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from ScubaDiving.com; Strong currents make this a very different dive than the two previous. Whipping past oversize colonies of Tubastrea corals and a slope of sea whips while shooting toward the channel’s sandy floor, it feels as if I’m flying. In less than two minutes, the current has brought me to a wall, perpendicular to the channel. It’s not a natural reef — it’s the port side of another shipwreck sunk in 80 feet of water. The name of the 100-foot ship — a fishing vessel turned submarine chaser — remains a mystery; it’s dubbed the Buoy 6 wreck. Where current encounters the ship’s vertical structure, it creates a plankton-rich upwelling that provides a reliable feeding spot for small planktivorous anthias and chromis. Lying fairly upright, with plenty of holes, holds and wreckage, the ship offers plenty of protected dwellings where critters have taken up residence. In turn, that draws predators from small to large.

It might be less sizeable than many of the monstrous wrecks here, but it is without doubt the most colorful. Feasting on plankton swept in and out of Malakal Harbor on rising and falling tides, huge gorgonians and inflated, multihued soft corals decorate the deteriorating deck and hull from bow to stern. The flow of water sweeps me along the port side and around the bow into the lee of the wreck, where the current subsides. There I watch the chaotic feeding frenzy caused by the relation of the wreck to the current. Along the leeward hull — amid Tubastrea polyps, sponges and black corals — crawl numerous Blue Dragon nudibranchs, their elongate bodies designed to feed on hydroids. While edging around the stern and checking out the ship’s rudder, I’m caught by a pair of lionfish staring with haughty expressions, daring me to get close with my camera. Nearby, a semicircle angelfish pokes its head out of a hole in the hull then disappears into the twisted innards of the wreck. The ship has been submerged going on seven decades, yet it appears as if it grew naturally over eons, reef-producing organisms growing on its steel bones, colonizing invertebrates spreading through its rigging.

When to Go: Palau’s wrecks are accessible the entire year, even in inclement weather.

Diving Conditions: Water temp runs between 82 and 84 degrees year-round. Visibility is 30 to 90 feet, but varies with weather, tides and dive sites.

Operator: Sam’s Tours Palau, Fish N Fins or Palau Dive Adventures can take you to every known wreck. Before you go, let your operator know you want to concentrate on wrecks. 10 wrecks to consider: Iro, Chuyo Maru, Buoy 6 Wreck, Teshio Maru, Gozan, Jake seaplane, Ryuku Maru, Helmet Wreck, Bichu Maru and Amatsu Maru.

Price Tag: Seven nights’ accommodations wuth five days of two-tank diving start at $900, depending on where you’d like to stay.

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