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Don Silcock

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Everything posted by Don Silcock

  1. Hi Edmond, thanks for the comments - greatly appreciated! As I understand it, November is the best time for both mantas and whale sharks. Don
  2. My article on Tofo in Mozambique has been published in the latest issue of X-Ray..... Very pleased with the way they laid it out! Don
  3. Yep, Brisbane International really sucks in my opinion - they seem to be just looking for ways to gouge that last dollar out of their captive "customers" while they can.... Melbourne International were doing the same thing the last few times I passed through and yet Sydney, which I use a lot with my day-job, have not weighing carry-on. Don
  4. I did a two week trip to Tofo in Mozambique late last year and have finally completed updating my site with a comprehensive series of seven pages on the location. There are two things that are really special about the area in my opinion - firstly there are the manta rays and whale sharks, which is what most people go there for. But secondly, and what made it really special for me, was the presence in Tofo of Andrea Marshall and Simon Pierce who are leading the research into the mega fauna through their foundation based there. Their regular talks at Casa Barry at the end of Tofo beach are just fantastic and really made my trip one to remember. The location pages on my site cover the area in general and why the mega fauna are there, the mantas, the whale sharks, the mega fauna foundation, Tofo dive sites overview, Tofo diving logistics and general Tofo logistics like how to get there etc. Here is the link to the first page and just follow the links at the bottom of each page. Feedback welcome - learning as I go building my site... Don
  5. I have never had any real issues traveling internally within PNG with dive gear before, but it looks like Air Nuigini are doing the same as virtually every other airline these days and enforcing baggage allowances to raise their bottom lines... I did a 3 week business trip to India recently and got whacked for excess baggage on every internal flight! The good news is that Air Nuigini has the 15kg allowance for divers and honors it - so long as you ask. I ended up paying about 30 Kina (roughly $10) on the Port Moresby to Hoskins domestic flight after they had granted me the extra. We can thank the PNG Dive Association for this lobbying of Air Nuigini, and the powers that be, for this. Don
  6. Just got back from a 2.5 week trip to Kimbe Bay in PNG and thought I would share some new travel tips I learned this time round - my 12th trip there. - The ugly bit was on the first morning when I checked in at Qantas in Sydney. I realized that I had made a big mistake by booking the flight to Port Moresby on Frequent Flyer points because even though the flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby was on Air Nuigini (Qantas code share partner) nobody at the domestic terminal in Sydney knew anything about the 15kg divers allowance. $430 of excess baggage later I was on my way... - Could not get any sense out of Air Nuigini at Brisbane about the excess baggage apart from the excellent advice offered of "claim it back on your tax...." to which I pointed out that I needed to earn something first! - Lesson learned was to get seperate flights and check in bags with Air Nuigini at Brisbane to be sure of getting the diving allowance. - The hand luggage police at Brisbane International appear to have stopped wieghing carry-on luggage... - I got one of the APEC travel cards about 12 months ago but this was the first time I used it going into PNG - it worked a treat and I was in the domestic terminal within 25 minutes of landing! There are three queues at Port Moresby immigration; APEC/Diplomatic, PNG national/resident and "visa on arrival" so I went to the APEC one which was completely empty and nobody in the booth. I showed the APEC card to the person in national/resident booth and she summoned me over, stamped my passport and I was through. My bags came within a few minutes and I was out of there! - They are enforcing check-in baggage wieght limits on the domestic flights but will give you the 15kg divers allowance if you ask for it... There are also several prominent signs about one bay only @ 5kg for carry-on, plus a set of scales as you go through but nobody seemed to be enforcing the limit. - Flight left on time and I was at Walindi by 18.00 just 11 hours after leaving Sydney - brilliant when it all works... Don
  7. I am really very pleased to be working with Equator Diving and conducting this first photo workshop at Maluku Divers new resort - Ambon has some great diving in general but for critters the Twilight Zone, and some of the other nearby sites in the Laha area, are the best I have personally seen outside of the Lembeh Strait. I first dived the Twilight Zone back in 2006 and was amazed at the sheer diversity of the site and it's unique "ambience" as the place seems to change it's personality throughout the day, going from sombre & moody in the morning to bright & breezy around noon when the bright Indonesian sun sends shafts of light down through the gaps between the fishing boats and the huge shoal of silversides tend to go ballistic! In the late afternoon the mood goes to "pensive hunger" when the creatures that have been asleep & hiding all day start to emerge for the night's hunting activities. Around the general Laha area are the much sought after Rhinopias: Then there is the Ambon Shipwreck for some alternative wide-angle photography and the new sites that Maluku Divers have found in the last couple of years, so it should be a great week. If you are interested in the photo workshop and have any questions, please either pm me or send me an email at don.silcock@gmail.com Don
  8. Thanks very much for all the positive feedback feedback - greatly appreciated. I just heard from a mate of mine who dived Edithburg two weeks ago that there were several leafy's there, which is really good news as the last I had heard prior to that was that somebody had illegally "harvested" numerous specimens for the aquarium trade.... Don
  9. While I was in Bali in January I dived the Japanese wreck at Banyuning near Amed several times. The wreck is the "other" shipwreck in north-east Bali and although it plays second fiddle to the Liberty wreck at nearby Tulamben, is an excellent dive and well worth making the fairly short journey to Amed if you are staying in the Tulamben area. The wreck is located in shallow water, just off the beach in Lipah Bay near the small village of Banyuning, which places it close to Gili Selang where the forces of the Indonesian Throughflow are at their most powerful. Very little is known about the wreck and how it ended up sank at Banyuning – or even if it really was a Japanese ship. In fact the only indication I could find about its heritage is that the nearly intact Asian style toilet found on the wreck made somebody in the past think that the ship must have been from Japan… I have updated my site with a new location page for the Japanese Wreck. The page includes a description of the wreck itself and the nearby reef and there are image galleries of both, plus how to get there and when to dive the wreck. Don
  10. Hi Alex, I was using the Nikon 16-35 behind a Subal FE2 dome on a D700. The images are very sharp in the center but less so in the corners... I have recently bought a Zen superdome to address this (and try the 14-24...) but not got it wet yet! Don
  11. I managed to get a few days diving in and around Edithburg in South Australia late last year and after a day of looking finally found a pair of what have to be Australia's most exquisite underwater creatures – the very special and quite unique Leafy Sea Dragon (Glauerts Seadragon). Edithburg is on the south-east tip of South Australia's Yorke Peninsular and is one of the best places to see and photograph "Leafy's" as just off from the town's main jetty and in less than 10m of water is an area of thick sea grass which provides the perfect habitat. The sea grass allows the Leafy's to blend in almost completely, plus a rich source of the small crustaceans that together with plankton forms their main food source. Only found only in the waters of Southern Australia and the south-west of Western Australia, Leafy Sea Dragons are very territorial, although they will move away from their habitat for up to several hundred metres from its habitat, they use their very strong sense of direction to return. The underwater conditions were not too good at the time because of recent storms, which meant the visibility was not the best, but it was a great encounter when we found a male and female pair, with the male carrying a large number of eggs. You can see the Leafy Sea Dragon image gallery from the trip on this LINK and I will be adding some detailed location pages on the Edithburg area soon as I get chance…
  12. Tim, I went through my images from January and added a gallery showing what I have of the inside of the wreck and the condition of the hull etc. Here is the LINK to the updated page - scroll down the page and you will see it... Don
  13. Hi Tim, yes I have - give me a few days and I will put something together, but basically while its clear there is an impact on the wreck from the very high traffic it is not as bad as you might think. Don
  14. I managed to get a few dives on the Liberty Wreck at Tulamben in Bali when I was there in January and was surprised at just how healthy the marine life on the wreck is despite the very large number of divers who visit it. There is a new resort right by the wreck and two more at Kubo just west of Tulamben, plus the seemingly endless number of divers who come up daily from the south to dive the Liberty. The resorts at Kubo appear to cater for mainly Europeans and seem to be based on using a large bus to get the divers to Tulamben, but were empty when I was there in the middle of January, but had apparently been full over Xmas and New Year. Quite what this means overall for the wreck going forward seems to be anybody's guess, but it is hard to see it as sustainable... I have updated the pages on my site for both the Liberty Wreck and Tulamben Bay as a result of the trip. I also had a very close encounter with George, the resident large barracuda who is often seen in and around the stern of the wreck - he was out in the open sandy area just east of the stern when I dropped in and allowed me to get close enough to nearly fill the frame of my fish-eye lens. He's a pretty cool dude!
  15. Hi Richard, thanks for the feedback. Yes, Halmahera is quite a location if a bit remote... I am looking forward to hearing what Markus (Rothi) has to say about Weda Bay after his trip there. Don
  16. Hi Markus, sorry for the slow reply - traveling in India right now.... I am sure it will be fun! Where are you going to in Halmahera? Don
  17. I recently had an article published in X-Ray on the Halmahera region of Indonesia - just about as far north as you can go and one of the the least explored areas of the vast archipelago that is Indonesia. The trip was on the SMY Ondina and organised through Deb Fugitt & City Seahorse and was quite an experience. You can download the article from my site on this LINK. There is also an image gallery from the trip on this LINK. Don
  18. Steve, thanks and yes it was quite a thrill diving it - particularly given that it was towards the end of a big day out... We had left Tufi at 07.30 that morning to make the 2.5 hour trip across Collingwood Bay to dive the much more famous Black Jack wreck at Boga Boga, which is a 50m dive in what turned out to be quite strong currents that day. Then is was a detour back to "Pistoff" and a change of pace from 30m+ visibility to about 2m.... Don
  19. I was fortunate to be able to spend several weeks based at the Tufi Dive Resort in the Oro Province of PNG as part of a project I was doing with them. It really is a tremendous location and one of my favorite places in PNG. The main wharf has some interesting critters, plus there are the remains of two PT Boats down at 50m. The "fiords" are actually Rias but saying you have been diving in a tropical fiord sounds a lot cooler... There is some really great diving on the offshore reefs and the local villages offer some terrific cultural experiences - all in all, a great location. I have finally got round to updating my site with a comprehensive set of pages on all there is to see & experience in the area and if you follow this LINK it will take you to the starting page and an overview of Oro Province. Then just follow the links at the bottom of each page to see the rest of the pages. Don
  20. Hi, you mean this one below - it's a leopard shark I believe.... Don
  21. Hi Andy, thanks very much indeed for this info - just what I needed! Don
  22. I will be in East Kalimantan in Indonesia on business in May and wanted to take advantage of the trip to go to Derawan. I will be in Balikpapan then going up to a place called Bontang for a couple of days and I was intending to try and do about a weeks at Derawan as the main way to get to Berau is from Balikpapan. I emailed the resort and also filled in the online form on their site, but no response so after waiting for a few days I called them today - three times, but the person at the other end does not seem to speak English and puts the phone down... Has anybody been there and can offer any advice? Don Derawan Dive Resort Balikpapan Branch Office Kompleks Balikpapan Permai Blok G-1 No. 34 Balikpapan - East Kalimantan - INDONESIA Tel. +62-542-7072615/ 7072617 Fax +62-542-420293 E-Mail :marketing@divederawan.com tours@divederawan.com
  23. Jack, Todd & EJB - thanks for the comments, great;y appreciated! Don
  24. Thought I would close the loop back on this as I have now updated the B25 Mitchell bomber "Pistoff" page on my site based on everything I learned about this aircraft wreck. Don
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