I am well and truly settled into the swing of diving life here at Wakatobi Dive Resort, although there have been quite a few changes since I was here last. There are many more guides than my previous stays, as the resort now offers private guiding. This allows divers to have their very own guide should they choose this service. This is also good for me, as it’s lots more pairs of eyes searching for pygmies! My active schedule is being fuelled by the amazing cuisine, which includes a combination of Indonesian, Asian and Western styles.
Week one of my time spent at Wakatobi Dive Resort in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, originally written for FiNS Online:
I have recently returned from two trips aboard the Paradise Dancer in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia where I have been in search of the recently described and extremely elusive Satomi’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus satomiae). The Paradise Dancer, or Dewi Nusantara as it is also known, is a member of the Peter Hughes fleet and the crown jewel of Indonesian liveaboard diving.
Every week during my two months at Wakatobi Dive Resort between August and October 2009 I wrote a blog for FiNS online. I was at the resort conducting fieldwork for my PhD on the biology of pygmy seahorses. The blog explains what I was up to each week so just follow the links below to each week's write-up:
Week 1 - The weeks ahead
The new issue of Sport Diving magazine (Issue 139) has been released throughout Asia and Australia. I have an article entitled 'Wakatobi Setting the Standard' about some of the work I did there studying the area's pygmy seahorses as well as talking about the amazing diving and resort there.
FiNS issue 7.2 was a busy one for me, with a 'Really Richard?' about how to distinguish between mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus) and picturesque dragonets (Synchiropus picturatus), an article on diving in Lembeh Strait and the Top 10 critters to see there, as well as the front cover shot of a yawning Rhinopias!
I have recently returned from a trip aboard the Mike Ball boat Spoil Sport to the Coral Sea. The Coral Sea is located off the east coast of Australia off shore from the Great Barrier Reef's ribbon reefs. The itinerary included the famous Cod Hole, where huge and very friendly potato cod were very obliging photographic subjects. We then headed to Osprey Reef where mega fauna were numerous. It was nice to see sharks, large fish and even a manta. These have unfortunately become very rare in Asia due to overfishing.
Whilst on a night dive aboard the Paradise Dancer in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia recently I came across this unusual velvetfish. I consulted Dr Gerry Allen, the world renowned fish expert, who confirmed that he had never seen a fish like it and that it may well be a new species. He is going to keep his eyes peeled for a specimen to do a formal description, as am I.