December 29, 2003 - December 30, 2003 - December 31, 2003 - January 1, 2004 - January 2, 2004

December 28, 2003: Palau - Big Blue Explorer

A D2D New Years 2004: Palau dive
"Ngemelis Coral Gardens" - "Turtle Cove" - "New Drop Off" - "Ngemelis Coral Gardens"

First day of diving, and the day of the worst dive. But then, they have to get you situated, checked out, that sort of thing ...
Diving from the Big Blue into the Big Blue:
  • Directions from Tampa: Get ahold of Ultimate Dive Travel ( or someone else who can book you passage.
  • Conditions on the day of my visit: A little overcast - if it wasn't the rainy season, we were at the tail end.

  • Personal Notes: Check out dives aren't usually the best dives of the trip. Ngemelis Coral Gardens didn't completely suck, but many Caribbean dives surpassed it. At night it was in some ways better, and in other ways, worse. Oh, and I discovered that I had forgotten my dive lights charger. So no night video/pictures until New Years, because I needed the battery for that, if I was going to get any night stuff. Also, I can't be 100% sure about the timing of the photos - I hadn't reset the camera's time yet.

    As I try to do every so often, the second dive was done without camera. It feels great sometimes to just dive. I did that a lot at night since I didn't have the charger fo the batteries.


I think my housing and camera lenses need a good cleaning ... the autofocus doesn't seem to be locking on as well as it should. Also, I've seen advice that suggests setting the focus to infinity, which I should probably try. My housing does have special lenses (wide angle and possibly a macro lens) available, and there is a new light system that, if the advertisement is to be believed, would be worth bringing in the day time, even for shots between four to six feet away. However, if I do get those lights, I'll be getting an extra battery for them ...
Ngemelis Coral Gardens
Though very blurry, this pic of some kind of angelfish (I'm guessing, anyway) should show you the wide variety of colors you'll see on Pacific fish over those in the Atlantic.
As I indicated, this site wasn't overly exciting, but it was our first dive. I saw this guy (probably somewhere around two feet long and four inches wide) not moving all that fast - hence, an easy shot. But then I noticed he had something on his back ...
Which I'm guessing is some kind of sea slug or maybe a nudibranch.
This, I'm quite sure, is a nudibranch, as his gills are easily spotted. He might be a little blurry but then he's only a couple of inches long, at most.
This is a clam! I never really knew that they looked like that.
This is a Scorpion Fish I'm guessing. Almost didn't spot him even with help from a fellow diver.
This is a big thing of coral - probably about six feet wide.
It\'s not easy to spot but the heads of these guys look a little caved in.
This guy is in focus, but it's not the best angle.
Here's a better angle, but not so much in focus.
Surprisingly clear for a shot of a quickly moving target. I'm guessing this is a type of butterfly fish.
Here's another view of him. Again, you get the idea of just how much color variation you'll see on a given fish.
New Drop Off
This is a (dark, I guess) picture of a Clown Trigger (or so I gathered from others on the trip).
He was far away - which was fine with me. And he was headed away - again, fine with me. This is probably a gray reef shark, I'm guessing five to six feet long. I was probably hooked on the reef at this point, pretty much "flowing in the breeze."

Dive data for dives on this day:

Dive Site Name Max Depth Minutes Water Temp
223 Ngemelis Coral Gardens 74 feet 60 min. 82 F
224 Turtle Cove 85 feet 66 min. 82 F
225 New Drop Off 75 feet 58 min. 82 F
226 Ngemelis Coral Gardens 65 feet 58 min. 82 F
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