Lemus and Ral Islands

What, I hear you say, Two posts in as many days? What can I say, I'm on a roll, okay?! Plus, the stuff we saw at Lemus and Ral Islands today is too good not to share. Conny unfortunately did not follow up with her incredible find of the mimic octopus from yesterday, but not for lack of trying. Peni had so wanted to see it, I don't think he saw much else, so focused was he on the octopus. Alas, no cigar. Still, lots of other stuff to see...

Robust Gostpipefish, this one is the female. Her partner was also there,
but they were obviously having domestics, as one was on that side
of the coral, the other around the corner. 

Baramundi Cold, posing nicely for me!

Chomodorididae Glossodoris atromarginata

Another decorator crab. I find these little buggers so
very ingenious! I mean, how clever to stick bits of coral,
rubble, grass etc. on your head and body so you blend in?

Another one for my "weird animals I've never seen before"
category. This one might also be a jelly fish, but again,
if anyone out there has any ideas, please let me know! 

Where on earth did that month just go?

I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted any stories, photos or just silly comments. There has been plenty to report, a few photos to share, so lets get to it. 
A dive at my favourite dive site, The Bottleshop, produced some great shots. 


How cute is this little Blennie? They
always look like they are smiling! 

While our friends Imi and Christopher Bartlett were here, Dietmar and I took the opportunity to join them on the dive boat one Sunday. Danny's Bommie was as great as always, as was Kavin II, even without Pygmy Seahorse. Christopher had given me some camera hints, which I was keen to try out. The first photos at Danny's Bommie were still "practice photos", but at Kaving, I was slowly getting the hang of it, .... at least I think so.... feel free to disagree. 

Orangutan Crab - what a hairy little bugger!

For want of knowing the proper name, I've called this
species "Green Crab".

Dietmar Smartypants just tells me this crab lives in the Halimeda algae, so it could be a Halimeda Crab. Of course, after looking this up on the internet, Mr Smartypants is right.

Speaking of not knowing what is what down there, have a look at this weirdo below. Christopher and I took stacks of photos, but mine didn't turn out very well, and as far as I know, neither did Christopher's. It's really hard to photograph something like this in blue water, especially when there is other stuff floating around. That doesn't make identifying this creature any easier, and no, it's not a fishing hook/floater! 

Jellyfish? It was approx. 20cm long from tail till the bent
where it then comes down to the two eyes, or whatever
they were. 

If anyone out there has any ideas as to what this could be, I'd love to hear from you! 

The divers just came back from Ral Island, a dive Dietmar and I were meant to join. Unfortunately, duty called, but according to the divers, they saw a mimic octopus! Yeah, right, and pigs might fly one day. You are just saying that to make us jealous, it's probably another one of those diver stories. No, no, we have pictures!! Great, thanks for telling me, I wanted to come along, remember?!?!?!?! 
Well, I've just informed them that we are going back to Ral tomorrow, whether they like it or not. I want to see Mimi, the mimic octopus! Luckily, the guests are also keen to see her again, so Ral it is tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get some decent photos, and hopefully, Mimi is still there..... 

House Reef 24 October

Sunday morning, and neither Dietmar nor I felt like working. No surprises there, so we geared up and hopped in for a quick dive on our house reef. Well, I did a quick dive of 33 minutes, Dietmar finally emerged from the water after 90 minutes! 
The visibility was pretty awful, as the tide was going out and flushing all the dirt from the mangroves along. Not many of our photos turned out, there was just too much stuff in the water. For those of you that have dived here, the little bommie on the corner, the one with the gorgonian fan, is the temporary home of a moray eel. Not a big one, and unfortunately, the photos I took are just too poor to publish. 

Slightly better is this shot of a purple anemone

Dietmar found this little beauty, have a look at how small he is. That's Dietmar's pointy finger in the second picture. 

Juvenile Flounder

It's only slightly larger than the first link
of Dietmar's pointy finger

Mahonia Na Dari

It's been a while since I last wrote, so lots to tell this time. I've been away for 10 days, travelling in PNG and dear me, the internet in most places is terrible. I didn't know just how spoiled we are with our satellite broadband internet and that I can even answer e-mails from our bedroom with our WiFi. Hence, whilst away, I only answered the most important e-mails and at one stage, I even had to engage Dietmar as my secretary, telling people I would get back to them as soon as I had figured out why I could receive e-mails without problems, but couldn't send anything. Seeing Dietmar, Missy, Chivas, Shrek, Nozaki and the staff wasn't the only reason I am happy to be home again!

My first stop on the trip was Walindi, or rather Mahonia Na Dari, which means "Guardian of the Sea" in Tokples (talk place = the language spoken in that particular area of Kimbe Bay in New Britain, the Talasea Peninsula).
Mahonia believes that one of the best hopes for preserving Papua New Guinea's marine biodiversity is to build a grassroots constituency for conservation.  Mahonia supports community-based conservation and resource management in Kimbe Bay and the Islands Region of PNG.  Their highly successful marine education program has already proven to be a powerful tool in building this support by increasing environmental awareness and inspiring local action to protect coral reefs. One of the main components of their marine education and awareness program is the Marine Environment Education Program, MEEP in short.

The reason for my visit at Mahonia was to talk to Lorna Romaso, who is the Education Officer at Mahonia. I've known Lorna for a while and she even came to visit us once at Lissenung with a group of students from one of the local high schools. Unfortunately, funding for the New Ireland schools dried up, so not much has been done since 2006. At Mahonia, however, Lorna is still in full swing, educating teachers, youth ambassadors and school students alike. She has a wealth of information that I wanted to tap into as we would like to learn from Mahonia Na Dari and start to run small versions of their MEEP here in New Ireland. I knew what I would like to achieve, but I didn't know how to get started and Lorna has provided some great ideas. Thank you Lorna!!

Thanks also goes to Cecilie and Max Benjamin from Walindi Plantation Resort, who accommodated me free of charge for the 4 nights I was there. Cecilie is the Chair of Mahonia and took some time out of her busy day to accompany me on my visit to the education centre and to answer lots of my questions.

The next stop was in Port Moresby to attend the National Tourism Conference. I stayed with our good friends Sandy and Ian Rosen, and Sandy and I got lots of girlie time in. We went shopping, we lunched, we visited the beauty shop and then we shopped some more.
The conference was very informative and a great opportunity for networking. I met some very interesting people and caught up with some of my friends.


25 September, PADI Project Aware Clean-up Day

Yesterday was PADI Project Aware Clean-up Day, and since we tend to keep our island tidy at all times, we helped the Enuk Island Community with the cleaning of their island. Current guests Nicola, Megan, Elly & Uschi all volunteerd to dive and clean the channel between the two islands that make up Enuk Island.

Many thanks go to Steve Wannell from Scubapro-Uwatec for donating mask & snorkel sets, to the guys & girls from Dive Adventures and to Hutch from Surf Travel Company for donating other prizes such as pencils, books, water colours, balls and stacks more.

Here are some photos from a fun morning:

The kids are off to collect the rubbish

Rubbish from the other side of the island arrives
by dugout canoe
Time for sorting and separating!

The dive team arrives back at the collection point
from cleaning the channel

While we wait for the kids to return with the rubbish,
Dietmar takes a picture of this great school project:
Re-forestation of mangrove trees just outside the school!
The prize table, with the kids waiting for the weighing
to begin to find out who has collected the most

First of the mark for measuring her collection is little
Jenny (in front, pulling her blue/white striped top UP)

One, two, three, many!  While Dietmar and the head
teacher work out who has won in which category......
... the kids line up for bisquits......
.... and ice-cold cordial

The piles are getting smaller and smaller each year!
It seems that our efforts are paying off, which is
fantastic news!

Group photo after a fun-filled and successful morning


15 September, Lissenung Beach

We have had three seahorses living just off the beach for some time now. At first, there were only two little ones and we first spotted them approx. the same time as we saw the juvenile Brown Sweetlip. These two have grown a fair bit, and now there is a third one, this one much smaller than the other two. Our reef is a real fish nursery, or kindergarden. So many juveniles, it's awesome! It goes to show that our looking after the reef is really paying of. It also shows that more protected reef areas are needed.

Common Seahorse Hippocampus taeniopterus ??

Albatross Passage 7 September 2010

Cat & Dan, the dive managers at Walindi Plantation Resort, are visiting us at the moment, and Dietmar went out diving with them yesterday. We have had a fair bit of rain, which is very unusual at this time of the year, so the visibility was not very good. This doesn't bother Dietmar, who loves to stick his head into the reef anyway, looking for small stuff, and yesterday, he was not disappointed.

Ovulide Shell on soft coral

This little Ovulide shell looks so much like its host coral that it is hard to spot. Dietmar has e-mailed his friend Dr. Felix Lorenz, top expert in Ovulides and Cowries, and according to him, it's a Diminovula stigma (Cate, 1978).

Leafy Scorpionfish

This Leafy  Scorpionfish lives at Danny's Bommie, next  to Albatross Passage. We used to have one of those weird-looking fish there, but hadn't seen it for a while. Peni spotted this one about 2 weeks ago, and was very chuffed with himself.

One can be forgiven for not realising that this is an animal. The decorator crabs are really very clever. They blend into their surroundings by sticking stuff on their shells that looks just like the habitat they live in. I once saw a little piece of seagrass walking at Ral Island, which was a decorator crab trying to pretend to be part of a patch of greenery. Ingenious!!

Decorator Crab - looks like something from another planet?

Nusaum Island, 22 August

A Sunday morning dive at Nusaum Island brought up this shell that belongs to the Strombus family. The visibility was terrible, probably only 10 - 12m, so there wasn't much point in looking for big stuff. Instead, I had my head firmly down in coral and rubble, to the point where, at one stage, I thought "If someone wants to eat me, I won't know about it until I am inside the beast's tummy!" No nasty big things around here, though, other than maybe hubby, and he won't dare to scare the pants off me. Retaliation from my side would just be too big. :)

Back to the dive, though, where I found this little fella. According to Dietmar, who is an absolute shell nut, Strombus shells are very common. This particular species is not overly common, but common enough not to get too excited about it. Cute little animal inside, though, I just loved the way his little eyes pocked out of his home all cross-eyed.  

Strombidae Lambis millepeda

A little cross eyed....

Brilliant photos

I've been in Cairns for 10 days, where I have loaded a container with donated goods for our hospital in Kavieng. That's a different story, but it means I haven't been in the water for a while. However, instead of seeing my rather average pictures, I've got a real treat for everyone: Check out the photos of our friend and guest Matthias Wildermuth from his trip to Lissenung in June this year. If those pics don't whet your appetite, I don't know what will.

.... a little pre-view of Matthias' photos....

Offer of Sponsorship to marine biology researchers and students

I have some awesome news to share with you today!! Lissenung Island Resort would like to offer sponsorship to researchers and students in the field of marine biology. We can accommodate 2 researchers/students at a time in twin room accommodation.

If you are interested, have a look at http://www.lissenung.com/sponsorship.htm for all the details. Should you have any questions, just dorp me a line on info@lissenung or Skype me on lissenungdiving.  

House Reef 28 July 2010

A few weeks ago, Dietmar and I walked around the island and found a tiny fish floating close to the shore. At first, we both thought it was a leaf, but on closer inspection, we could see that it was a wee brown fish.
Juvenile Plectorhinchus gibbosus - Brown Sweetlip
.... or little brown fish :)

Dietmar and I thought it was some sort of a cod, with that long shaped forehead, Nozaki reckoned it was something else, although she couldn't tell us what, so I asked Ali again. She works and is friends with Gerry Allen, he of the many fish ID books, and ended up asking him. I expect that Gerry didn't even need to consult one of his books, he probably said without hesitation "oh, that, of course that's a juvenile Plectorhinchus gibbosus!!"

Not a great shot, but it gives you an idea of the size
of the fish next to my size 8 foot.

Clownfish 24 July 2010

Bad news! I just went diving with Dietmar on our house reef and when we came to the anemone that has been the clownfish's home for who knows how long, there were only 3 residents there. "My" fish has gone! Dietmar and I searched the surrounding area, just in case the fish had found a new home, although why he would do that, I'm not sure. But it's called Hope, I guess. Well, no such luck, we couldn't find him and I am afraid that means that he has gone to Fishie Heaven.

Lexa had asked a friend of hers about the eye sight in the fish's left eye and it was confirmed that most likely, he was blind in that eye. This would certainly make it a lot harder for him to be on the look-out for predators. I had also thought that he looked a bit skinnier lately, but as he still appeared to eat well, I wasn't too worried about that. But coming to think of it, he had some funny stuff hanging out of his mouth when I last saw him on 19 July. It looked almost like snot, and it didn't disappear the whole time I was hanging around, taking pictures, which would have been at least 6 - 7 minutes. It didn't look like he even noticed this, he certainly didn't try to get rid of it. Maybe that was the first sign that something wasn't right?

Look at the arrows, you can faintly see the slimey
stuff hanging from his mouth.

Byebye Fishie!
Last picture taken on 19 July 2010

Albatross Passage, 6 July

Almost two weeks ago now, Dietmar and I joined our friend Dave from Bouganville and his dad John on an afternoon dive at Albatross Passage. The conditions had been great for weeks, so we couldn't wait to get in. We were not disappointed: Stacks of sharks, going back and forth, although the mating season appeared to have finished as there was no chasing happening anymore. But look at these pics, the poor females, they really cop it when the boys get all excited. 

Grey Reef Shark at Albatross

This Grey Reef Shark had lots of bite marks where the
males hang on when they mate.

A big school of Barracudas swam back and forth in
front of the wall.

Clownfish 15 July 2010

The wound is looking great, it doesn't appear as if the cleaner shrimp have done any damage by cleaning to vigorously.
However, the eye looks like a little black stump, almost like Dutch liquorice. The eye is almost covered with skin and looks very dull. I wonder if the fish is now blind in this eye? He appears happy, though, and is still Alpha-fish in the anemone, chasing the smaller clownfish away if they get in the way.

Clownfish 4 July 2010

Once again a big gap between dives, but the wound is looking good. The eye is still pushed out and down, I am giving up hope that it will ever pop back into its intended spot. I think I might have to get in again soon, just to make sure that the cleaner shrimps are not tearing that wound open again.

Clownfish 25 June

We have been very busy with guests, broken outboard engines, extra curriculum trips, so I haven't had time to get in the water until today. The wound is looking good, fishie is happy, swimming around and eating. 

The lump is still big and still pushing the eye out and down a lot, but it looks like new skin is growing around the edges. Lets hope the cleaner shrimps don't do too much damage when they are cleaning!

On the way back to the beach, I spotted this little decorator crab. It was tiny, maybe 15mm tall at the most, and that without that "antenna" on the head!

Shark mating season???

On Monday, I joined our guests on the dive boat. It was a public holiday in PNG (Queens Birthday), which is always a good excuse to get out of the office and into the water!
We went to Albatross Passage, probably our best dive site. Once the currents run well and run in the right direction, i.e. in, this is fish soup. It was no different on Monday, with stacks of barracudas, jacks, sweet lips, tuna and sharks.
The interesting bit was that it seems to be shark mating season, with sharks chasing each other along the reef. At one stage, there were three sharks swimming along, like a small train. Unfortunately, the sharks didn't come close enough to take any even half-decent pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Clownfish 13 June 2010

Dietmar and I were meant to go out on the boat, joining our guests, since it's Sunday and we should have some time off, too, every now and then. However, as is so often the case, something came up and the dive boat left without us. Bugger!!
Once we had dealt with another one of those PNG-moments, we decided to go for a shore dive. After all, our house reef has close to 200 different species of fish identified, so there is plenty to see. I could also check on "my mate" again, so off Dietmar and I went.

I reckon it looks much better again, so lets hope we are not going to have another relapse! There was a bit of a current today, so lots of food zooming past, which he happily snapped up. All this time that I've been watching him, he seemed pretty happy, despite the disfiguring lump on his head, the bulging eye and the discomfort both must bring with them. He is a little battler, that's for sure!!

Clownfish 12 June 2010

Wow, what a few days can do! Have a look at these pictures, taking only 5 days after the last one, the one where the wound look quite raw. Now, it looks much better again, so my hopes are up, again!

The eye still worries me, though. It looks so painful, the way it's pushed down and out. Lexa says she has seen fish recover from something like this, so that's good news. I'd love to take the fish, cut away all the junk, pop his eye back in and be able to say "There you go, my dear, all good again!" Unfortunately, it's not that easy, but the cleaner shrimp were at it again today, so lets hope they manage to clean up the wound some more. Or are they the ones causing more damage now? According to Lexa, cleaners can also turn into parasites, so these buggers may actually do more harm than good if they peck at the wound every time it is starting to heal.

He still eats happily, as this picture shows !!