Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Airborei, Manta Ridge, Raja Ampat April 2011

We dived at Manta Ridge and the Mantas came on cue. Beautiful majestic creatures. Calm your heart, stay still, and they will come to you, wondering in amazement at us just as we are of them. Do not chase after them, it will only cause them to flee. Follow them only at a respectful distance but the second you speed up, they will sense the chase and move away. I was a little disappointed with some of the dive team who chased after the mantas and practically jammed their big cameras with their massive strobes into their eyes; being experienced divers they should have known better. I choose the melancholic soundtrack (a Mongolian song, Hodoo by Urna) to reflect the sheer grace and magnificence of the Manta - and the sad realization that their days are numbered as the number of fishing trawlers, drift nets increase. Will I see Manta Rays 40 years from now? Or will they be a distant memory like the lyrics of a long forgotten song?

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Call of the Kings: Raja Ampat

I went scuba diving in Raja Ampat for a week on the dive boat Sea Safari 8, a fine ship with a good crew. Raja Ampat is located on the western end of Papua New Guinea, known as West Papua, Indonesia. I particularly loved the dives at Misool Islands, Boo, and at Airborei, Manta Ridge where we saw the majestic winged creatures. The area was filled with such amazing natural pristine beauty. There were underwater caverns the size of cathedrals. Sunlight streamed down from some gaps in the limestone bathing the caverns in a blue surreal glow. We even saw dolphins but they were shy and kept their distance.

I love diving here - it was so beautiful and pristine. I'd say its better than the dive at Komodo. The visibility however was not so good, perhaps caused by the storms in the area. I think June/July might be clearer.

Our Indonesian / West Papua dive guides were fantastic and brought us to all the right locations.

I love the sea here. It gave me great pleasure and joy to sit on the bridge or the crow's nest and gaze at the magnificent salt water wilderness. I could imagine myself an ancient mariner sailing across unchartered waters and seeing dolphins, whales, and all manner of amazing sea creatures frolicking in the waters. Now I see mainly the massive clouds sitting past the horizon - making it seem that our sea was a thin slender table - measurable. Sail past that point and you'll fall over the side.

I was using a brand new camera for this trip, the Olympus XZ-1.

Photo Album 2011-05-02