wall due to popular demand before leaving our anchorage in Peleliu to head back towards the German Channel area. We saw another four manta rays at German Channel feeding in the shallows. We did a fourth dive at the Coral Garden and saw many lionfish hunting. We were joined by a few hawksbill turtles and saw a couple of nice nudibranchs.

We made a final trip to Blue Corner on Sunday morning and counted over twenty grey reef sharks at the hook in area. New Drop Off was next up and we saw a couple of green turtles sitting on the reef. There was a well-camouflaged scorpion fish and the titan triggerfish were in defensive mode as they guarded their nests from intruders. After lunch we went to Fern’s Wall where we enjoyed great visibility and some good macro subjects like long nose hawk fish and boxer banded shrimps. German Channel was dive number four and again we were blessed to see five different manta rays during the dive.

We headed to Ulong Island on Monday with Shark City being our first dive. Sandy Paradise was next up where we explored the sandy patches looking for stingrays and white tip sharks. Ulong Channel was our first dive after lunch and we had a great show from the grey reef sharks that were so close to our guests that you could smell the fish on their breath. We drifted inside the channel and looked in awe at the biggest formation of lettuce coral that you will ever see in your life. We finished up at the two giant clams that are coated with soft coral and are over a hundred years old.

Tuesday started with a snorkel with thirteen million jellyfish at the world famous Jellyfish Lake. We finished up an excitement filled ten days with a dive at Chandelier Cave and a sneak peak at one of most colorful fish in the world - the mandarin fish.

The crew would like to thank our guests Rita, Mary, Jan, Mary, Regine, Benny, Horst, Alexey, Tanya, Roman, Sergey, Alexey, Nurlan, Benny, Regine, Mikhail, Alexey, Vlad, Alexandre and Nikolay for making the trip to see us in Palau this week. It was a pleasure seeing some familiar faces again this week and we hope you enjoyed your time with on the Tropic Dancer.

Written by Kris Mears (Tropic Dancer crew)







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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report Nov 17 – 24, 2012

Air/Water- 29 – 32C/28C
Visibility – average
Topside Conditions – good
Sea surface – slightly choppy

Welcome to the latest edition of the captains log for the Tropic Dancer here in Palau. This week was a truly international event with guests from Russia, USA, UK, Denmark, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and France. Everybody arrived in one piece and once all the gear was set up and dinner was devoured we hit the sack dreaming of all the beautiful fish that we will be experiencing this week.

The Helmet Wreck was our first dive of the charter and we explored this small cargo boat, which was sunk by bombs during World War II, The wreck is full of interesting artifacts like rifles, gas masks, depth charges and beer bottles. The colossal Iro Maru was next which was another wreck sunk by a combination of bombs and torpedoes, We moved the boat across to the German Channel area and did a beautiful wall dive at Ngemelis Island. Here we saw a couple of nice nudibranchs and some great sea fans and wire coral. Ngedebus Coral Garden was our dusk dive and we saw a large cuttlefish that interacted with our guests with a great flashing light show.

German Channel was our first dive on Tuesday. We all sat around the cleaning station waiting for a manta ray and just as we were losing hope of seeing one, when a fine specimen came out of the deep and spent a good five minutes circling the cleaning station letting the little cleaner wrasse get inside its mouth and gill rackers. Towards the end of our dive another manta joined in and this one did something that we have never seen here before, the manta shot up from the reef and cleared the surface of the water with a huge splash and then returned to the cleaning station. Blue Corner was next up and we tried out our reef hook skills and even though the current was not that strong we still had plenty of sharks and schools of fish to see. Turtle Cove was our 1:30 dive and we saw six different turtles. The wall here is spectacular with lots of soft coral and wire coral, home to the little green wire coral shrimp. We hooked into New Drop Off on dive four and watched nine grey reef sharks cruising along the wall. Our first night dive of the week was at Turtle Cove.

We beat the rush and hit Blue Corner first thing on Wednesday morning and hooked in just as the black snapper were migrating to the incoming side. There was plenty of sharks mixed in with schools of fish and our favorite napoleon wrasse was paying a visit to everyone. When we unhooked we drifted across the plateau and saw many barracuda, moray eels and blue-stripped snapper. We headed south to Peleliu Island and had great visibility for our second dive at Barracks Point. We saw four giant clams and a nice school of bump head parrotfish. On the safety stop two great barracuda were looking for lunch. After lunch some people took the chance to explore the island of Peleliu on Tanji’s famous World War II tour. The others stayed underwater with a dive at Orange Beach, which is the area where the first marines landed on the 15th September 1944. West Wall was dive 3 and everybody loved this wall with its soft yellow corals and nice swim through. We did a night dive at Orange Beach where we saw some white tip sharks and plenty of shrimps, crabs and lobsters.

Peleliu Corner was dive one on Thursday morning and we had our reef hooks at the ready for a very unique dive site, as this place is where two oceans collide as the Pacific meets the Philippine Sea. Currents here can be strong, but today it was a nice medium current and we hooked in and saw many sharks in the blue water. There were a couple of green turtles sitting on the reef and there was plenty of barracuda to be seen. Yellow Wall was our next dive and this site gets its name from the beautiful soft cauliflower corals that cover the wall. We had more grey reef and white tip sharks and we found a carpet anemone with a couple of porcelain crabs inside. We took the boat back towards German Channel and visited Blue Holes. This beautiful cavern has four holes near the surface and opens into a cathedral-like cavern that is home to the disco clam and many different shrimp. The fourth dive was at German Channel and again we were lucky enough to see three different manta rays near the cleaning stations. We also saw a big school of scad that were being closely monitored by a couple of hungry groupers. Our last night dive of the charter was at German Gardens and we saw a couple of nice lionfish and plenty of colorful nudibranchs.

Ulong Island was Friday’s destination and Siaes Tunnel was our first dive. The tunnel is spectacular to say the least and is home to the rare decorated dart fish and blue back pygmy angelfish. Siaes Corner was next. We no current at the hook in area we explored the beautiful coral gardens and saw a few turtles and plenty of the smaller tropical fish like the blue faced angelfish. There was also a couple of nice head shield slugs. After lunch we did a couple of dives in Ulong Channel. We saw plenty of grey reef and white tip sharks; the soldier fish were in high numbers in the pristine lettuce coral area. We saw the two twin giant clams that have been here for over seventy years and as we exited the mouth of the channel we were crop dusted by a school of over fifty bumphead parrotfish. We finished up the day with a lovely prime rib and shrimp dinner before watching the video of the week.

Jellyfish Lake was our early excursion on Saturday and we had a great time swimming around with the estimated 13 million jellyfish that live here. We then did a Rock Island Tour after that and stopped for a few pictures at the famous “Koror Arc”. Our last dive was the awesome Chandelier Cave. We explored the four different air chambers before looking for the very shy Mandarin fish in the coral garden. After we returned to the dock it was time for the guest to finally relax after an action packed week on the Tropic Dancer.

The crew would like to thank our guests Stacy, Lene, Lars, Andrey, Ivan, Oleg, Vitaly, Coreen, Matt, Grisel, Tarek, Naomi, Joe, Franco, Elisabeth, Aurelie and Super for making the trip down to Palau to see us this week. We hope you enjoyed the show! Congratulations to Lene, Lars, Stacy and Aurelie for completing the Nitrox course.

Written by Kris Mears (Tropic Dancer crew)



















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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report December 23 – 30, 2012

Welcome to this special festive edition of the captain’s log for the Tropic Dancer. We were fully booked for our Christmas trip with our guests coming from the USA, Germany, Austria, and Australia.

We left the dock at six am sharp on Monday morning. We steamed west to Ulong Island and began our dives at Sandy Paradise. After a quick weight check we dropped down into the Philippine Sea. Not long into the dive we found a pair of leaf scorpion fish and off in the blue there were schools of barracuda and a couple of grey reef sharks. Dive two was around the Coral Garden of Ulong Channel. We saw some stripped jacks chasing a school of scad and there were a few Napoleon wrasse looking for an easy meal. After lunch we dived Ulong Channel. We saw some white tip sharks and a couple of large grey sharks were hanging around in the mouth of the channel. Our last dive of the day was again in the Ulong area and this time we saw a school of around fifty bumphead parrotfish flying along the reef. As we did our safety stop, a huge school of horse-eyed jacks engulfed the whole group that was quite spectacular.

We gave our guests the best possible gift on Christmas morning, which was a trip to Blue Corner. So everybody jumped on our skiff and once we feed the reindeer we speed off to one of the best dive sites on the planet. Blue Corner lived up to its name. We had a mild current, but that was still enough to bring in enough marine life that would have made Mr. Cousteau very proud. We had big schools of black snapper; sharks were flying everywhere, one of which was listening to his new iPod that he got for Christmas. We unhooked after a while and headed to our deeper area to see what we could find. Our faithful Napoleon wrasse followed our every move. Hard to believe but there was even more fish to been seen down deeper with a huge school of giant trevally, then the fusiliers joined in with the pyramid butterfly fish, then the sharks came in and the schools burst way from them in lightning speed. As the dive came towards its close, we were buzzed by a school of chevron barracuda, which numbered in the hundreds. New Drop Off was our second dive of the morning and we saw the resident green turtles resting on the reef and the schools of blue-stripped snappers were present. Turtle Cove was our afternoon dive. We managed to see a couple of hawksbill turtles. For the macro fans we found some really nice nudi’s and a really nice squat lobster that was clinging to a crinoid. Chef Mani created a spectacular Christmas dinner with all the trimmings to make everybody’s mouth water.

We moved south to Peleliu at first light on Wednesday and after Mani’s bacon and eggs we visited Peleliu Corner. We had some current here, but we hooked in and saw a massive school of red snapper near the cut. When we unhooked we explored the top of the reef where we saw a couple of white tip sharks and some big bumphead parrotfish. This dive is also home to the famous little fish that goes by the name of ‘Dory’, one of the stars of the movie Finding Nemo. Barracks Point was our second dive. Karen said she saw four different eagle rays during the dive. After lunch, the majority of the guests took the chance to go and visit the historic island of Peleliu where there was a fierce battle during the Second World War. Our diving continued at West Wall and we saw a couple of green turtles here. Towards the end of the dive we saw a bunch of small anemones, which cascaded down the reef, looking like a fiery red waterfall. There were plenty of the Clark’s anemone fish and even a couple of porcelain crabs.

Thursday started at Blue Corner where the current was good again, giving us another chance at using our reef hooks and again the schools of fish were congregating in front of us. We saw a couple of large Spanish mackerel and there were a couple of times when the sharks zoomed in on a potential target causing a panic amongst the smaller reef fish. After a nice morning snack we visited Blue Holes and explored this very famous cavern. Here there are disco clams embedded into the walls and it is really spectacular to see the light coming down from the holes into the cavern.

German Channel was dive three. This turned into a very special occasion for our guests Markus & Nina as they got engaged underwater with the aid of a dive slate and of course a ring. Nina said ‘yes’ to the big question and we wish them a long and happy life together. Oh, and we did manage to see a manta rays on the dive as well. Our fourth dive was at Ngemelis Wall and we had a nice easy dive finding some great macro subjects like orangutan crabs, lionfish and moray eels.

We did a final dive at Blue Corner and then to Dexter’s Wall on Friday where we saw an eagle ray, along with grey reef, white tip and black tip sharks. We lost count of the number of turtles on the reef, and to top it off we saw a moray eel free-swimming as well. Next up was a trip to one of the wonders of Palau, which is Jellyfish Lake. We swam around with the millions of jellyfish that live in this unique environment. After lunch we visited the colossal wreck of the Iro Maru. She was sunk along with around fifty other ships during the Second World War. Our last dive today was at Lighthouse Channel. There is also another small wreck here that is home to plenty of nudibranch.

Our final dives of our Christmas charter were spent at the Jake seaplane and of course the spectacular Chandelier Caves.

The crew would like to thank Bettina, Stephanie, Nina, Markus, Guido, Christine, Larry, Sara, Steffi, Christian, Bob, Patty, Brian, Karen, Andrew, Julianne, Alex and Georgia for coming to see us this week. It was a real pleasure having you with us.

Huge congratulations to Nina and Markus on your underwater engagement. We are so happy to be part of your special day. Well done also to Bob, who reached the impressive milestone of 500 dives, Steffi and Christian also reached 300 dives each and Stephanie reached a 100 dives. Patty also did the Nitrox class this week, so well done to you.

Well that’s about it for our Christmas charter. We hope everybody had a great festive period and we wish you all a Very Successful New Year.

Written by Kris Mears (Tropic Dancer crew)

















 

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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report Dec 30, 2012 – Jan 6, 2013

Air temp: 31C / 88 F
Water temp: 28 C / 82 F
Visibility: you can see for miles sometimes J
Sea conditions: Slight swells
Crew: Ike, Mani, Ben, Kris, Jim & Len

Welcome to the final edition of the Tropic Dancer Captain’s log for the year 2012. We were fully booked with a group of Russians and a nice couple from Chicago in the United States. We departed the dock on New Year’s Eve and headed straight for our German Channel mooring. We dropped down into the Philippine Sea and within thirty minutes we had encountered four different manta rays that were flying around. One manta spent about fifteen minutes being cleaned. For our second dive we did Big Drop Off. On this beautiful wall we saw some long nose hawkfish hiding in the coral bushes. After lunch we visited Turtle Cove. We dropped down a nice chimney and onto a beautiful wall, which is covered in multi-colored soft corals. We also saw four turtles and big schools of black snappers. We even saw an eagle ray to cap a great dive. Our guests decided to do a late night to celebrate the New Year after which the champagne flowed and as the clock struck midnight the celebrations began.

We decided that it would be fitting to start 2013 with a bang and that bang goes by the name of Blue Corner. We hooked in on the outgoing side and watched a parade of sharks hanging in the current. Some big tuna and Spanish mackerel zoomed by with a silvery flash. Our friendly napoleon wrasse mingled with everybody wishing everyone a successful 2013. After we unhooked we saw schools of barracuda and fusiliers. Next up was Blue Holes, which is one of our favorite dives in Palau. We dropped down the holes into a colossal cavern that will take your breath away. When you look up you can see the sunbeams shooting down through the holes, which gives the place a spiritual feeling. We saw angelfish, disco clams and mantis shrimps inside before we departed through an exit at around fifty feet. We drifted down towards Blue Corner and ended the dive being surrounded by a school of chevron barracuda numbering in the hundreds. After a BBQ chicken lunch we made our way over to Dexter’s Wall where we saw a lot of sea fans and wire coral covering the wall. There were turtles everywhere and schools of sweet lips were on the top reef. New Drop Off was our fourth dive and we hooked in and watched white tips and grey reef sharks in the blue and we saw one of the biggest green turtles in history as we drifted across the plateau. We celebrated New Year’s Day with a feast fit for a king, as chef Mani made a turkey and roast ham dinner with all the trimmings to make sure 2013 started off in great style.

Wednesday morning started off at German Channel. We had a quite an amazing experience watching manta rays feeding on the surface. They whirled around us with their mouths wide open guzzling down the tiny plankton. Next up was our second visit to New Drop Off and today the grey sharks were on top form and the white tip sharks were circling around a school of blue-stripped snappers looking to pounce. Ferns Wall was our fourth dive and this incredible wall is covered in so much soft coral. There were some head shield slugs and a couple of different nudibranch, and some of the crinoids had little squat shrimps clinging to them. We also saw a couple of orangutan crabs on a bubble coral.
We had a change in the wind direction, so we were able to move south to Peleliu Island on Wednesday morning. First up was the express side of Peleliu Corner where we saw some huge bumphead parrotfish and so many green turtles that we lost count. There was a few sharks in the blue and we even saw some of the palate surgeon fish also know as ‘Dory’ from Finding Nemo. After lunch most people decided a bit of terra firma was in order and did the land tour of the island. A few water babies instead carried on diving at West Wall where they spotted a couple of stingrays. We revisited West Wall for dive four and saw the anemone waterfall cascading down the reef.

We moved the boat across to spend Friday at Ulong Island. Our first dive was at Ulong Channel. We saw a few sharks in the mouth of the channel and there were plenty of groupers hiding amounst the coral heads. We drifted down this beautiful channel checking out the most amazing formation of lettuce coral here in Palau. Siaes Tunnel was next up and we dropped down to nearly a hundred feet to explore this huge cavern. Sandy Paradise was our third dive and we saw a couple of leaf fish trying to catch the small glassfish that were swimming close. We dived on the Iro Maru to finish up the day. This huge wreck is nearly five hundred long and is home to a big school of Jacks. There are two huge guns on the bow and the stern, which often have nudibranchs on them. For dinner it was prime rib with all the trimmings, before we sat down and watched the video of the week.

Jellyfish Lake was our first water activity on Saturday morning. Everybody grabbed their snorkels and looked in amazement at the millions of jellyfish that live in the lake. Our last dive of the week was at Chandelier Cave. We explored the air chambers, which have amazing stalactites inside. We found a couple of Mandarin fish in the coral garden to wrap up another week on the Tropic Dancer.

The crew would like to thank our guests: Sheryl, Scott, Sasha, Ksenia, Stan, Vladimir, Elena, Aleksandr, Natlia, Elena, Denis, Sergey, Arina, Artem, Alexander, Roman, Daniil, Sofia and Tatiana. We wish you guys a very happy and successful 2013.

Written by
Kris Mears (Tropic Dancer Crew)









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Tropic Dancer Captain’s Report Jan 6 – 13, 2013

Air/Water: 29/29C
Visibility: Average
Topside Conditions: Mostly calm
Sea Surface: Mostly calm

Welcome to this week’s Captains log for us on the Tropic Dancer in Palau. Our latest charter had a very worldwide feeling to it as we had guests from South Africa, Australia, Finland, Spain, USA, Russia and Uruguay.

Our diving started after our dive deck briefing on Monday morning. We started the week with a dive on the Jake Seaplane. This Japanese torpedo bomber was sunk during the Second World War and sits in just 40 feet of water. Next up was the gigantic Iro Maru, which was a tanker that supplied the Japanese navy; an aerial bomb sank her in 1944. This wreck is nearly 500 feet long and in many peoples’ eyes the finest wreck in Palau. We steamed across to Ulong Island and checked out the Ulong Channel Coral Garden before doing our dusk dive at Sandy Paradise. We saw a big marble ray that swam between our group and there was a couple of leaf fish around a coral head.

Siaes Tunnel was our first dive on Tuesday morning. This spectacular tunnel is around 300 feet long and is home to some rare species of fish, like the blue-black pygmy angelfish. Ulong Channel was our second dive and we had a light incoming current, which bought around eight grey reef sharks into the mouth of the channel. We drifted down the channel seeing many grouper and a huge lobster next to a giant clam. On our safety stop we saw the most beautiful formation of lettuce coral. We pulled up our anchor and headed over to German Channel during our lunch interval. Turtle Cove was our next dive. We dropped down the nice chimney and came out on the beautiful wall at 60 feet. We admired the soft corals all along the wall and found an orangutan crab sitting on a bubble coral. We arrived at the corner to find a couple of grey reef sharks mixed in with huge schools of black snapper and fusiliers. Towards the end of the dive we watched a small hawksbill turtle chewing on a sponge before he went to the surface for a breath of air. Soon after we joined the turtle on the surface as our dive ended. It was macro heaven for dive four at Big Drop Off and the highlight was a ghost pipe hiding among some algae. We also found some long nose hawkfish and a couple of our guests saw a leopard shark resting on the bottom.

Blue Holes was our first stop on Wednesday morning. We really enjoy our dives here and is one of Palau’s signature dives. Four holes near the surface drop down into huge cavern that will take your breath away. We drifted down towards Blue Corner in the second half of the dive and even saw a sea snake (see photo). New Drop Off was our second dive and there were a lot of interesting things to see like the lazy green turtles that just sit on the reef almost as if they are royalty. When you look at them they just turn their beak up at you as if you are beneath them. There was also four white tip sharks resting on a small sand patch and the hook-in area was full of barracuda, pyramid butterfly fish and a couple of grey reef sharks. After lunch we visited German Channel. No manta rays on this dive, but we saw the big schools of unicorn fish, black snapper and fusiliers all in the shallows. Dive four was Dexter’s Wall, which turned into a turtle feast with over six different ones being seen. Our night dive was at Turtle Cove where we saw squat lobsters clinging to some crinoids, some nice juicy coral crabs and a couple of small moray eels.

We awoke before sunrise on Thursday to travel south to Peleliu Island. West Wall was our first dive, the visibility was great and you could see for miles. We saw the group of anemones that run down the wall and there was also a couple of porcelain crabs clinging on catching the pieces of plankton as they flew by. Peleliu Corner was dive two and we hooked in on the ‘Express Side’ and watched a great performance by the grey reef sharks as they hung out in the current. After an Italian buffet for lunch the whole group visited the island of Peleliu and did the Second World War land tour with the famous guide, Tanji. Our fourth dive of the day was at Barracks Point and we lost count of the number of sea turtles. There were also a couple of giant clams and different types of nudibranch.

Blue Corner was our first dive on Friday morning. We hooked in on the outgoing side and played around with our favorite napoleon wrasse for the whole dive. There were plenty of sharks in the deep and we saw barracudas, turtles, black snapper and even a sea snake on the reef. Ferns Wall was our second dive and we saw a couple of nudibranch mating. After lunch we paid a final visit to Blue Corner. Our last dive of the day was at German Channel. After no luck with the mantas on our first try, we had a lot more luck this time as we saw multiple mantas being cleaned and also some feeding action as well. After a beautiful dinner of prime rib and shrimp we sat down and enjoyed the ‘video of the week’.

On our last morning we visited Jellyfish Lake and our last dive was in the awesome Chandelier Cave. We returned to port, enjoying a great cocktail party before watching the ‘slideshow of the week’.

The crew would like to thank our guests: Tarina, Bennie, Maria, Teresa, Dan, Debora, Christian, Justin, Kristina, Slava, Leonid, Svetlana, Greg, Jess, Mikko and Tuomas for coming to see us this week on the Tropic Dancer. It was a pleasure having you on board with us.

Written by Kris Mears (Tropic Dancer crew)





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