Fish 'n Fins - History
The Early Days of Diving Palau
In the 1960's, Jacques Yves Cousteau and his famous ship the Calypso visited Palau. In his journal, Cousteau reported that Palau's colorful Underwater Walls and Drop Offs were, in his opinion, the best in the world. This put Palau on the map of the budding diving community.
Young and curious Palauan, Francis Toribiong, became fascinated with the new SCUBA invention that Cousteau, and later, other scientists, brought to the island. Having spent his childhood fishing and snorkeling the reefs around Palau, Francis helped the SCUBA diving scientists to navigate the waters, and learned to dive himself. In 1965, he became one of the first Palauans to experience the underwater wonders below his home.
In 1972 Francis, now a newly graduated anthropologist from the University of California, brought the first dive compressors and SCUBA tanks to Palau. He then opened Fish 'n Fins, the first dive shop in Palau. Above photo: Francis examines a sextant from a sunken WWII wreck
Fish 'n Fins: Pioneering Palau's Waters
Francis used his new dive center Fish 'n Fins to start systematically exploring the reefs and the lagoon. What he discovered was beyond imagination. He actually rounded the corner for the first time to discover Blue Corner, the most famous dive in the world. Imagine the exhilaration to discover such a place, pulsing with diverse life. Sites such as Blue Corner, Peleliu Corner, and Ngemelis Wall all became synonymous with Francis' name for many years.
In the early and mid 1980's Francis Toribiong and Fish 'n Fins, along with Klaus Lindemann, began the task of finding and documenting a fleet of lost Japanese war ships, dubbed the "Lost Fleet of the Rock Islands," sunk on March 30 and 31 st , 1944, during the US Operation "Desecrate I." Over a period of a few years, Klaus and Francis, rediscovered over 30 Japanese WWII wrecks. Together they also completed the documentation of the military operation "Desecrate I.' Klaus Lindemann published the book Desecrate 1 on the discovery of the Fleet and became famous for his expertise on this part of military history. Above photo: Francis dives the Gozan Maru after its discovery (photo by Klaus Lindeman)
Continuing the Movement
In the late 1980's Francis and Fish 'n Fins supported scientist Bill Hamner in the research of the Jellyfish Lake and other Marine Lakes in Palau. In 1996, Francis became the star of the Academy Award nominated IMAX documentary film, "The Living Sea," which focuses on the incredible wonders in the living sea of Palau.
In August 1998, Francis Toribiong retired from Fish 'n Fins after 25 years of diving, exploration and providing outstanding diving services to Palau visitors. However he can still be seen visiting Fish 'n Fins frequently. He left Fish 'n Fins in the best hands he could find, those of his friends and partners in diving Palau: Tova and Navot Bornovski.
Fish 'n Fins and the Bornovskis
In 1998 the Bornovskis carried on the torch from Francis. Tova and Navot were already diving experts on Palau with great reputation from working with Francis and running the world acclaimed liveaboard Ocean Hunter. Their vision as to built Fish 'n Fins dive center from the ground up and prepare it to the 21st century. They completely renovated Fish 'n Fins and, with much time, energy and resources, turned it into the modern, state-of-the-art Dive Center that it is today. They have made Fish 'n Fins a business where everyone is family, and carried on the tradition of safety, pioneering and excellent service to divers and visitors. Today, Fish 'n Fins is recognized by divers, agents and magazines as one of the most professional diving center in the world! Right photo : Bornovski family at sea.