Damsels and cardinalfish surround soft corals and sponges on a wreck mast in Truck Lagoon

On February 17th and 18th 1944, the US navy launched a crippling air attack on the Japanese Imperial Fleet located inside the sheltered waters of Truk (Chuuk) Lagoon in Micronesia. The assault, code-named “Operation Hailstone”, was multiple times more powerful than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  After the smoke cleared, the lagoon became the final resting place for 16 naval ships, 32 transport and merchant ships, two submarines and more than 280 aircraft.

Truk Lagoon is an underwater museum. Most divers are lured here by the history, the artifacts and the thrill of wreck penetration. But not every diver only has a “lust for rust”. The life and color that surround these impressive historic structures can be equally as exciting.

Truk soft coral wreck scene
Gorgonians, sponges and cardinalfish make a colorful scene on a wreck in Truk Lagoon.

Truk lagoon is home to over 500 species of hard and soft corals and 1000 fish species. These wrecks are thriving with marine life. Forests of soft coral swarming with blue damsels drape the posts and masts. An abundance of fish species surround fields of hard corals and macroalgae that cover the hulls. Schools of jacks and longface emperors make sudden appearances to hunt on glassfish and fusiliers. Interestingly, each wreck has a slightly different biotope, depending on its location.

Truk’s wrecks certainly rank among the most colorful and diverse artificial reefs I have ever seen and are a great place to photograph fish life (spawning, hunting, schooling, fish larvae and juveniles). The marine life may not be as speciose as famous dive areas in the Coral Triangle, such as Raja Ampat or the Solomon Islands, but still offers lots of new discoveries for fish nuts like myself. I was able to add several new fish species to my database. A big thanks to Odyssey Adventures for providing this 7-day trip as a contest prize. Few boats I have been on provide a better mix of service and comfort and time and flexibility underwater. Here’s some of the fish life you might see diving on the wrecks in Truk Lagoon:

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