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Iro Maru, Palau

The Iro is perhaps the most famous wreck in Palau and is a classic war wreck in every sense of the word. 470ft long and weighing 14,050 tons, Iro was one of a fleet of 10 Shiretoko class freighters (her sistership Sata is ironically resting only a few hundred yards away across Palau´s Western Lagoon). She sank on 31 March 1944 and rests upright on a silt and sand bottom 130ft blow the surface. On a good day you can see the topmost portions of the wreck from a boat, and once you enter the water you can clearly see her magnificent kingposts dropping down away towards the deck in 90ft of water. Her kingposts are festooned in zigzag clams, soft corals and other invertebrae. From the deck these magnificent structures with their crossbraces make fantastic natural light photographic images. Forward on the bow is a spectacular 5½ gun on a large circular mounting; both the barrel and armoured shield are covered in black coral trees. The deck is covered in the remains of clams that have died and been forced off the superstructure above. Here I found cavorting nudibranchs and giant mushroom corals playing host to a variety of crustacea, fish and brittlestars. The main bridge superstructure sits aft of the forward kingpost and the main forward cargo hold. Here can be found black coral trees, lionfish and numerous anemones, including their attractive greenish bubble anemones,home to one of the most attractive anemone, the tomato clownfish. You can enter the bridge, though the telegraph and all the instrumentation has long since been stripped out. From the bridge superstructure you can access companionways on the starboard side can be accessed, off which crews quarters can be seen. Towards the stern we found an old gas mask. At the stern an identical gun to that at the bow can be seen. When the visibility is good (and sometimes it isn\\\\´t!) she is one of the world\\\\´s great shipwrecks.

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