Palau – day 6

For our second-to-last day in Palau, we decided to dive again at some of its best sites. Even though it seemed difficult that we could be impressed further after having enjoyed so many natural wonders in Palau, its underwater world left us amazed once again.

As we previously told you, after finishing the dives we had originally planned on our third day in Palau, we decided to dive one more day, since we had been amazed by the seabed and marine fauna of these islands. We devoted the sixth day to this, for which we had nothing planned. As we will show below, we were very happy to make this decision. However, for those who prefer other activities, an interesting option (which we also considered) is to visit the state of Kayangel, located on a small coral atoll north of Babeldaob. It is possible to do this tour with IMPAC for example.

The Neco Marine team picked us up as usual at our hotel to take us to the port. After boarding the boat, we headed to the first diving site of the day: German Channel.

As soon as we jumped into the water, we found the first marine creature of the day: a hawksbill turtle! This species of sea turtle closely resembles green turtles, so it is necessary to observe carefully to distinguish them. One of the features that makes it easier to identify them is their beak, which is sharp and curved in hawksbill turtles, and blunt in green ones. In addition, green turtles have a single pair of elongated dark plates between their eyes, while hawksbills have two pairs of shorter plates. In our post about day 2 in Palau you can see a green turtle in detail.

Unlike green turtles, hawksbill turtles have a primarily carnivorous diet. They feed mainly on sponges, but also on other marine animals, such as some species of jellyfish and anemones. They are highly resistant to toxins from their preys. For example, some of the sea sponges they eat contain poisons lethal to other animals. They are critically endangered, partly due to intense hunting by humans that they suffered in the past.

Shortly after, we were lucky enough to come across a cuttlefish, which showed us its impressive camouflage skills. These animals, evolutionarily related to squids and octopi, are able to change color quickly to blend in with their surroundings, which is why they are sometimes called “chameleons of the sea”. Their fast color changes (which can happen in even less than a second) are achieved thanks to cells present in the various layers of their skin that can show or hide their pigments, or change their ability to reflect light, as needed. These changes are controlled by the cuttlefish through direct neural connections between these cells and the cuttlefish brain (which allow them to happen very quickly).

Cuttlefish

In the following video you can clearly see how the color of the cuttlefish changes is it goes through different environments.

Of course, as usual in Palau, we also saw a multitude of sharks (some of them resting on the sandy seabed!), tropical fish and other marine creatures. Among them, a cowtail stingray. This species of stingrays is characterized by a fold in part of its stinger that resembles the tail of a cow, or a large feather. They are somewhat dangerous to humans, as their stinger is highly mobile, has serrated edges and is covered in poison. They are frequently hunted as their skin is used to make leather.

Dive at German Channel

As if all the above was not enough, we could see the magnificent manta rays again! We are always impressed to see these graceful beings, and we were very happy to be able to swim with them before saying goodbye.

Our next destination was Blue Corner. Since it is one of the best diving spots in the world (if not the best), we thought it was good to dive there again. We saw a great variety of fish, such as female Napoleon wrasse (which, as you can see in the following photos and videos, are quite different from the male ones we have shown you so far). We also saw a large titan triggerfish. This species, one of the largest of the triggerfish family (so named because they can straighten their spine to defend themselves), this fish has large, sharp teeth with which they can inflict serious injuries if they feel their young are threatened.

We also had the chance to swim very close to white tip reef sharks, which, as we explained previously, are usually quite shy.

White tip reef shark

Towards the end of our dive, we saw a large school of barracudas adopting an impressive tornado formation, which allows them to confuse their predators.

After a very complete second dive, we had a lunch break to eat. We took the chance to ask our captain if there were dugongs in Palau (one of our favorite marine animals, which we had previously seen in the Philippines). He told us that there is a population, although both the dugongs and the areas where they are usually found are highly protected, making it difficult to spot them. In Palauan they are known as mesekiu, and traditionally the highest-ranking Palauan chiefs wore one of their vertebrae as a bracelet.

Taking a break between dives

After a pleasant break full of interesting facts about Palauan culture, we prepared for the third and final dive, once again at Blue Corner. This time, the currents were extremely high. Although this made diving more technically challenging, it also caused a large number of sharks to swim in front of us. It is impressive to see them moving at high speed through the currents, as if they were on a highway.

We also saw another hawksbill turtle. We though it was a great way to say goodbye to the seabed of Palau!

Finalmente, emprendimos nuestro regreso a Koror, algo tristes al tratarse de nuestro último día de buceo en este pequeño paraíso. Sin lugar a dudas, ¡regresaremos para explorar de nuevo estos maravillosos fondos llenos de arrecifes de coral!

After arriving in Koror, since we still had our rental car, we decided to go see the sunset at Palau Pacific Resort. We were able to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen, with the last rays of the sun radiating through the clouds with an intense reddish color. We also took the chance to have some delicious and refreshing tropical juices in the hotel bar next to the beach.

Stunning sunset

To conclude the day, and since it was the last dinner in Palau, we had dinner again at Elilai. This time, we ordered a la carte dishes instead of the set menu to try new dishes. Just like our first dinner in Palau, everything was delicious! It was a great way to almost wrap up our Palau trip.

Summary

Visited places:
  • German Channel (dive 1)
  • Blue Corner (dives 2 and 3)
  • Palau Pacific Resort
Seen sea creatures:
  • Hard and soft corals
  • Hawksbill turtle
  • Cuttlefish
  • White tip reef shark
  • Cowtail stingray
  • Vlaming’s unicornfish
  • Manta ray
  • Napoleon wrasse
  • Bicolor parrotfish
  • Blue damselfish
  • Cortnetfish
  • Titan triggerfish
  • Magnificent sea anemone
  • Barracudas
  • Green turtle
  • Grey shark

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Lara and Rafa

Lara and Rafa

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