Unique Dive Expeditions

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Developed from years of data gathering, experience, and knowledge of Palau diving, Paul Collins and Richard Barnden created Unique Dive Expeditions.

The customized tours by Unique Dive Expeditions are designed to deliver the most spectacular diving Palau has to offer, as these rich waters are renowned for their marine biodiversity and home to over 1300 species of fish and more than 700 species of corals.

Based on the monthly lunar cycles, Unique Dive Expeditions offers a once-in-a-lifetime diving experience. During Full and New Moon, different species of fish gather in huge aggregations to spawn. Numbers can vary from hundreds to thousands depending on the species. These mind-blowing spawning events usually attract Palau's biggest predators as well. Take advantage and dive in a small and flexible group (maximum 7 divers), which enables us to show you the full potential of these exceptional dive sites.

Unique Dive Expeditions also offer individually tailored trips for photographers and underwater behavior enthusiasts. The team has been working with filming crews from the BBC, National Geographic and more.

Is Unique Diving for You?

Due to the nature of the strong currents affected by the moon phase, which also brings aggregations of fish together to spawn at dawn, Unique Dive Expeditions is not for everyone.

Unique Dive Expeditions is only open to experienced divers (over 50 dives) who are comfortable in the water; divers must be able to swim against strong currents and deploy their own surface marker buoy in case they separate from the group. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any concerns or questions.

The Unique Boat

Enjoy Paul's premier dive sites with the Unique Dive Expeditions dive boat, built and designed to comfortably accommodate a maximum of 7 divers for exclusivity, small tailored groups and special unique dive expeditions. This customized 29 ft speedboat offers comfortable single seating with your individual private dry box. Each dry box can be used to store all your camera gear and accessories for our expeditions.

Full Moon Expedition

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For several days leading up to and around the full moon, two huge known aggregations of Red Snappers (Lutjanus bohar) aggregate, ready to spawn in two different locations. This events will lead us either to the historical island of Peleliu, or to remote dive sites east of Koror (divers' preferences and weather condition will determine which site will be visited).

Expeditions will start at Palau’s premier dive sites in preparation for the possibility of challenging conditions resulting from strong currents and early starts. However, rewards are high!

As the sun rises, we will begin the dive to watch the spectacle that is about to unfold. A huge aggregation of snapper will rise from the deep, to ensure the continuation of their species. Witnessing this natural behavior--which only can be described as an underwater firework display of energy and excitement--also attracts the biggest predators in Palau such as bull sharks and hammerheads.



2017 Full Moon Snapper Spawning Expedition Schedule

  • August- no expedition
  • Sep 2-5
  • Oct 2-5
  • Oct 31-Nov 3
  • Nov 30-Dec 3
  • Dec 29-Jan 1, 2018


2018 Full Moon Snapper Spawning Expedition Schedule

  • Dec 29, 2017-Jan 1, 2018
  • Jan 27-30
  • Feb 26-Mar 1
  • Mar 27-30
  • Apr 26-29
  • May 25-28
  • Jun 24-27
  • Jul 24-27
  • August – no expedition
  • Sep 21-24
  • Oct 21-24
  • Nov 19-22
  • Dec 25-28


New Moon Expedition

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One of the best loved sightings among divers is the Bumphead Parrot Fish (Bolbometopon muricatum). Often seen patrolling the reefs in schools of up to 20 or more, these encounters are favorites for many divers, but imagine an aggregation of nearly a thousand individuals!

The New Moon Expedition takes us to a remote dive site, where aggregations begin forming early in the morning. Awaiting the exact time for spawning, hundreds of Bumphead Parrot Fish from all around the area join one another for what is about to be an unforgettable event. 

Building up to this spectacular showdown, males begin their display of dominance, attempting to attract as many mating partners as possible. As females continue to gather, the school spills out into the blue where the tension erupts into a climatic mating dance.



2017 New Moon Bumphead Parrotfish Spawning Expedition Schedule

  • August- no expedition
  • Sep 16-19
  • Oct 16-19
  • Nov 14-17
  • Dec 14-17


2018 New Moon Bumphead Parrot Fish Spawning Expedition Schedule

  • Jan 13-16
  • Feb 12-15
  • Mar 13-16
  • Apr 12-15
  • May 11-14
  • Jun 10-13
  • Jul 9-12
  • August- no expedition
  • Sep 6-9
  • Oct 5-8
  • Nov 4-7
  • Dec 3-6


The Team

Sam's Tours' Unique Dive Expeditions was developed after years of data-gathering, scientific studies, experience and knowledge. The team behind Unique Dive Expeditions is led by Paul Collins, a marine biologist and videographer, and Richard Barnden, dive instructor and underwater photographer, who continue to find and study aggregations--both new and old--throughout Palau's rich waters. The team also comprises Matt Boyle and Jesse Alpert.

Paul Collins

An active marine researcher in Palau with a master's degree in Marine Science, Paul's interest in these aggregations--other than the spectacle of the event--is in why these aggregations happen at these locations. By researching these sites, documenting the behavior on video, and collecting additional information such as tidal movements and bathymetric data, Paul has been able to build a picture of these locations that he hopes will help him understand why these spectacular events happen at these special locations.

Richard Barnden

Leaving the cold waters of his homeland (UK) behind, Richard found shelter in the tropical waters of Palau. His fascination for all underwater life soon turned into an addiction in animal behavior, spawning aggregations and underwater photography. Over the next 6 years, Richard has had the great opportunity to work with some of the world's leading underwater scientists, photographers, and enthusiasts. It's not just a life style; it's a way of life for him to be able to share his knowledge with friends, divers and fellow guests.

Matt Boyle

Matt is obsessed with the ocean. Jokingly, he refers to himself as the amateur marine biologist. The more time he spends under the sea, the more he falls in love with it, with every dive revealing amazing new things. Yet with every new thing seen, a hundred questions turn up. Starting with Unique Dive Expeditions back in 2015 has allowed him to pursue these passions to his heart's content, with the support of his mentors, Paul and Richard. An avid tec diver, he is never happier than when he's out on his Rebreather learning about the ocean.

Jesse Alpert

Jesse finished his Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology at the University of Miami, Florida, and headed for Palau to be a guide for Sam's Tours and Unique Dive Expeditions in 2013. He has been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to work with, and be mentored by, Paul and Richard, both who offer extensive knowledge and experience of Palau and the dive industry. Working with the Unique Dive Expeditions team has allowed Jesse to see, guide, learn and educate others about rare events in Palau, as well as advance his own diving and photography skills.

Reservations

Please contact Sam's Tours' Reservations Desk at reservations@samstours.com for trip schedule and additional information. Our Reservations Team will gladly help you custom-build a package including accommodation and diving.