It was really hot and humid as I unpacked my suitcases. I began sweating even more as I realized a small bag containing a camera body and lens were missing. I mentally flashed back to grabbing my suitcase in the Port Moresby airport, noticing one of the compartments was unzipped – the compartment with that small camera bag. I had been in too much of a rush to catch my connecting domestic flight to properly check if everything was intact. I searched everything again coming to the realization that I would probably never see that equipment again. The next day I would board a boat and be out of communication for the following 10 days. Welcome to Papua New Guinea.
I guess it’s not the end of the world; after all I still had my main camera, housing, 3 lenses and strobes. I could still shoot both wide angle and macro (had my 105mm, missing my 60mm). I decided to not dwell on things and enjoy the rest of my adventure. I was here to dive and shoot and that is all.
The M/V FeBrina liveaboard dive boat docked at Walindi Plantation Resort.
The liveaboard started out promising in Kimbe Bay with healthy coral pinnacles. Shrimpfish swam vertically over sea whips, trumpet fish hid behind massive seafans, pygmy seahorses clung to and looked cute camouflaged on the very same seafans. I was in a diver’s paradise!
Trumpetfish in front of Giant Sea Fans
Beautiful Coral Reef in Kimbe Bay
Pygmy Seahorse in Kime Bay
Then we went to the Witu Islands and I got my first taste of muck diving. I found it incredibly challenging and fun! We got to see ornate ghost pipefish, snake eels, octopus, crabs, anemonefish, mantis shrimp, crocodile fish, gobys, ribbon eels, and the list could keep going!
Snake Eel with Cleaner Shrimp
Shy Octopus in the Witu Islands
Ribbon Eel at Night
Ornate Ghost Pipefish in Crinoid Host
Next stop was fathers reef. Dominated by large schools of barracuda and jacks, punctuated by grey reef, whitetip reef and silvertip sharks. These dives got the blood flowing! Then the weather turned and we had to head back into Kimbe Bay, which at first was disappointing, but every dive that followed was simply stunning. There were no bad dives. The area is simply incredible with macro and wide angle opportunities like crazy!
Whitetip Reef Shark
Goby on Seafan
I was out on the M/V Febrina operating out of Walindi Resort. It was interesting to hear the captain/owner Alan Raabe talk about why the reefs and wildlife are in such good shape there. The locals fish the reefs, but once in the mid 90’s a foreign commercial fishing vessel came into their waters. Alan reported the intruder to the authorities who swiftly arrested the crew. The boat was stripped of anything of value (including many metallic walls) losing the fisherman a great deal. Since then no one has entered their waters to commercially fish (that we know of). Although this has certainly helped the area’s reefs remain resilient they are still under threat.
Enough fish to almost block out the sun
Climate Change, commercial crop runoff, deforestation, and sedimentation have significant impacts on the reefs and other ocean ecosystems. As we are consistently becoming more aware, everything is connected. For more information about these issues visit The Nature Conservancy website who have been working to protect the area and it’s people.
Papua New Guinea mother and child in dugout canoe paddling over a pristine coral reef.
My 10 day liveaboard came to an end all too quickly. I left with new friends and thousands of images to sort through. When I got back to the Port Moresby airport I asked the man behind the tiny kiosk in baggage claim if they have a “lost and found”. I described my little black bag containing a camera and lens. To my astonishment he said “Yes, I found it. I was working that day. Let me go get it for you”. It was that simple! I had thought it was blatantly stolen, but it was returned to me safe and sound. Many people were scared for me when I told them where I was going. As so often happens we fear what we do not know. I’m sure PNG has areas that are not safe (as almost any country would), but I would feel great about going back again. In fact, I’m going to make it a priority.
Tiny Shrimp on Soft Coral
Shark tooth found on the reef
Reef and Rainforest
Upside down Reef
Curious Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Shrimpfish over gorgonian coral
False Clown Anemonefish
Wreck of the Zero – Japanese WWII plane