I spent 10 days in Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia over Christmas 2010. It is one of the best places in the world for Muck Diving, which doesn't sound too glamorous but isn't quite as it sounds. Basically this type of diving is spent looking around ostensibly barren areas of sand and silt for cryptic creatures. Every dive is like a treasure hunt.
I have recently returned from a couple of weeks in Florida where I was visiting friends and managed to fit a few dives in too! I didn't really know what to expect from diving in one of the most populous states in the US but I was more than pleasantly surprised. I only managed four dives and a morning of snorkelling but saw my first ever Great Hammerhead, heaps of manatees and amazing muck critters (Click this Link to Images).
Having had a slow start to our humpback whale watching experiences here in Tonga, today was an absolutely mind blowing and unforgettable day! It is only the beginning of the season here in Vava’u, a northern island group in the Kingdom of Tonga, but the whales are starting to show up in increasing numbers. The season generally runs from mid-July to October, but apparently they are a little late in arriving this year.
Fish Rock is one of those dive sites that you can count on. I have been three times now, and each trip has been well worth the seven-hour drive from Brisbane. South West Rocks is located half-way between Brisbane and Sydney on Australia’s east coast and is also a great place to visit topside, forgetting the world-class dive site on its doorstep.
After 8 weeks, 143 dives and 52 hours of behavioural observations I am leaving Wakatobi. During this time I have been lucky enough to witness pygmies conducting daily courtship rituals, mating, giving birth and even fighting. I have collected some great data and will have plenty to work on when I get home.
My penultimate week here at Wakatobi Dive Resort has already passed and less than seven days remain. If you have missed my previous blogs I have spent the last seven weeks observing and documenting the social and reproductive behaviour of pygmy seahorses for my PhD studies. There have been highs and lows during this time when I have been lucky enough to witness the birth of a new generation of Denise’s pygmies (Hippocampus denise) and unfortunately the loss of some adults, which left their exceedingly melancholy mates (obviously without anthropomorphising too much!).
Time has again flown, and yet another eventful week here at Wakatobi Dive Resort has passed. Unfortunately the news from the group of pygmy seahorses whose behaviour I have been observing is not good.
Another busy week has passed here at Wakatobi Dive Resort and there have been some highs and lows in the pygmy group on the House Reef.
It was cigars all around early in the week when I was lucky enough to be present at the birth of a new generation of Denise’s pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus denise). I had predicted the time and date of the birth based on the expected gestation period of the species (which I figured out a couple of years ago) and the timing of social activities in seahorses.
Another week has flown by here at Wakatobi Dive Resort. I have now spent 25 hours observing my little group of Denise’s pygmy seahorses (Hippocampus denise) on the resort’s House Reef. You may remember in my last blog I mentioned a female that was giving me some heart-stopping moments when she made epic journeys from one part of her gorgonian coral host to another (for a pygmy seahorse 20cm is epic!).
It is great to be back diving the reefs of Wakatobi Dive Resort. I have spent a couple of months here every year for the past few years, and you really get a sense of how the reefs change when you have time away from them. This year ornate and Halimeda ghost pipefish are much more common than I have seen previously. Conversely, there seem to be fewer Pontoh’s pygmy seahorses and robust ghost pipefish. I am usually here around the same time of year, so there must be some other factors affecting their population dynamics.