West Papua Indonesia & Backyard

August 20, 2020:

Whale Rock, SE Misool:

In the mid-morning of March 23, 2020, we made the final dive of our cruise at Whale Rock, located near the western end of the Fiabacet Island Group of SE Misool.

I actually started my dive at nearby “Dugong Rock,” (a.k.a. Fiabacet 1), and swam towards Whale Rock, via an attractive submerged pinnacle, in minimal current and with outstanding underwater visibility. I concluded my dive in the shallows adjacent to Whale Rock.

Towards the end of the dive, I had a delightful prolonged encounter with a friendly Hawksbill Turtle, which I “shared” photographically with Trey. It was a great way to finish up a terrific series of 76 dives in the Bird’s Head Seascape of West Papua!

What an amazing region! How lucky was I to have had the opportunity to visit it once again! Hopefully, before too long, I’ll be able to return. We’ll see!

Until then, here is a final set of some of my favorite images from our dive at Whale Rock:

Seven different Reefscapes; and five photographs of the friendly Hawksbill Turtle, (two of them including Trey).

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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P.S.: I plan to devote my next several posts to images from two days of birding in Bali, which I actually did at the very beginning of my trip, prior to heading to West Papua.

Stay tuned!

August 19, 2020:

Gus Ridge, SE Misool:

Early in the morning on March 23, 2020, we began our final half-day of diving at Gus Ridge, hoping for one last Manta Ray encounter. The underwater visibility of greater than 100′ was awesome, and the current was mild-moderate.

At the beginning of the dive, I parked myself at the edge of the site’s deeper cleaning station, located at a depth of about 65′. As small schools of Bigeye Snapper and Blue & Yellow Fusiliers, and a large loose group of Redtooth Triggerfish swam by, I patiently waited, and waited, and waited for a Manta Ray to appear.

My patience was rewarded, when a large chevron Oceanic Manta Ray, and a small melanistic Oceanic Manta Ray, briefly visited the cleaning station towards the end of my dive. Thank you, once again, Mother Nature! You didn’t disappoint!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this dive at Gus Ridge:

Clown Triggerfish; six photographs of the large chevron Oceanic Manta Ray; three Reefscapes; and an image of Trey photographing the small melanistic Oceanic Manta Ray. (Did you notice the other three divers in this last photo?)

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 18, 2020:

Romeo, SE Misool:

We returned to Romeo for our night dive on March 22, 2020. It was the last night dive of the trip and was also a milestone dive for me, my 2000th logged dive!

Yanto and Frenghi were our guides for this dive, and they did their usual great job of spotting interesting creatures. Yanto found two more Raja Ampat Epaulette Sharks, but they both managed to hide in the reef before I could get a shot of either. A Great Barracuda and a Snowflake Moray Eel also managed to successfully elude my camera.

Nonetheless, it was a fun dive, and I was thrilled to have completed my 2000th dive!

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few of my favorite images from this night dive at Romeo:

Persian Carpet Flatworm; Pencil Urchin; two photographs of a Pygmy Seahorse; Leaf Scorpionfish; Green Sea Turtle; Pacific Sailfin Tang; and a Giant Moray Eel.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 17, 2020:

Nudi Rock, SE Misool:

In the mid-afternoon of March 22, 2020, we dove Nudi Rock, the middle islet in the Fiabacet Island Group of SE Misool.

I had dove this site numerous times previously. Just prior to this dive, I was informed that there was an attractive deep pinnacle adjacent to the east tip of Nudi Rock. I didn’t think that I had ever explored this pinnacle, so I decided to do so on this dive.

I descended to a depth of 90′ just east of Nudi Rock, but unfortunately I did not locate the pinnacle, despite excellent underwater visibility, and only mild-moderate current. After a few minutes of searching, I decided to surface, re-orient myself, and instead dive the submerged ridge extending from the west tip of Nudi Rock to Tank Rock. So I still haven’t dove the deep pinnacle just east of Nudi Rock!

Along the ridge, I encountered a pack of Longface Emperors and friends, mainly trevally, aggressively hunting on the reef. Two good-sized Grey Reef Sharks, and a small Blacktip Reef Shark, were patrolling the ridge.

I finished up my dive in the shallows near the edge of Nudi Rock, enjoying and photographing lovely Reefscapes.

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few of my favorite images from this dive at Nudi Rock:

Longface Emperors & Friends hunting on the reef; Napoleon Wrasse and Orange-Spotted Trevally; Blacktip Reef Shark; and three Reefscapes.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 16, 2020:

Gorgonian Passage, SE Misool:

We returned to Gorgonian Passage, (a.k.a. Neptune’s Fan Sea), for a late morning dive on March 22, 2020. This site is a drift dive along the wall on the west, or Wayilbatan Island, side of a relatively narrow channel between Wayilbatan and Walib Islands.

Though the current can be ripping in this channel, it was mild on this dive, and the underwater visibility of about 75′ was excellent. The current was flowing from the south, so we drifted Gorgonian Passage with the wall to our left.

When we dove the site eighteen days previously, a white Giant Frogfish had been hanging out on the wall. We hoped to find it again on this dive.

We spent the first part of the dive drifting along the wall, and subsequently exploring a couple of beautiful coral bommies on the channel floor, at a depth of about 70′. Then we turned our attention to finding the Frogfish.

Unfortunately, it was no longer located where it had been previously. But our sharp-eyed dive guides were undeterred, not wanting to be outsmarted by a Frogfish. After about ten minutes of searching, Andri found the Frogfish hiding on the wall, perched on a white sponge, quite far beyond where it had been previously. Way to go Andri!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this dive at Gorgonian Passage:

Six Reefscapes, with the penultimate one featuring an Emperor Angelfish; and four photographs of the Giant Frogfish.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 15, 2020:

Wedding Cake, SE Misool:

It was overcast and raining early in the morning of March 22, 2020, as Damai II headed towards the channel between Wayil and Wayilbatan Islands in SE Misool. Adjacent to a small islet in this channel is Wedding Cake, the site of our first dive of the day.

Due to the weather conditions, and the lack of good ambient light, I decided to make a “Macro” dive. Frenghi was our dive guide, in mild current and with good underwater visibility. As usual, he spotted interesting photographic subjects for us with regularity through the dive. It was a nice way to start our last full day of diving!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our early morning dive at Wedding Cake:

Nudibranch (Nembrotha sp.); Banded Coral Shrimp & Electric fileclam; Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse; Magenta Dottyback; Periclimenes Shrimp on a Cushion Sea Star; Polyclad Flatworm; Bicolor Angelfish; another Polyclad Flatworm; Hawksbill Turtle; a second Electric Fileclam; Clark’s Anemonefish; and a Crescent Wrasse.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 14, 2020:

Barracuda Rock, SE Misool:

Barracuda Rock was chosen for our night dive on March 21, 2020. This dive site is located near Wayilbatan Island, in SE Misool.

I dove with Andri, one of two excellent dive guides from Manado aboard Damai II. An overhanging wall and an adjacent sloping reef, were the topographical features of the dive site which we explored in mild-moderate current. Andri did his usual great job of spotting interesting photographic subjects!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our night dive at Barracuda Rock:

Black-Blotched Porcupinefish; Nudibranch (Tambja morosa); Tubastrea Coral; Polyclad Flatworm; Nudibranch; Banded Coral Shrimp; two more Nudibranchs, (the second of which is Flabellina exoptata); Colonial Tunicates; and three images of a Blue-Spotted Ribbontaill Ray.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 13, 2020:

Tank Rock, SE Misool:

In the afternoon of March 21, 2020, we dove Tank Rock, the dive site located adjacent to the small easternmost islet in the Fiabacet Island Group of SE Misool.

With minimal current, and excellent underwater visibility of about 75′, I decided to dive towards the West, exploring the submerged ridge connecting Tank and Nudi Rocks.

During my dive, I encountered many beautiful and fishy Reefscapes. Along the way, I noticed a couple of Grey Reef Sharks patrolling the ridge, though never approaching close enough for a decent photo op. It was a relaxing and lovely dive!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this dive at Tank Rock:

Twelve different Reefscapes; Scrawled Filefish; and a Napoleon Wrasse.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 12, 2020:

Gus Ridge, SE Misool:

We chose Gus Ridge for our late morning dive on March 21, 2020. This dive site, located adjacent to a small islet at the eastern tip of Warakaraket Island, is less frequently visited than many others. I believe this is because it may often be subjected to strong currents. However, during our dive the current was mild, and the underwater visibility was great!

Gus Ridge compromises two connected submerged ridges, and boasts at least two manta ray cleaning stations. So, of course, we were hoping for mantas. Once again we weren’t disappointed!

There were at least 3 or 4 Oceanic Manta Rays cruising around the dive site, presumably wanting to get into the cleaning stations. Therefore, I parked myself at the periphery of one of the cleaning stations, at a depth of about 60′ and waited. Unfortunately, 2 or 3 of my fellow divers apparently didn’t realize that it was a cleaning station, and spent much of their dive swimming within its confines. This precluded the mantas from flying on in, and greatly frustrated me. Only after the divers exited the cleaning station did the mantas swoop in.

Oh well! So it goes!

For your viewing pleasure, here are several of my favorite images from this dive at Gus Ridge:

Reefscape; and eight photographs of Oceanic Manta Rays. (The last two images each portray two mantas. Do you see the second one? The final image also includes Carlo. Can you find him?)

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 11, 2020:

Magic Mountain, SE Misool:

Early in the morning on March 21, 2020, we returned to Magic Mountain. The water conditions were ideal, with greater than 100′ underwater visibility and minimal current.

I devoted my dive to possible Manta Ray encounters, and spent the entire dive at the site’s main cleaning station. We were again visited by Oceanic Manta Rays. But this time there were only brief visits by three different Mantas. The remainder of the dive was uneventful.

So it goes! Over the years I’ve learned that you just have to be patient, and accept what Mother Nature provides for you. Sometimes your patience is greatly rewarded. On other occasions, like this dive, you just must be satisfied with a little less.

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few images of two of the three Oceanic Manta Rays which cruised by briefly during this dive at Magic Mountain.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 10, 2020:

Yilliet Kecil, SE Misool:

Our night dive on March 20, 2020, was at Yilliet Kecil, located in the Yilliet Island Group of SE Misool. I dove with Andri, one of two stellar dive guides from Manado aboard Damai II.

We explored the shallow, relatively flat part of the reef, which was adorned with scattered coral bommies. There was no current, so we could easily cruise anywhere we desired.

Andri did an excellent job spotting attractive photographic subjects. His best find was a Mosaic Boxer Crab. These crabs are really tiny, with a carapace only a few milimeters in diameter. Spotting one requires sharp, young eyes. As you will notice in the photo, this individual was even smaller than normal, because it was missing two legs and one of its anemone “boxing gloves.”

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this night dive at Yilliet Kecil:

Tasseled Scorpionfosh; Whitemargin Unicornfish; Mosaic Boxer Crab; Orangespine Unicornfish; White-Spotted Hermit Crab; Pleurobranch (Pleurobranchus forskalii); Nudibranch (Caloria indica); Emperor Shrimp on a Sea Cucumber; Gorgonion Squat Lobster; and a second Nudibranch (Nembrotha cristata).

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 9, 2020:

Boo West, SE Misool:

Early in the afternoon of March 20, 2020, we explored a dive site called Boo West, located adjacent to the westernmost islet in the Boo Island Group of SE Misool. The site comprises an attractive reef sloping down from the islet, as well as a lovely adjacent submerged pinnacle.

I spent most of my dive around the pinnacle, with good underwater visibility of about 75′ and mild-moderate current.

During the first part of my dive, I concentrated on Reefscapes. Subsequently, I observed and photographed a marauding pack of Smalltooth Emperors, accompanied by other fish species such as Orange-Spotted and Bluefin Trevally, frenetically hunting on the reef.

Towards the end of my dive, I encountered a relatively large Hawksbill Turtle, leisurely munching on colorful soft corals.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this dive at Boo West:

Five different Reefscapes; two photographs of the Smalltooth Emperors and friends hunting on the reef; and four images of the Hawksbill Turtle.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 8, 2020:

Magic Mountain, SE Misool:

Mid-morning on March 20, 2020, we dove at Magic Mountain, one of my favorite dive sites in all of Raja Ampat, located a short distance from the eastern tip of Warakaraket Island. We were hoping for Manta Rays. Once again we were lucky, and we were not disappointed!

The water conditions were awesome, with underwater visibility of greater than 100′, and minimal current.

Three Oceanic Manta Rays entertained us throughout our dive. The largest cruised around us for the entire dive. The second stayed for about a quarter of the dive. The third showed up at the end of our dive. They provided us with a really great show!

In between Manta Ray passes, the dive site’s main cleaning station was occasionally occupied by a large school of Blue & Yellow Fusiliers.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this dive at Magic Mountain:

Trey photographing an Oceanic Manta Ray; Schooling Blue & Yellow Fusiliers; three photographs of Oceanic Manta Rays; Schooling Blue & Yellow Fusiliers; and eleven additional images of Oceanic Manta Rays, with Carlo in three of them.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 7, 2020:

Boo Window, Boo Island Group, SE Misool:

Early on the morning of March 20, 2020, we dove Boo Window, one of Raja Ampat’s iconic dive sites, located in the Boo Islands of the Southeast Misool Region. The site is named for a series of adjacent “windows,” or short swim throughs, which pierce the islet from the water surface down to about a 15′ depth.

The water conditions were beautiful for our dive, with underwater visibility of more than 100′, and minimal current.

The highlight of my dive was another great encounter with a feeding Hawksbill Turtle, with which I spent a total of about 25 minutes. This turtle was happily and leisurely devouring a sponge for breakfast, and was a very accomodating photographic subject, permitting me to observe and photograph it at close range,

I spent the remainder of my dive photographing the “windows,” several lovely reefscapes, and schooling Bigeye Snapper.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our early morning dive at Boo Window:

Three photographs of the “Windows”; Reefscape; six images of the Hawksbill Turtle; another Reefscape; two more photographs of the Hawksbill Turtle; a trio of False Clown Anemonefish in a Magnificent Anemone; schooling Bigeye Snapper; three additional Reefscapes; and two more images of schooling Bigeye Snapper, with a Yellowmask Surgeonfish leading the school in the first of these.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 5, 2020:

Romeo, Yilliet Island Group, SE Misool:

Following our dive at Andy’s Ultimate on the afternoon of March 19, 2020, Damai II cruised a relatively short distance to the West, to the Yilliet Island Group, for a night dive. Our dive site was Romeo, adjacent to a small islet in the group.

This was one of the top night dives of the trip. I dove with Senior Dive Guide Yanto. Before the dive I requested that he find a couple of Raja Ampat Epaulette Sharks, since we had not yet seen any during the cruise. Once again, Yanto did not disappoint!

I had a little excitement at the beginning of the dive, when my stainless steel “dive stick” fell off the carabiner attaching it to my BC, and went careening down a relative steep slope. I dashed after it, and retrieved it at a depth of 107′, just before it hurtled into the abyss!

Subsequently, most of the rest of the dive was quite leisurely, with Yanto regularly finding nice photographic subjects. Towards the end of the dive, however, the pace picked up again, as Yanto discovered, not two, but four different skittish Raja Ampat Epaulette Sharks! Quite nice!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this excellent night dive at Romeo:

Clark’s Anemonefish & Single-Celled Algae; Crab; Nudibranch (Goniobranchus fidelis); Orange-Banded Coralfish; Nudibranch (Doriprismatica atromarginata); Pacific Double-Saddle Butterflyfish; two photographs of a Leaf Scorpionfish; Nudibranch (Nembrotha cristata); Redfin Butterflyfish; White-Spotted Hermit Crab; a trio of Crabs, (One Anemone Hermit Crab is obvious, the other two crabs are more difficult to perceive); three images of a Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark; Crab; and two images of another Raja Ampat Epaulette Shark.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 3, 2020:

Andy’s Ultimate, Daram Island Group:

In the mid-afternoon of March 19, 2020, we explored a dive site called “Andy’s Ultimate,” also located in the Daram Island Group of the Southeast Misool Region of Raja Ampat. The site is named for Andy Miners, co-founder of “Misool,” a beautiful eco resort located on relatively nearby Batbitim Island.

Andy’s Ultimate is a large, elongated coral reef, with steeply sloping sides. At the southwest tip of the reef, just above the bottom, at a depth of approximately 95′, is an overhang, with an associated small cave.

The reef top is relatively shallow, averaging a depth of about 20′, and is adorned with numerous attractive small bommies, covered with colorful soft corals. A huge Giant Tridacna Clam is embedded in the reef top.

We encountered terrific underwater visibility of more than 100′, and mild-moderate current during our dive.

For your viewing pleasure, here are ten of my favorite images from our dive at Andy’s Ultimate:

Eight different Reefscapes; and two photographs of the Giant Tridacna Clam, the second including my friend Trey.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 2, 2020:

Return To Andiamo:

We dove Andiamo once again for our late morning dive on March 19, 2020. This time, I explored the dive site’s submerged pinnacle, and then cruised partially around the westernmost islet in the Daram Group, concluding my dive in the impressive, relatively shallow adjacent hard coral garden.

The water conditions remained perfect, with greater than 100′ underwater visibility and minimal current.

While at the pinnacle, I concentrated on reefscapes. The shallow hard coral garden was teeming with fish, and they became my focus towards the end of the dive.

This dive was totally different from our first dive at Andiamo, but equally as good. This is a large and terrific dive site, warranting at least two dives!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our second dive at Andiamo:

Eight different Reefscapes; Unicornfish; a pair of Great Barracuda; two photographs of schooling Blackfin Barracuda; and three images of schooling Bigeye Snapper.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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August 1, 2020:

Andiamo Continued:

After swimming with the friendly Hawksbill Turtle, I spent the remainder of my March 19, 2020, early morning dive at Andiamo, admiring and photographing the beautiful submerged ridge portion of the dive site.

What a beautiful dive site! What a great dive!

For your viewing pleasure, here are images of eight of my favorite reefscapes from this dive at Andiamo.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 31, 2020:

Daram Islands, SE Misool Region, Raja Ampat:

Early in the morning on March 19, 2020, Damai II arrived in the remote Daram Island Group, of the Southeast Misool Region of Raja Ampat.

We decided to make our two morning dives at Andiamo (“Let’s Get Going!”), a large and exquisite dive site incorporating the two small westernmost islands of the Daram Group. This dive site offers a stunningly beautiful reef, ridge, and submerged pinnacle, as well as a lovely shallow hard coral garden. In addition, Andiamo is quite fishy!

The underwater visibility of more than 100′ was awesome for both of our dives at Andiamo. There was also minimal current, allowing for easy navigation of the dive site.

Right at the beginning of our early morning dive, I encountered a large Hawksbill Turtle, calmly cruising the reef, occasionally stopping for a leisurely bite of sponge or gorgionian. Absorbed with its eating, the Turtle was oblivious to my presence, and allowed me to approach and remain quite close. I spent the first 20 minutes of my dive with this Hawksbill Turtle, and observed several cycles of eating, swimming, and surfacing for a breath of air.

At one point, when returning from the surface, the Turtle became fascinated by its own reflection in my domeport. It was a wonderful photographic opportunity, in a beautiful setting!

I have devoted this entire post to images of my Hawksbill Turtle friend. In my next post, I will cover the remainder of this first dive at Andiamo.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 30, 2020:

Pisang Islands Finale:

Before leaving the Pisang Islands, we explored an Unamed Dive Site, beginning at dusk on March 18, 2020. It was a relaxing end to a full diving day, with excellent visibility and no current.

For your viewing pleasure, here are several of my favorite images from this dive:

Corallimorphs; Feather Duster Worm; Black-Backed Butterflyfish; Orange-Banded Coralfish; Anemone; Lion’s Paw Sea Cucumber; and Eastern Triangular Butterflyfish.

At the conclusion of the dive, Damai II set sail for the Southeast Misool Region of Raja Ampat, where we would be diving for the next five days.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 29, 2020:

Pisang Islands Continued:

For our third dive of the day, in the mid-afternoon of March 18, 2020, we remained at T-Bone Reef. I stuck with Macro photography, and with ace dive guide Yanto.

Once again, Yanto found a small Frogfish. This one was even quicker than the Frogfish on the previous dive. It scrambled back into the reef before I could even attempt one photograph! Not a good cooperator!

Nonetheless, we found additional interesting subjects to photograph. For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this encore dive at T-Bone Reef:

Soft Coral Crab; a pair of Electric Fileclams; Squarespot Anthias; a second Soft Coral Crab; Threadfin Hawkfish; Yellowbarred Jawfish; Arrow Crab & Scorpionfish; Juvenlie Scorpionfish; Clark’s Anemonefish; and a Nudibranch laying eggs.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 28, 2020:

More From The Pisang Islands:

During our late morning dive at T-Bone Reef on March 18, 2020, I continued with Macro photography. Thanks largely to the excellent spotting skills of Yanto, the senior dive guide aboard Damai II, there were several nice subjects to photograph.

My favorite of Yanto’s finds was a small, pink Freckled Frogfish, which had been well-hidden in the reef. Unfortunately, even though I was right there when Yanto found it, the Frogfish got the better of me. Immediately, it very swiftly dove back into the reef and hid once again. I was only able to fire off two mediocre shots of the Frogfish, one of which I have included in this post for documentation purposes. Oh well, so it goes!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this dive at T-Bone Reef:

Two Nudibranchs (Chromodoris sp.); another Nudibranch (Goniobranchus sp. 20); the sneaky Freckled Frogfish; Single-Celled Algae (Valonia ventricosa); Crowned Coral Crab; Magenta Dottyback; Painted Spiny Lobster; a pair of Stimpson’s Snapping Shrimp in a Crinoid; and a Periclimenes Shrimp on a Sea Star.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 27, 2020:

Pisang Islands:

We spent March 18, 2020, diving in the Pisang Islands. For our early morning dive, we returned to the dive site called Lighthouse.

We encountered minimal current, and excellent underwater visibility of more than 100′ on our dive. This was a “Macro” dive for me, and I concentrated mainly on fish portraits.

You may recall that Lighthouse is where Cruise Director, Carlo Calderaro, had found a Sargassum Fish twelve days earlier. I hoped that we would be lucky and find it again. I spent the end of my dive scowering the water surface, but unfortunately found no Sargassum Weed in which to search. So it goes!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our dive at Lighthouse:

A trio of False Clown Anemonefish; Periclimenes Shrimp on a Sea Star; a colony of Christmas Tree Worms; Squarespot Anthias; two Nudibranchs (Chromodoris willani); Pygmy Seahorse; Threadfin Anthias; Bicolor Angelfish; Redtooth Triggerfish; Pixy Hawkfish; a pair of Twotone Dartfish; two Bluestreak Gobies; and a Wrasse.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 26, 2020:

Momon Sea Mount Finale:

We dove the Momon Sea Mount for a third, and final, time early in the afternoon on March 17, 2020. Once again, the underwater visibility was excellent. However, during this dive the current was ripping!

It was quite a good workout for me, particularly since I was lugging my bulky camera rig, which behaves like a spinnaker sail when exposed to a strong current.

The large school of Bigeye Trevally was still cruising around, relatively effortlessly compared to me. Despite the current, somewhat surprisingly I managed to navigate back to the Manta Ray cleaning station. Unfortunately, no Manta was there to greet me this time. Oh well!

After we were all back on board following our dive, Damai II weighed anchor and began to cruise back to the Pisang Islands, where we planned to spend the next day.

Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, here are several of my favorite images from our final dive at the Momon Sea Mount:

Schooling Bigeye Trevally; two Reefscapes; schooling Bigeye Trevally; and two additional Reefscapes.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 25, 2020:

Momon Sea Mount Continued:

Awesome underwater visibility persisted at the Momon Sea Mount during our mid-morning dive on March 17, 2020. The current had picked up some, and was now mild to moderate, though still manageable.

I encountered a large school of Bigeye Trevally during my dive, and again enjoyed lovely, predominantly hard coral, reefscapes.

The dive site includes at least one Manta Ray cleaning station. At the end of my dive, I was briefly visited by a moderate-sized Oceanic Manta Ray at this cleaning station!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our second dive at the Momon Sea Mount:

Two photographs of Schooling Bigeye Trevally; two Reefscapes; and four images of an Oceanic Manta Ray.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 24, 2020:

Momon, West Papua, Indonesia:

March 17, 2020, was a sunny and calm day in the Momon Area. The favorable weather enabled us to spend the day diving the Momon Sea Mount. This is a relatively large dive site, which is quite exposed to the elements. We had been unable to dive it on the prior cruise, due to squally conditions.

The water conditions were also great this time! The underwater visibility of more than 100′ was superb. We experienced light current on our early morning dive.

For me, the reefscapes and schooling fish were the outstanding features of the Momon Sea Mount. In particular, the hard corals, especially the Acropora species, were impressive. We encountered schooling Longfin Spadefish, Bigeye Trevally, and Fusiliers during our dive.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our initial dive at the Momon Sea Mount:

Six different Reefscapes; schooling Longfin Spadefish; and three additional Reefscapes.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 22, 2020:

Namatote Strait Whale Shark Finale:

On March 16, 2020, by the end of my third long dive with the Whale Sharks in the Namatote Strait, I was hungry and tired. But I was also exhilarated and content! What a great day! How often do you have an opportunity to spend so much time in the water with four obliging Whale Sharks?

I also had over a thousand Whale Shark photographs from these dives to review!

Once everyone was back on board after the last dive, Damai II weighed anchor and started cruising back to the Momon Area, where we would spend the next day diving.

Before we get to that, however, for your viewing pleasure, here are ten additional Whale Shark images from my final dive in the Namatote Strait.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 21, 2020:

Whale Sharks Yet Again!:

It’s another day for Whale Shark images from the Namatote Strait!

For your viewing pleasure, here are ten more photographs from my second and third dives on March 16, 2020.

I plan to wrap up the Whale Shark dives tomorrow, and to then move on.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 20, 2020:

More Namatote Strait Whale Sharks!:

Today we continue with additional Whale Shark images from the Namatote Strait.

For your viewing pleasure, here are ten additional photographs from the end of my first dive, and the beginning of my second dive, on March 16, 2020.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 19, 2020:

Namatote Strait Whale Sharks!:

Early on the morning of March 16, 2020, Damai II cruised back to the Namatote Strait, once again searching for whale sharks.

Cruise Director, Carlo Calderaro, successfully located a fishing bagan that was being visited by whale sharks, and it was Game On!

As previously, on March 10th, when we were last in the Namatote Strait, there were four whale sharks swimming around the bagan. This time, three of the whale sharks were relatively large, each approximately 30′ in length. One was smaller, around 20′ long. This smaller individual, and one of the larger whale sharks, were among the four that had visited us six days earlier.

Once again, the conditions were ideal! It was mostly sunny, the underwater visibility was quite good, and there was minimal current. Furthermore, on this occasion, we had the entire day to dive with the whales sharks, and they obliged us by staying around the bagan all day!

I made three long dives, and was in the water with the whale sharks for more than five hours. It was a great day!

To start with, for your viewing pleasure, here are ten whale shark images from my first dive of the day.

More to follow! Stay tuned!

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 17, 2020:

Final Triton Bay Dive:

We returned to Bo’s Rainbow, one of my favorite Triton Bay dive sites, for our afternoon dive on March 15, 2020.

Once again, I had the opportunity to admire the beautiful coral bommies, explore the swim through, cruise the miniwall, and swim with the resident school of curious and amusing Longfin Spadefish.

It was a long and relaxing dive, and a perfect way to wind up our stay in this magical area!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from this dive at Bo’s Rainbow:

Two Reefscapes; two views of the Swim Through, one including dive guide Franghi; two photographs of schooling Longfin Spadefish; and two final Reefscapes.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 16, 2020:

Watch Out for Falling Rocks!:

Batu Jatuh, (Falling Rocks), which we dove late in the morning on March 15, 2020, is a less frequently dived Triton Bay site, located towards the north end of the Iris Strait, near the northeast corner of Aiduma Island.

This dive site is different from others in the area. It has interesting topography, comprising a sand slope, from which project occasional, large, multilevel underwater rock formations, featuring many interstices. The reef is generally less vibrant than those at neighboring sites, though it features prominent stands of green Tubastrea Coral, much Black Coral, (actually orange in color), and robust Acropora Corals.

We experienced minimal current, and only fair visibility of about 50′, during our dive. Batu Jatuh was an interesting dive, mainly for its topography. With so many hiding places in the rock formations, I believe that it might be an excellent night dive.

In any case, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of my favorite images from our dive at Batu Jatuh:

Tasseled Scorpionfish; Tasseled Wobbegong Shark; Reefscape; Barramundi Cod; and two additional Reefscapes.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 15, 2020:

Last Day of Diving at Triton Bay:

On March 15, 2020, our final dive day at Triton Bay, Damai II moved back up to the north end of the Iris Strait. In the early morning, we dove once again at Little Komodo, one of my favorite Triton Bay dive sites, located at the southern tip of Saruenus Island.

As usual, Little Komodo did not disappoint, affording us another great dive! During our exploration of the wall, and the adjacent sloping reef and coral bommies comprising the site, we experienced mild to moderate current, sufficient to open up most of the soft corals. The underwater visibility of at least 75′ was excellent.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a representative collection of my favorite Reefscapes from our dive at Little Komodo.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 14, 2020:

More From Triton Bay:

For our afternoon dive on March 14, 2020, we remained towards the south end of the Iris Strait. Christmas Rock, (a.k.a. Tim Rock), a small islet near the southeast tip of Aiduma Island, was our dive site.

A sloping reef studded with numerous small, attractive and colorful coral bommies, surrounds this rock. Schooling Bigeye and Papuan Snapper cruised the site during our dive, which featured excellent underwater visibility of at least 75′, and mild to moderate current.

I chose to spend most of my dive photographing compelling reefscapes.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our dive at Christmas Rock:

Ten different Reefscapes; schooling Bigeye Snapper; and a pair of Longfin Bannerfish.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 12, 2020:

Still at Batu Dramai:

Since our early morning dive was so good, we decided to stay at Batu Dramai for a second morning dive on March 14, 2020.

At the suggestion of Cruise Director, Carlo Calderaro, I spent most of my dive at a deep pinnacle, located in the southeast quadrant of the dive site. It took me a few minutes to find this pinnacle, located at a depth of 90′. But the advice was excellent, and search was well worth it!

The pinnacle itself was attractive. In addition, it hosted large schools of Yellowmask Surgeonfish, Slender Pinjalo Snapper, and Papuan Snapper. The latter were somewhat skittish and difficult to approach closely. The other two schools, however, were more easily approachable.

When my Nitrox supply started getting low, I departed the pinnacle and ascended to the adjacent shallows. Here I finished up my dive, photographing schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish being hunted by impressive Giant Trevally.

Combined with minimal current, and excellent underwater visibility of 75′, all of this fish life made for another memorable dive at Batu Dramai!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our second dive at Batu Dramai:

Schooling Slender Pinjalo Snapper & Yellowmask Surgeonfish; Napolean Wrasse; two additional photographs of schooling Slender Pinjalo Snapper & Yellowmask Surgeonfish; Schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish; schooling Slender Pinjalo Snapper; schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish; schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish & Slender Pinjalo Snapper; schooling Slender Pinjalo Snapper & Papuan Snapper; two more images of schooling Slender Pinjalo Snapper & Yellowmask Surgeonfish; schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish; and Giant Trevally hunting schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 10, 2020:

Triton Bay Reprise:

Batu Dramai is the southernmost dive site in the Triton Bay Area. Situated at the southern tip of the Iris Strait, it is somewhat exposed, and can only be dived when water conditions permit.

During our previous Damai II cruise, we were unable to dive the site, because the water was always too rough. Although it was socked in and pouring rain early in the morning on March 14, 2020, the ocean was calm, allowing us to dive Batu Dramai. I was really glad that we were finally able to explore this excellent dive site!

Batu Dramai is a small islet, traversed by a shallow water swim through, similar to Bo’s Rainbow, though this swim through is considerably wider. Numerous pinnacles project up from the sloping reef surrounding the islet.

There was minimal current during our dive, so most of the soft corals at the site were not open. It didn’t matter, however, because the dive was all about FISH! Large schools of Yellowmask Surgeonfish and Bluestreak Fusiliers, and smaller schools of Slender Pinjalo Snapper and Yellowfin Goatfish cruised the site. Adding to the action were packs of massive Giant and Bluefin Trevally hunting these schools. The result was a great dive!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our early morning dive at Batu Dramai:

Two photographs of Schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish; Yellowmask Surgeonfish schooling along with Slender Pinjalo Snapper; three additional images of schooling Yellowmask Surgeonfish; schooling Slender Pinjalo Snapper; Swim Through; Schooling Bluestreak Fusiliers; Giant and Bluefin Trevally hunting schooling Bluestreak Fusiliers; schooling Bluestreak Fusiliers; schooling Bluestreak Fusiliers and Yellowmask Surgeonfish; and a pair of False Clown Anemonefish in a Magnificent Anemone.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 9, 2020:

Triton Bay Continued:

In the mid-afternoon of March 13, 2020, we dove Froggies, a “muck” dive site located in a narrow channel in the northeast corner of the Iris Strait.

The site comprises a gently sloping, generally featureless, sandy bottom, with an adjacent colorful, sponge-encrusted wall. There was minimal current, and fair visibility of about 40′ during our dive.

As is customary for “muck” diving, I dove Froggies as a “Macro” dive. It was a relaxing and productive finale to a nice diving day.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our dive at Froggies:

Red-Margin Shrimpgoby; Red-Margin Shrimpgoby & Alpheid Shrimp; a pair of Orange-Dashed Gobies; a pair of Damselfish; three Goatfish; Black-Saddled Toby; Damselfish; schooling Toothy Cardinalfish; a pair of Nosestripe Sandperch; Saddleback Anemonefish; Holthuis’ Anemone Shrimp; Pleurobranch; Shrimpgoby & Alpheid Shrimp; Blackfin Sandperch & Fileclam; Common Seahorse; Nudibranch (Armina sp. 3); Sandperch; and a Variable Thorny Oyster.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 7, 2020:

More From Triton Bay:

Bo’s Rainbow was the dive site chosen for our late morning dive on March 13, 2020. This site is a small islet, located at the north end of the Iris Strait, near where it joins the southeast tip of Triton Bay.

The islet is traversed by a wide swim through, just beneath the water’s surface. Small lush bommies, covered with soft corals of every color of the rainbow, dot the adjacent gently sloping reef.

We experienced mild current, and only fair underwater visibility of about 50′ during our dive.

For your viewing pleasure, here are several of my favorite images from this dive at Bo’s Rainbow:

Swim Through; Reefscape; Schooling Longfin Spadefish; Reefscape; Lionfish; and three additional Reefscapes.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 6, 2020:

Back to Triton Bay:

After a two-day layover in Kaimana Harbor, Damai II headed back to Triton Bay on March 12, 2020.

Early the following morning, we chose to dive at one of our favorite Triton Bay dive sites, Little Komodo, located at the north end of the Iris Strait, near the northeast corner of Aiduma Island. We were not disappointed!

The water conditions were great! The underwater visibility was excellent, at about 75′. The current ranged from mild to moderate, and was manageable. The soft corals were open, as were most of the Tubastrea corals. Consequently, the reefscapes were simply stunning!

For you viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite images from our March 13, 2020 dive at Little Komodo:

Seven reefscapes; a pair of Longfin Bannerfish & a Six-Banded Angelfish; and two additional reefscapes.

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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July 5, 2020:

Namatote Strait Finale:

For your viewing pleasure, here is a final set of images from my second whale shark dive in the Namatote Strait, on the morning of March 10, 2020.

This was the last dive of an excellent cruise aboard Damai II. After everyone was back on board, we headed northwest out of the Namatote Strait, to the port town of Kaimana.

Over the next couple of days, while at Kaimana, the crew worked tirelessly to prepare Damai II for the return trip to Sorong. I rested and relaxed, and got ready for another great diving experience on the world-class reefs of West Papua’s Bird’s Head Seascape!

Enjoy!

Stay safe, and have a great day!

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