Fish 'n Fins - Dive Sites - Teshio Maru

Photo by Stuart WestmorlandPhoto by Stuart Westmorland

Location: Rael Edeng Reef in the western lagoon of Palau.
Distance from Koror: 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of the Palau Pacific Resort. 15 minutes by speedboat.
Visibility: Usually the visibility is very good at this site, but can vary between 30 to 90 feet (10 to 30 meters).
Level of Diving Experience: Wreck Diver Certification is mandatory if penetrating the wreck. This dive requires careful monitoring of bottom time and air consumption.
Diving Depth Summary: The ship is on her starboard side facing southwest in 75 to 80 feet (23 to 24 meters) of water. The port side is only 45 feet from the surface.
Currents: None to Moderate

General Information: Type: Japanese Army Cargo Ship
Length: 321.4 feet (98 meters).
Beam: 44.9 feet (13.7 meters).
Tonnage: 2,820 tons.
Built: 1942 –1944, shipbuilder unknown.

The Teshio Maru along with several other ships tried to escape Palau waters ahead of Operation DESECRATE ONE on March 30, 1944 when she was disabled. She was headed north to the Toachel Mlengui Passage when she was strafed and bombed. Although not directly hit, she was crippled when the stern was staved in and the prop shaft bent by a bomb exploding along side the ship. The ship drifted along the main channel until it was beached on the reef. After being beached for a number of years, the Teshio Maru slipped off the reef and sank parallel to the underwater coral slope, coming to rest on her starboard side. After the war, while the ship was still on the reef, she was salvaged.
Photo by Stuart Westmorland
Reef Formation: Coral slope with a sandy bottom.

Marine life: Staghorn corals, plate corals, whip corals, black corals cover the wreck. Barracuda, Jacks, Groupers, Fusiliers, Anthias and other reef fish abound in and around the structures of the Teshio Maru.

Diving: Penetration of this wreck is not advised because the structures are very unstable. The wreck, one of the most beautiful in Palau, attracts an abundance of fish and is covered by various species of hard coral. Lighting, corals and fish life make this wreck a photographers dream.

Fascinating Facts: According to author and WWII wreck expert, Dan Bailey, the Teshio Maru had been bombed and strafed while on a re-supply run to Wewak, New Hollandia. This occurred just weeks before she was fatally crippled in Palau tying to out run U.S. Navy pilots during Operation DESECRATE ONE. IMPORTANT: On this ship, as with all ship and plane wrecks in Palau waters, live ammunition can be found. A work of caution: DO NOT PICK UP ANY AMMUNITION!!!! Due to the age of the bullets, bombs, mortars, etc., these pieces of history are very unstable and can explode.

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