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Palau upcoming trip appetite whetter

Highlights from our trip in 2014


With our upcoming Palau trip hopefully fast approaching, I decided on a trip down memory lane to remind myself what is in store for us. As usual I couldn’t resist the urge to edit down the trip video I shot there in 2014 into a highlight reel. Unusually, I decided to make it much longer than my typical 2-3minutes to a whopping at 7minutes. 

This was the last trip I did with my trusty Panasonic HVX200 HD camera before moving to the data hogging Sony Z100 4K rig I use now, so the picture quality — particularly in the wide angle stuff — isn’t so great but the macro still comes up a treat. Lots of small fish that were new to me make an appearance and the sharkyness of the Blue Corner keeps the wide bits interesting.

I’d love your feedback. Too long? Not long enough? Let the people speak and my future videos will reflect the majority opinion.

If this kind of diving appeals to you and you’d like to join me and the Undersea Productions gang in Palau in April 2022, drop me a line, we have a couple of spaces still available.

Here is a breakdown of the footage :

When What
0:00 Blue corner from below the wall with grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)
0:07 Blue corner from the wall with grey reef sharks (Carcharhinusamblyrhynchos)
0:11 Divers hook in with reef hooks at Blue Corner to ride the current, Pyramid butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis) like it there too
0:15 Grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) pause to be cleaned by cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus)
0:19 Grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) pause to be cleaned by cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus)
0:22 Grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and Pyramid butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis) cruising Blue Corner
0:28 Dominant male Humphead maori wrasse (Cheilinusundulatus) are not shy
0:32 Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) chewing on sponges
0:35 Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) chewing on sponges joined by opportunistic Redfin hogfish (Bodianusdictynna)
0:39 Scythe triggerfish (Sufflamen bursa) getting jiggy
0:43 Black and white snapper (Macolorniger) are plankitorous snappers – they love fish spawn
0:48 Bigeye barracuda (Sphyraena forsteri) with Vlamming’s unicornfish (Nasovlamingii) and Redfin triggerfish (Odonus niger) cruise the blue
0:52 Bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) are a common sight
0:56 Blacktail snapper (Lutjanus fulvus)
1:00 Humphead maori wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) starts the feeding frenzy joined by Giant and Bluefin trevallies (Caranx ignobilis & C. melampygus) and White-tip reef sharks (Triaenodonobesus)
1:07 Humphead maori wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) gets a quick clean from  cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus & L. bicolor) while on the hunt
1:10 Bigeye scad (Selar crumenophthalmus) are among the prey species attacked by Dogtooth tuna (Gymnosarda unicolor) and loads of other predators including sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos & Triaenodon obesus), groupers (Epinephelus malabaricus & E. fuscoguttatus), wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), trevallies(Caranx melampygus & C. ignobilis) and snappers (Lutjanus bohar) among others
1:24 The melee continues
1:30 Reef manta rays (Manta alfredi) are one of the main attractions of German Channel
1:36 Reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) circles the cleaning station
1:41 Reef manta rays (Manta alfredi) play nice and share the cleaner wrasses
1:45 Grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) missing the top of its caudal fin(tail)
1:48 Beautiful coral communities are full of diverse fishlife in the channel
1:52 Many spotted sweetlip (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides) feeds on critters buried in the sand
2:00 Divers descend into the “Virgin Blue Hole” – quite an unfortunate name
2:06 Siaes Tunnel is a stunning cavern full of interesting cave dwelling critters, and divers
2:11 Randall’s anthias (Pseudanthias randalli) is one of my all-time faves and loves the deep walls and caves
2:17 Longfin bannerfish (Heniochus acuminatus) chillin’ in Siaes Tunnel
2:22 Longnose butterflyfish (Forcipiger longirostris) foraging for tiny invertebrates in the Virgin Blue Hole
2:26 Whitetipped soldierfish (Myripristis vittata) are one of many nocturnal species that spend their days in the Blue Holes
2:30 Palau’s Blue Holes are huge caverns often full of divers
2:37 The female Latern toby (Canthigaster epilampra) attracts the male puffing up to show off
2:47 Dwarf slingjaw wrasse (Epibulus brevis) hunting but unfortunately not slinging his jaw for the camera
2:54 Yellowfin parrotfish (Scarus flavipectoralis) having a feed on algae
2:59 Male Celebes wrasse (Oxycheilinus celebicus) are always keen to show their colours
3:03 Male Blue-scaled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus cyanopleura) is an uncommon species posing nicely
3:08 Ornate butterflyfish (Chaetodon ornatissimus) are found in coral rich areas
3:16 Flowery flounder (Bothus mancus) cruises the reef top
3:26 Regal angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus) almost always look straight at the camera before leaving the scene
3:30 Twospot wrasse (Halichoeres biocellatus) are not shy – typical of the genus
3:35 This is the only time I have seen Katherine’s wrasse (Cirrhilabrus katherinae)
3:41 Princess damsels (Pomacentrus vaiuli) never go far from home and are easily approached
3:48 Yellow-mask angelfish (Pomacanthus xanthometopon) is a spectacular member of the group
3:55 Juvenile Dotted butterflyfish (Chaetodon semeion) feeding on Lettuce coral (Pavona cactus)
4:03 Dark-fin chromis (Chromis atripes) doing its best to photobomb the spectacular Flame angelfish (Centropyge loricula)
4:08 Arc-eye hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus) are ambush predators that hold their ground, to a point
4:15 Jellyfish lake is surrounded by logs festooned with unique sponges, anemones and algae
4:20 Golden jellyfish (Mastigias cf. papua etpisoni) have evolved in Jellyfish lake, they have almost no sting and rely mostly on photosynthesis for nourishment
4:26 Shameless seflie freediving through masses of Golden jellies, down and back
4:48 The view looking up, and yet more jellyfish
5:00 The protected areas between islands house a different assemblage of critters like the Three-striped whiptail (Pentapodustrivittatus) in a habitat that rarely has clear water like this.
5:15 Gold-speckled shrimpgoby (Ctenogobiopspomastictus) keeps a lookout for the Sandy goby shrimp (Alpheus djeddensis) who does the housekeeping & landscaping
5:27 Blackline filefish (Pervagor nigrolineatus) gets photobombed by the rediculously patterned Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus)
5:33 Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) get active at dusk
5:38 Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) get real active, these horny pair start their spawn run but decide against it
5:45 Sapphire or Blue damsels (Pomacentrus pavo) display for potential mating
5:50 An unidentified sand dragonet, male enters frame and shows off his dorsal indicating it’s business time, female appears to disagree
5:56 Whitestreak monocle bream (Scolopsis ciliata) sift through mouthfuls of sand to find invertebrates
6:03 Divers descending onto the wall at Blue Corner
6:10 Overhang covered in soft corals (Dendronepthya sp.) visited by Many spotted sweetlip (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)
6:15 Male Square-spot anthias (Pseudanthias pleurotaenia) are spectacular yet common on the deep walls
6:22 Every square meter is covered in diverse hard corals
6:26 Deep walls and towering bommies in crystal clear water is typical of Palau
6:30 Shallow reefs exposed to storms recover fast with Acropora corals
6:33 Moorish idols (Zanclus cornutus) forage among endless fields of hard corals
6:37 Tube sponges amid yet more hard coral gardens
6:41 Crescent-tail bigeyes (Priacanthus hamrur) allow divers to join the school
6:43 Yet more astonishingly healthy and diverse hard coral formations
6:45 The very shallow reefs often feature soft corals among the hard ones, Pyramid butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis) patrol the incoming plankton zone
6:46 Japanese snorkellers are a comming sight above.
6:50 Photobomber and selfie, Japanese snorkeller comes to say hi.
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2 years ago

Absolutely wonderful video from Palau. So envious (in a good way). I can’t think of anything more important, in these days of unsolved climate threats, to document undersea tropical reefs, both for biodiversity documentation, and for their aesthetic / ambient scene potential. Thanks.

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