It was a wonderful day today!
We started out at Turtle Cove, despite not having Peleliu dive permits. Blessedly it is off season, so they are not too strict. We didn’t get Peleliu permits this time because of how devastated the reef appeared on our last visit. It will likely be several years before we go back there again.
That being said, we had a new divemaster today, Antonio, who has been leading dives for the past 8 years. Tova (FnF owner) employs only Palauan dive guides, making for a culturally aware dive shop that can provide more information than might be expected (i.e. turtle shell cleaning with soft coral). The DM reminded me a little bit of Mr. Keo - especially his startle response. It is funny to watch him, he gets entranced by the dive, and then suddenly realizes he has divers behind him. Four out of five of us are instructors, though, so not too much to worry about. As long as he keeps the newbie at his side! We saw a turtle cleaning its shell against the coral (with two remoras on board), a wire coral with up to 10 gobies on it, and a black snapper school. Unfortunately, the eel we saw last time was not in residence today.
We next went to New Drop Off hoping for another Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but no luck - there was almost no current, definitely pretty slow for a full moon. We did see three turtles, lots of ta’ape, a couple of barracuda, and a juvenile bumphead parrotfish. Being hooked in really did nothing for us, none of the big critters were having anything to do with us on this dive. When we got on board, I was concerned that I had air trapped in my BCD. Turns out I did not. Instead, I had oodles of water in it! The tear is getting bigger. I may need to get new wings when we get home (although Wayne mentions that they are now making a woman’s BCD, so I may wind up getting a whole new rigging).
Then we were off to German Channel. To be honest with you, I don’t have to dive German Channel ever again. Last year’s five for five sightings of manta rays was unbelieveable. Astounding. I just don’t know that we could ever manage that again. That being said, our companions wanted to do the channel, so we went along. I simply hoped for some grey reef sharks. But our luck held (thank you Jodi!), and we saw a lone manta ray at the second cleaning station. Lovely. And the same Napoleon wrasse was present, along with dozens and dozens of groupers. An amazing dive, and I’m glad we didn’t miss it!
We headed in to the shop to get new tanks for our fourth dive, and to wait for the sun to get lower in the sky. We tried to figure out which wreck we wanted to do as the night dive. I had voted for Jake Seaplane, but it apparently has been severely damaged (as had the surrounding reef) by Bopha, so the choice swung to Chuyo Maru. This was the first time diving the Chuyo for me, the second for Wayne. So I have now hit two new dive sites! The Hollis finally let me back in, and I descended with it. I did use my backup compyuter for the first three dives of the day, so please do not fear! There were lots of interesting shrimp, gunwhales, and lots to explore. I did not penetrate the wreck, though, as I had never dived it before in daylight, much less the night. While we were doing our gradual ascent (reminiscent, as Wayne reminds me, of Chuuk) we finally found a longnose hawkfish. Woo hoo, they are not gone!
After we got back and rinsed gear, we walked (horrors gasped the FnF staff) to Sushi Bar Mito for dinner. I had hoped to go to Mog Mog tonight, but Wayne was in the mood for Japanese, so we went. I have to admit, it was quite good. I had the grilled squid and minute seared fish of some sort, Wayne a sushi combo. A good find, and we will be able to report positively. Yummy!