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Nicool

Member Since 08 Aug 2008
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 11:38 PM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: Christmas today? Not yet but Subal shipment arrived finally...

08 June 2018 - 03:47 AM

Nice!


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

In Topic: Coral whip goby

25 April 2018 - 11:05 PM

The first really is a great shot, i wish i had done it!


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

In Topic: avoiding red eyes in close-up fish portraits?

21 April 2018 - 05:03 AM

But lightroom used to work so well! I’ll get you some more stringent examples


Envoyé de mon iPhone en utilisant Tapatalk

In Topic: Tokina 10-17mm issue.....

19 April 2018 - 10:54 PM

hi Greg,

this happened to me with various fisheye/wide angle lenses and various acrylic domes

however i haven't faced the problem since i moved to a crystal Zen dome (i use the 100mm version on the same Tokina lens as you).

I've been told the Zen dome has some anti-reflective coating, so looks like it works


In Topic: South Pacific diving recommendations needed

19 April 2018 - 10:37 PM

Hi guys, sorry for the late replies, work has kept me busy...

 

I think you're confusing PNG with West Papua.

PNG is really a PITA to go from Europe, it's the epitome of far flung destination, believe me! That is why it is not so developped and you won't read much in european boards.

OTOH It takes two hours from Oz with a low cost carrier while you can't fly from anywhere else (except Manila) with another carrier than AirNiugini, which is considered like the most expensive carrier in the world.

Just to give you a hint from Europe, last year I flew Paris-HongKong, then HongKong Manila, overnighted in Manila, flew Manila Port Moresby, overnighted in POM, then flew domestic to Alotau. Compared to, flying to other places in SoPac is a breeze since it's almost direct or easily connecting like Fiji, NC, FP, etc.

I strongly urge you to go to PNG while you're based in Oz.

 

Well, if you read between the lines of some reports you will also find that FP is not very high on biodiversity. It's a bit like Maldives even more accentuated, and I 'm not a fan of Maldives either.

Add on top überexpensive life style, french inexperience for tourism and big resorts for american tourists.

 

 

Sharks are heavy in Beqa Lagoon since killing/hunting sharks is taboo in Fijian culture (it's one of their sea gods with octopii), so all kinds have been prosperous around.

Any local operation in Fiji will setup a shark attracting operation, nothing for the show just a way to meet them on specific places but where they have been around naturally for decades, it's not like creating an artificial feeding spot.

THose shark ops will allow you get up close an personals with bulls and sometimes with big mama tigers. You should check pics from Deepbubble (Giancarlo) on Flickr and ask him what was his recent diving experience with them like.

 

Unlike Bali, you can't go diving yourself on the Coolidge, it's a shore dive but the land where you start the diving from belongs to a dive op, be it Allan Power or another one. Since it's deep deco dives, you will be tied with the ops schedule.

that said, you'll be with your own guide who's going to show you how to dive and penetrate the wreck at different depths (from 25 to 60 and below...), I don't think you can call it crowded anyway (it's difficult to imagine Vanuatu as crowded).

 

Thanks for that Luko, indeed i was confused about PNG, it's now back on my list :)

The limited biodiversity of FP doesn't bother me, it's funny you're quoting Maldives because i actually wanted to dive there and focus a dive trip on "big stuff" encounters and FP would have been along those lines. However i see the prices now... to keep for later, or if a friend of mine goes back to dive there and is still ok for me to stay over a few nights :)

 

Thanks for the explanations on Beqa lagoon and Fidjian relationships to sharks, that's definitely comforting.

 

Nicolas,

 

Take a look at Uepi Island Resort (https://www.uepi.com/). Most of the dives we did were boat dives (because of the amazing sites around the Morovo Lagoon), however we did dive right off the dock a couple of times (both ingoing and outgoing tides). The wall below the dock is a really good dive... (and on an outgoing tide you'll end up drifting straight to Uepi Point, which (with the right conditions) is better than Blue Corner in Palau (by a long shot), both in diversity of sharks that show up and number of sharks. You do need a pretty strong current to bring the sharks into the point close enough to fill your frame, but we dived it 4 times, and twice it was magical. 
 

And you can absolutely shoot split shots in the mid-afternoon with blacktip reef sharks against the island, while you sit just over the drop off (usually with a grey reefies swimming under you as well). 

 

Downside is that it's 2 dives a day (maximum). They are so far away from a chamber that it wouldn't matter. Most Australians (or the few Euros that make it this far) just stay longer, so the two dives/day isn't much of a limitation (it's also why I ended up snorkeling with our kids every afternoon with the sharks - it was a lot of fun). One other interesting aspect - there is a manta cleaning station inside the lagoon (about 5 min away from the resort). They run an early morning snorkeling trip (pre-breakfast) to check out the mantas almost every day (when guests want to go). I did this on 3 successive mornings with our son and had 1-2 mantas in the water with us every time. There are a couple of different cleaning stations, so sometimes you have to do some swimming to find them (or hitch a ride on the boat), but it ended up being a nice early morning workout. We were told these were the reef manta species, but several that we saw were absolutely massive.

 

The reason I went back to the Solomons on the Bilikiki is I wanted to see some of the other parts of the island chain. You can do 4 dives/day on the Bilikiki, see more of the Solomons (and have a number of great dives). Best dive (for me) was Devils' Highway - where we had 20+ mantas feeding in the current and then exiting out of the current right over our heads - so close that couldn't even get an animal completely in the frame because they were too close). It's a trade off - more dives, or dive the Morovo Lagoon - both were great, but we loved Uepi - one of the best places we've ever dived.

 

As someone else mentioned - *much* easier to get to PNG from Australia than from Asia. You should look at Walindi Resort or the Febrina as really good options. Or if you like more rustic, the Chertan liveaboard. Great mix of dives with large animals, and then great reefs with huge diversity in corals & critters.

 

As others have said - French Polynesia is expensive, and lacks the diversity you see as you get closer to PNG, Philippines, and Indonesia, but they do have sharks (and in some places, many, many sharks). Fakarava (in particular) is both far enough off the beaten path that you won't see many other divers, but you will see lots o' sharks, and depending on where you are positioned near the pass, they will can in close enough to fill your frame (given the choice between Fakarava and Pohnpei (which is up in Micronesia, and harder to get to) I would choose Fakarava, but only because the dive operators are better/more professional). 

 

Last - Lord Howe Island is great for a quick getaway, but I wouldn't choose it over any of the other destinations mentioned by others (for a week long dive trip). It was great place to dive when you can't get a week off to go somewhere else. If you do go, ask the shop ahead of time about their trips to Ball's Pyramid - it's about a 45 min trip south of the island, and they only do it during calm weather - truly world class (and the opportunity to see all kinds of large marine animals, including several species of sharks & rays, and occasionally whales).

 

If you are really interested in shore diving in OZ, then you should start talking to some of the local shops. Most of the boat dives/liveaboards in Australia are aimed at foreign tourists - many of the locals dive from their own boats or shore dive. One location about an hour north of you (by plane) is Byron Bay (Julian Rocks, the best of Byron Bay is only accessible by boat however) - has very good diving, with many large animals (incl. sharks, rays, etc.). There is closer diving to Sydney, but not really for big stuff (but still very good, if you know where to go). Definitely a number of locations to shore dive, and the local shops all have their favorite areas to dive.

 

If you really want to shore dive in Australia, then you should look into what the locals call "caravan diving." Western Australia has some interesting reefs north of Perth, close to shore - lots of Aussies grab/rent a camper, a bunch of tanks, and basically camp & dive as they travel up the coast. The western coast is pretty wild - and you will see sharks (including many larger species). I went with a couple of friends on two different trips and we had some "up close and personal" encounters with several large shark species (incl. a couple where we felt it prudent to leave the water). There are enough dive shops along the way to fill tanks every few days, and there are a number of campers that bring their own portable compressors - so getting a fill isn't too hard.

 

One more comment on shore diving OZ - there is one additional dive in Australia you should look into, and very worth the effort. If you get the chance look into a trip to South Australia to dive with the Leafy Sea Dragons (we had the best luck in Rapid Bay). These are amazing creatures, and very unique to dive with.

 

Matt

Thanks again for those very precious advices on Oz diving Matt!! Your comparative feedbacks on the various places really helps driving my choices.

Byron Bay / Julian Rocks looks like a very nice place and accessible for me to go. From what i saw in various photos it has some sort of "Maldives taste": mantas, leopard sharks...

Just below Byron bay i've heard good things about North Solitary islands, but a local here told me he preferred Byron Bay for big stuff - have you tried both?

The Yongala seems amazing to, both a wreck, and very very lively... so much choices around, i feel lucky! But so little time...

I am now thinking i could combine Byron Bay + North Solitary Islands as one trip, or Yongala + Wolf Rock...

 

The caravan diving sounds cool, probably something i'll try with whole family when kids grow older.

I've heard about the leafies in South Australia indeed, but i am not that excited as i am lucky to see weedies in any dive i do here in Kurnell, and they are (almost) as beautiful as weedies ;)

 

I'll email Uepi resort for a quote. Their website is very nice... but i haven't seen prices, which to me isn't good news on that space :D

The 2 dives/day limit may not be a concern if it's just for decompression concerns -> with our rebreathers (provided the Uepi is RB-friendly) we can do 3 hours at 20 meters still in no-deco.

 

I went to Ningaloo last year and quite enjoyed it, the navy pier dive is excellent.  Diving is basically land based and you spend all day to do two dives with the boats I was on.  Most of the reefs you need a boat to get to.  Navy pier you'll be up close with groupers and big 1m long tuskfish, not shy at all, we had a 2m long sea snake there as well.  Visibility is not the greatest on the Navy Pier, we had vis like Sydney on a good day.  Tourist season is Australian winter; Feb-March is cyclone season and Exmouth gets hammered by cyclones regularly.  Water is 21-25° range in winter.  If you want warmer water you could go in April.  I dived with DiveNingaloo.

 

I'm booked to go to Halmahera (Weda dive resort) later this year (Nov) and conditions will still be good in Feb-Mar.  Look it up online and look at this video. 

Thanks for the Ningaloo recommendations Chris, it's also an option on my list though for the first 1 week trip if Australia i may focus on the east coast.

 

The Shark dive with Beqa Island Resort was very well run and I felt very safe. The local Fijian dive guilds know their sharks and were space around us to fend off the Tigers when they came in to close or from behind. They dive this site three times a week so know how to handle the sharks. Talking with them you can tell they are very passionate about the sharks and know them each of the Tigers by name. They only use their hands to push the sharks away because if they use the metal hooks they have the Tiger sharks don't like it. 

thanks for the experience sharing Crayfish, that sounds reasonably safe :D