Wreck Diving and the End of an Epic Trip

:

Tonight is our last night in Palawan. In the morning we fly back to Manila, chill for a night, and then head back to Busan on late Saturday/early Sunday. It’s been a hell of a run and the last two days were the perfect way to cap this particular time out.

Coron and Busaunga Island are historically important because this area is where The Battle of Coron was fought. On September 24th, 1944, a large group of US bombers launched from Admiral Bull Halsey’s carrier group suprised a group of Japanese supply ships that was attempting to reinforce the Philippines. It was a surprise attack resulting in the devastation of the Japanese flotilla. To this day these ships lay where they were sunk, and are open for exploration by divers.

Tonight is our last night in Palawan. In the morning we fly back to Manila, chill for a night, and then head back to Busan on late Saturday/early Sunday. It’s been a hell of a run and the last two days were the perfect way to cap this particular time out.

Coron and Busaunga Island are historically important because this area is where The Battle of Coron was fought. On September 24th, 1944, a large group of US bombers launched from Admiral Bull Halsey’s carrier group suprised a group of Japanese supply ships that was attempting to reinforce the Philippines. It was a surprise attack resulting in the devastation of the Japanese flotilla. To this day these ships lay where they were sunk, and are open for exploration by divers.

We did four dives in two days. Yesterday we hit two large freighters, “Olympia Maru” and “Morozan Maru.” It’s ironic that the first bears the same name as my hometown. We were with our German divemaster and a young French couple that live in China (when asked what they were doing here, the vaguely answered, “working.”). The wrecks were amazing, in 26 and 25 meters of water, respectively. We spent time on the face of the ships, as well a lot of time going inside, which really was the best part. After sixty-plus years on the bottom, the ships have become coral reefs in their own right and are teeming with tropical sealife. We took in lion fishes, a crocodile fish, a big sea turtle, and thousands of others bright swimming things whose names I remain ignorant of.

Today we dived the “Moroza Maru,” an aircraft tender, and the huge tanker “Akitasushima.” They both were fantastic, with the tanker really standing out, if just for its size alone. The current was strong outside of the wreck, and after diving bow to stern – mainly inside though some dark and tight passages – we floated back to the bouy-line along the lip of the wreck, barely having to swim at all. A huge wall of coral-encrusted metal shot straight down to the bottom, and loads of huge fish lingered in the sheltering outcroppings that now were host to all sorts of life. It was psychedelic, awe-inspiring, and just straight-up fucking awesome. Definitely one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life, as far as pure thrilling experience goes. We got down to 35 meters (over 100 feet), which is almost double our qualifications as Open Water Divers, but as long as you’re with a good divemaster they don’t seem to be so strict about these things over here.

So tomorrow it’s back to the swampy, crumbling environs of Manila, where I’ll try to assemble my thoughts and prepare myself for yet another sememster on The Peninsula. There have been some great characters and stories on this trip that I’ve only touched on so far, so hopefully I’ll be able to process them into a couple of good pieces for this here blog or more glorious outlets, with a bit of luck.



Leave a Comment