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Beautiful Rock – an amazing new dive site in Mommon, Indonesia

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As group leaders specializing in Indonesia and the Bird’s Head Seascape, Maurine and I are always looking for new itineraries and ways to improve our standard trip routes.  For a number of years we have led an itinerary that starts in Sorong (Raja Ampat) and ends, or round-trips, in Kaimana (Triton Bay).  This journey, however, involves a long, 210 mile, passage between the southern part of Raja (SE Misool) and Triton.  Divers, myself included, never want to spend time motoring when they could be diving, so a stop in the Pisang Islands and another near Mommon (halfway between Pisang and Triton) is usually the itinerary we choose.  There is an outstanding site in Pisang, plus a couple of others that are good, so this stopover is usually a hit for the long transit day.  But until my most recent trip aboard the MV Pindito, the Mommon stopover was, well…other than a visit to the picturesque waterfall…a diving bust!

cMy colleagues at Conservation International suggested that I check out the small islands outside the bay, just west of Mommon peninsula.  There are a few islets in the area, so we thought we’d give at least one of them a try, offering an exploratory dive instead of a visit to the waterfall.  I have done a LOT of exploratory diving (we specialize in developing new itineraries), but frankly most exploratory dives aren’t very productive, and we try to avoid doing many when we have guests onboard.  Now and then, however, we get lucky and uncover a real jewel.

Late last October our group dropped in on Mommon’s outer islands. We chose the southwest corner (ocean side) of the third islet in the four-islet chain.  The reef was average at best, comprised mostly of stormed-dwarfed, low profile hard corals.  I knew this was no prize, but as we swam east, around the southern tip of the islet and headed back north along the east side into the channel between the islet and Mommon peninsula (the mainland), we began to see a few large, soft-coral covered bommies.  The reef was definitely more interesting here.  As we continued north along the east or channel side of the islet, we encountered a giant grouper, then spotted an even giant-er one. The site was hot and becoming even hotter as we swam by a series really big soft coral-covered boulders.  Draped with glassfish and sweepers, these boulders were nothing short of amazing.

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IN P RA_110407_0789-686x1024Besides this vibrant reef scene, we also spotted plenty of small stuff to keep the critter fans happy.  A reef octopus sitting on a hard coral with a pair of robust ghost pipefish at its base was a delight, as were several nudibranch species.  Zillions of skeleton shrimp colonized a single sea fan, and, while the fan’s polyps were retracted, from a distance the shrimp appeared to be extended polyps in feeding mode.

Everyone agreed there was no need for further exploration that day. We, happily, decided to dive the same site again before motoring to Triton Bay.  This area begs for more exploration, but for now Mommon has at least one “must stop” dive! The Pindito staff called it simply Batu Cantik (Beautiful Rock)!

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GPS: S 03 56.492  E 132 48.229

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Burt Jones and his wife Maurine Shimlock have dived extensively in Indonesia and throughout the Bird’s Head. To view more of their work visit their website, Secret Sea Visions.

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock are award-winning marine life photographers whose assignments have taken them around the world to portray diverse subjects including the world’s longest underwater cave in Mexico and nesting sea snakes in Borneo. Their photographs have been published internationally, and Secret Sea, a collection of their photographs, was honored with the Benjamin Franklin award as the best book printed world-wide. Burt and Maurine’s lively and informative teaching style and their “Stop Taking Pictures and Start Creating Images” seminar, which they present on their Secret Sea Visions “Scuba Safaris”, have helped hundreds of marine life photographers improve their technique. Burt and Maurine are renowned “critter spotters” and their images often reveal habits and habitats of creatures many people never see for themselves. In June 2008 they began working with Conservation International as consultants on sustainable marine tourism. Burt and Maurine’s long-term project is to explore, photograph, and to produce guidebooks and website content for the remote and uncharted dive sites around Raja Ampat and the rest of the Bird’s Head Seascape in West Papua. Their guidebook, Diving Indonesia’s Raja Ampat, was released in late 2009. A revised and expanded sequel, Diving Indonesia’s Bird’s Head Seascape, was published in late 2011. The Bird’s Head Seascape website, www.birdsheadseascape.com, launched in June, 2014. To learn more about Burt and Maurine, their images and scuba safari programs visit their website, www.secretseavisions.com.

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Tourism Fiji celebrates Open for Happiness Campaign (Watch Trailer)

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As international borders reopen to the world this week, Tourism Fiji launched the first video piece in it’s Open for Happiness campaign. The team celebrated this at an event at Wyndham Resort Denarau Island, where they unveiled some of the content to crew who worked on the production as well as tourism stakeholders.

Tourism Fiji is delighted to partner with award-winning actress, comedian and producer, Rebel Wilson, the new Ambassador of our global reopening campaign.

Ms. Wilson has fond memories of visiting Fiji as a child and returned to share her love of a destination that offers so much to visitors and is largely vaccinated.

She was joined by a talented pool of Fijian cast and crew to shoot Tourism Fiji’s Open for Happiness campaign in the Mamanuca Islands, where she also sampled a range of experiences.

“Rebel is a talented actress and demonstrates a unique ability to bring her own style of heartfelt humour to the ad that Tourism Fiji is creating,” said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

“We’re delighted to have her as an ambassador who resonates with Fiji and our key tourist markets; Australia, North America, New Zealand and Europe.”

Rebel hiked, did yoga, stand up paddleboarding, scenic helicopter tour, spa treatment, cocktails and visited a popular sandbar.  She was seen stepping out in some local designer wear from Samson Lee and Zuber and enjoyed the hospitality of Vomo Island Fiji.

Her destination highlights of Fiji were shared with her fanbase, including 10.3 million followers on social media platform Instagram, and helped amplify Fiji’s allure as a holiday destination that has now safely reopened to international travellers on December 1st.

Filmed in Fiji over the course of last month, the campaign is the result of the collaborative work of several local partners including activity providers, talented singers, entertainers, videographers, local actors, and extras on set.

“This campaign would not have been possible without the support of our industry stakeholders, and we’re pleased to showcase a global star such as Rebel and the talent of local cast and crew,” said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

Rebel also enjoyed a sunset cruise featuring a live performance by talented local artist, Apakuki “Kuki” Nalawa and shared snippets across her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels.

“With all that’s happened over the last two years, tourism has been badly affected and the entertainment industry has been hit hard by this as well, – the live performance was an eye-opener, a breath of fresh air and gave us all hope that things will get better,” Mr Nalawa said.

“It’s so encouraging to witness a Hollywood actress and her media team enjoying not only the beauty that our country has to offer but also recognising the level of talent we have.”

Tourism Fiji’s Open for Happiness campaign with Rebel will be used into 2022. Further video clips will launch over the coming weeks.

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Announcing the Winners of the DPG/Wetpixel Masters Underwater Imaging Competition 2021

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DivePhotoGuide (DPG) and Wetpixel are proud to announce the winning images and videos in the 2021 edition of the DPG/Wetpixel Masters Underwater Imaging Competition. Once again, hundreds of photographers and filmmakers from dozens of countries competed in what has become known as the “World Championship” of international underwater imaging events.

Created by DPG and Wetpixel, two of the largest online resources for underwater shooters, the competition invited submissions to five image categories and a video category, with entries evaluated by a panel of illustrious industry experts and award-winning photographers: Florian Fischer, Imran Ahmad, Jennifer Hayes, Mike Bartick and Stephen Frink.

This year, Martin Broen received the “Best of Show” prize for his 1st place in the Black and White category. The image, a jaw-dropping capture of the pristine stalactites and stalagmites in a Mexican cenote, earned Martin the top cash prize of $1,000. The 1st place winners in the other categories were Julian Hsu (Macro Traditional), Sander van der Heijden (Macro Unrestricted), Enrico Somogyi (Wide Angle Traditional), Tom Shlesinger (Wide Angle Unrestricted) and Alex del Olmo (Video); each of them received a cash prize of $250.

In a joint statement, DPG Editor-in-Chief Joseph Tepper and Wetpixel Publisher Adam Hanlon said: “Once again, the DPG/Wetpixel Masters competition has demonstrated the incredible talent that exists in our community of underwater shooters. As many of us continue to face lockdowns and travel restrictions, these photos and films remind us of the riches under the sea and why we must maintain our collective passion to protect the oceans we love.”

The organizers are pleased to announce that 15 percent of entry proceeds will once again be donated to marine conservation efforts.

You can see the full results here.

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

Price NOW from just £975 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from London Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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