Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Snorkelling with sharks and turtles

We're now back in Koror after a great cruise of the Rock Islands. Since last post we have done much more snorkelling and at really good spots. The first one was in German Channel. It's a man made channel through the outer reef done by the Germans 100 years ago when they ruled Palau. We managed to anchor Sophia near the entrance to the channel (only passable at high tide (and for yachts with less than 2m draft)) and along with Oh La La (and Shawn and Holly on the aussie boat we met in PNG, they finally made it here too) we dinghied out into the pass. It was pretty good and we saw a ton of fish and several turtles. However, we weren't too impressed with the visibility, it was better than inside the reef, but still wasn't great.

One of the many dive boats with tourists passed us in the channel as we were motoring along in our tiny dinghy with the 2.5 hp outboard and they pointed and laughed at us and even took pictures. Guess they would have laughed even more if they had seen us coming back wearing our masks because the waves made so much spray! It's a small dinghy and we dont' go very fast, but it works just fine nonetheless, it hasn't tipped over backwards since that one time in Tonga!

Unfortunately our underwater camera battery refused to charge, so we only have photos for the first half of the trip and none of all the really good stuff! We snorkelled clam city, a place where a bunch of giant clams have been placed (for snorkelling tourists, but who cares, it was still cool). We have never seen so many giant clams all together in one spot. Some of them were empty shells, but they were really cool also, very sculptural and with fish life inside. But, no photos.

Our very best snorkel EVER (on this whole trip since NZ) was in the Ulong channel. It's another channel (natural, but doesn't go all the way through to the inside) in the outer reef and by going really early in the morning we caught the incoming tide (just before high) which meant that the visibility was really good (30 meters or so). We saw more sharks than we could count (+20) and almost as many turtles! Plus of course tons of other fish, including big napleon fish, barracuda, spotted groupers and bull headed parrot fish. Wauw! We went back again later in the day because it was so good and we were curious to see what the change in tide would do. It did make the water more murky, but it was still OK. The second time it was also flowing much faster and we covered a lot of ground really quickly, fun! Only one of the sharks (all reef sharks, none very big) was curious (and not scared!) of us and came up to about 5 meters away from us to check us out, at the point, we both scurried towards the dinghy and breathed a bit faster. 

We also visited Ulong beach where two Survivors (not sure which country, probably US) have been shoot in 2004 and 2007. There was no sign of it of course, but it was quite a nice beach. We had fun making jumps (jet star jumps!) with the auto-timer, but it's actually quite tricky to time it right as seen below! Check out a bunch more photos on facebook.

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