Biodiversity Cruise Indonesia Alor and Gunung Api
Biodiversity cruise started in maumere indonesia and ended in sorong. Cruising overnight to the alor area. Alor diving is reefs on a slope for the most part. Reefs covered with very few bare patches. Very healthy reefs. Many small fish and creatures to photograph. Currents steady but not vicious so photography is easy. Macro and close focus wide angle is the type of photography i found on the sites. Visibility is 85 feet most days. Cruising overnight to Gunung Api volcano for two dives with the highlight being sea snakes. A very healthy reef system but hard to concentrate with wide angle scenics with sea snakes swimming very close to you. Very clear visibilty. Crossing to Gunung Api very smooth.
Flights from bali to maumere was with Wings air. Flight on atr72 aircraft. Good aircraft. Check in baggage weight 15 kilo. Any extra weight is paid in the bali airport. Office is a little hard to find as they are undergoing renovations in bali airport so signage was not good. No problems with added weight just pay for how heavy your bag is over limit. Carry on luggage they never asked how much it weighed which is good as camera bag is 11 kilo and carry on weight is 7 kilo. On aircraft bins above seats are very small but a space at the back of aircraft inside is where all the oversize carryon luggage went. Flight crews were very careful with camera bag so no problem. Maumere airport terminal is still being built. No luggage conveyor working. Tiling, electrical, windows, doors and just about everything else is still to be done. It is a bare shell right now. Overnighted at sea world beach club. Basic room but comfy. Dinner and breakfast was very good but not everything was available. Depends on the grocery stores supplies.
Biodiversity Cruise Indonesia Banda Islands
Biodiversity cruise part two. The Banda islands. The Banda island diving has a variety of diving types. Walls with very shallow reef tops. Sloping reefs and inside the harbour of banda we dove an old lava flow now covered with a reef. The night dive was inside the harbour on a muck dive site. A land tour of the town and fort as well as a nutmeg plantation. Currents ranged from none to slight so photography was easy. Highlight of one dive was mating octopus. Fish life was good but there was a few fishing boats seen in the area. Visibilty ranged from 85 feet to muck dive visibilty. Divesites have to be carefully selected as the current will rain sand particles over yourself if you do the wrong side of the reef. A very good liveaboard crew does take all the weather and sea conditions when picking the site. Crossing from Guung Api volcano to Banda Island very smooth. Depending on the speed of the liveaboard this crossing is between 16-24 hours.
Biodiversity Cruise Indonesia Misool
Biodiversity Cruise Indonesia Misool area. Cruise from Banda island took 16 hours. Smooth crossing. Misool area has many small islands covered with vegetation. The current funnels through these areas so on some sites there is alot of current. The depth of the water between island is 125 feet deep which makes anchoring boat easy but the sand bottom brings a bit of sand into the water column so visibility on most days is 60 feet. Macro or wide angle closeup unless you get a good visibility day. The reefs are very healthy with no bare patches. As we get into the raja ampat area we are now finding many new species to photograph. Misool Eco resort and the local communities in 2005 established a marine protection zone which forbids fishing and the taking of turtle eggs. Working with the local communities the reefs are starting to have more fish and bigger fish. Sharks are now being seen and turtles more frequent sightings. It is very noticeable the work they are doing. Full compliments to Misool Eco resort and the local communities as the heavy fishing is the foreign fishing fleets coming in and taking everything is the problem. Not the local fishermen who fish for their families. No fishing boats seen in the misool area. Misool Eco resort also has all the liveaboards check in with them so no more than one boat at each site. We had five liveaboards and misool eco resort and there was no more than one boat at each site. Its a very large area with many divsites. As we get closer to the equator we start to get rain showers just about every afternoon. Usually a short heavy rain shower then sunny skies again. Water temperature is 82 degree.
Biodiversity Cruise Indonesia Raja Ampat Waigeo
Biodiversity Cruise Indonesia Raja Ampat Smooth crossing from Misool to Batanta. Batanta is muck dive sites which was pretty good for visibility as the bottom has some gravel but can get kicked up with some divers fins. Very little current. Nudibranchs and octopus was the highlights of the sites. Crossed over to Waigeo. Waigeo dive sites has pinnacles in the middle of dampier strait which at times the current is screaming making photography impossible. Use reef hook and watch the scenery. At other pinnacles current mild so very good site for fish to photograph. Visibility is at 60 feet. Did a dive in mangrove which had very good visibility. Arborek jetty was a very good site as we had mantas flying out of water and i had a cuttlefish posing for half of one dive and found him again for the second dive. Schools of fish around the jetty. Manta Sandy dive for mantas did not disappoint as we had many mantas cruising getting cleaned. Other mantas did not look like they were being cleaned as they were not near the cleaning station. They were just there cruising behind the cleaning station. Kri island dive is a protected area from fishing. It is obvious the great work they are doing. Four turtles on one dive and six sharks as well as schooling fish. The turtles i got many pics of as they were easy to approach. Kri was the last dive i did so the last ten minutes of the dive i just watched the reef go by taking it all in. Great reef. Will defiantly have to do raja ampat again as on many sites i found turtle, cuttlefish, octopus or other subjects to photograph and missed alot of what was in the dive briefing but when you have a great subject you shoot it. Some groups covered a whole lot more territory as the inflatables sometimes were a hundreds of yards away when surfacing. The liveaboard i was on was the mermaid 1. I have now done six trips on mermaid liveaboards and they do no disappoint. Will defiantly do many more trips with them. Both mermaid 1 and 2 are well set up. Mermaid 1 i prefer as the trips are longer so a little more relaxed pace. Both boats are comfortable and very well organized. The mermaid 1 does have a little more space in the dining room area and dive deck but i have done both and enjoyed them. Crews on board do not babysit underwater. They find subjects sometimes so small as i have to photograph it to figure out what they found. Professional and safe crews. Dive briefings very good and gives a few clues of what is found on each site. Food on board is very good. Breakfast is made to order. Lunch and dinner have soup, a fish, chicken. pork and a beef dish as well as salad and veggie dish. Alot of choices to eat. Thank You Mermaid Liveaboards. My website has four parts of this biodiversity trip in separate sections. Alor and gunang api, banda islands, misool, and waigeo. On the mermaid liveaboard site here is the trip video. Biodiversity Cruise Mermaid Nov 26 - Dec 10, 2012.mov - YouTube
Sorong airport needs a bit of cleaning up but it is organized. Sriwijaya Air flight was on a boeing 737 500 series. Nice airline but seats are tight and meal served still not sure what is was. Mystery meat. The airline has a 15kg weight limit for checked. Just pay for any extra weight in baggage. They did not even look at carry on luggage even though they have a 7kg limit and my camera bag is 11kg. Office to pay overweight charge is well organized. From makassar some of the group flew lion air and i flew garuda air. Garuda has 20kg limit so i did not have any weight charge. Lion air was 15kg and it seemed a bit disorganized as to where to pay the charges. For the departure tax in makassar it is paid at ticket counter. Small bills needed as not much change.
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