Day 2 of my Palau Adventure onboard the Black Pearl: Barnum's Wall, Blue Corner, German Channel
Our first dive of the day was at Barnum's Wall. After a late breakfast and a dive site briefing, we boarded the dive tenders and sped away from the imperious Black Pearl.
The top of the reef at Barnum's Wall starts at around 5 meters, then a hard coral garden dotted with giant clams slopes down into the depths. Halfway through the dive, the topography changed to a sheer wall adorned with huge Georgianna Sea fans, clumps of red Whip corals and a generous smattering of broccoli corals. This healthy-looking reef is a home thriving community of anemones, reef fish and grazing turtles.
Back on the boat, our wetsuits were taken from us by Rasel, the Deckhand, and hung up to dry, Wayan, the barman/waiter, then asked for our breakfast orders, and shortly after this, we were tucking into generous breakfast.
After some relaxation time, the briefing for the second dive took place in the dining area. The second dive of the day was at the world-famous Blue Corner.
The dive began on a wall that dropped to over 300 meters. A huge school of Jacks stuck close to the top of the reef as grey reef sharks scythed through their ranks. After swimming along the wall for a few minutes, we arrived at a Plateau that juts into the ocean.
This plateau is where the current converges, and a large congregation of schooling fish assemble, attracting sharks and other large predators. We used reef hooks to secure ourselves to the plateau's edge near the drop and hung in the mild current to watch a precision of sharks, Fusiliers, barracuda, tuna, and rainbow runners swim past us.
After this spectacle, we explored the plateau, where we found schools of yellow snapper, numerous green turtles, marble group, and Napoleon wrasse. Plus, swarms of red tooth triggerfish, Pyramid bannerfish and anthias. After the dive, I asked our guide Gabriel how this dive at Blue Corner rated with some of his other dives at this location. He gave this one a 3 out of 10. All I can say is a 10 out of 10 must be absolutely mind-blowing.
After lunch, it was time for another of the area's signature dives, the German channel. The Germans dug this shallow channel when Palau was one of their colonies to allow easy access from the island of Peleliu to Koro. At the end of the channel, a sloping reef of hard coral descends to around 15 meters.
The hard corals then give way to a sandy bottom scattered with coral bommies. Some of these bommies are cleaning stations that sharks and Mantas frequent. Although we were at the end of manta season, we still hoped to encounter some of these majestic creatures. Unfortunately, no mantas were present on our dive, but we saw a large father tail ray and plenty of grey and white tip reef sharks. Plus, schools of humpback snapper, juvenile barracuda and Lunatail bigeyes.
On the way back to the Black Pearl, we did see two huge mantas cruise through the channel, no doubt on their way to one of the cleaning stations we had just left!
Later that afternoon, Cruise directors Gabriel and Maria arranged an excursion to a stunning nearby beach for sunset drinks. The perfect way to relax at the end of a great day of diving.