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Secret wishes at Kungkungan Bay

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Janice 1

I noticed the other day that my second pair of flip-flops this year is becoming worn out.  The first pair only lasted about six weeks.  Contemplating the lifespan of your flip-flops seems like something a truly mindless person would do, unless you spent the previous seven years in a place where it rained nearly every day, confining your feet to waterproof footwear of some sort almost always.  The state of my flip-flops, then, has been perhaps an unusual reminder that I am moving ahead in my life.  Or at least in my “swimabout”.

I reach this important milestone in my life/swimabout while in a place called Kungkungan Bay at Kungkungan Bay Resort (KBR) just outside of Bitung, Indonesia, which is a city famous for processing tuna.  It appears that I am not so busy if I have time to speculate about the significance of my flip-flops, but really I am, at least in a scuba diver, traveler, photographer kind of way.

Janice 2

We start diving by 8:15, and dive again at 11:15, and 14:45, and if you want, you can have all the shore dives that you would like.  If you are awake for that.  Each dive is preceded by a dive briefing that is accompanied by an illustration on a white board.  The guides describe the general geography of a site, sandy slope, wall, rubble, and indicate what kind of critters we might find. When the dive guide gets to the part where he tells us how long it takes to arrive at the dive site, we laugh every time because usually it is only five to seven minutes and sometimes less.

Janice 3

Janice 4Kungkungan Bay is on Lembeh Strait where the highlight of your day may be diving a site called Hairball.  Lembeh Strait is famous for the type of diving called muck diving.  It is what it sounds like, diving in muck, the bottom, which might include some local refuse, and yet Lembeh is on most divers’ wish list because all sorts of fabulous, unusual and colorful creatures, with sometimes whirling parts (that may be their eyes), live there.   Many probably have yet to be discovered.  Why they do live in such a habitat is a mystery to me – it is a busy and sometimes noisy area – but for some reason they seem to love to inhabit the rubble or the garbage that floats into the sea and reproduce in it.

Janice 5

As a well-read diver, you can arrive at a resort in Lembeh Strait with a long list of creatures that you want to see.  There is a wish list board at KBR and some critters are 100% guaranteed, like pygmy seahorses, whereas others are not, such as a hairy frogfish or harlequin shrimp.  I do not like to make lists of critters because I feel sure then that I will not see them.  But KBR is really like a make-a-wish place for divers.  The guides will say there is no guarantee – they are always saying this – but they pretty much can find whatever you have read about (except perhaps a mermaid, which was an actual request written on the wish list board).

Janice 7

Sea creatures tend to be territorial and in the case of KBR, so do the dive guides.  My dive guide for part of the week was Ade, who has been working for the resort for nearly 18 years. His colleague, Liberty, had been there almost 19 years!  Together they have logged over 25,000 dives.  I am not sure who expects to see who underwater.  The critters may themselves have special names for these two, something elegant I am sure, not hairy and juvenile together.  It was always fun to dive with them because they still like to do it, and they do it with a sense of humor.  One day my camera was out of my reach and so it was handed to Ade.  “Show me the critters,” he said.  One of his colleagues told me to show him anything, just anything.  Of course, he handed the camera to me immediately, before we descended, so I had no chance to show him that I could find a pygmy seahorse before he did.

Janice 10

Secretly however, I did have a list…one creature that I had never seen was the blue-ringed octopus, an animal with one of the most potent venoms on earth.   I do not exactly understand what it is they eat for it to be necessary to deliver such a potent venom because they are not that big.  Of course it might be necessary because of what they are afraid of.  After many years of diving muck sites, on my first dive in Lembeh, the 8:15 dive at Pulau Abadi, a blue-ringed octopus went gliding across the bottom in front of us.   It was skillfully placing each of its legs in succession across the bottom (without disturbing the sand) and any obstacles in the way, like some kind of an extraordinary Olympic runner whose upper body never changes positions even though his legs are furiously working underneath.  The iridescent blue rings were not always on display, but just a swish of your hand in the water above it would cause it to flash them on and off.  It seems like a dangerous game to play because a bite that we might not even feel could kill us (and it is not that big).  But it was hard not to be hypnotized by such a creature because it is both beautiful and intricate.

Janice 12

I had a second wish…to see a Lembeh sea dragon.  This one though I did not keep a secret.  I did not say “I want to see one”, or write it boldly on the board, but I said instead, “how often do you see them?” One day Ade instructed us to entertain ourselves underwater at Nudi Retreat 3 because he was going to focus on finding a Lembeh sea dragon.  Sure I thought, this will be one of those dives like a blue water dive where you have high hopes and you see nothing.  He quickly showed us a hairy squat lobster and an estuarine stonefish, the kind that looks like a sunken shipwreck.  Then he led us to the wall at Nudi Retreat 3 and began to progressively scan through each section of it, oblivious to the other diver and me.  If you try this yourself, which I did, you start to discover a lot of creatures.  I found a super tiny flabellina.

Janice 9

Janice 11And then Ade made his underwater call from his lips, a kind of Three Stooges sounding wowowo.  I came to learn that it would be something pretty sensational when he makes that sound.  The other diver got to him first so I entertained myself with a beautiful closed anemone that was nearby.  I had no idea what it would be.  When it was my turn to look, a Lembeh sea dragon was bouncing around in the water in front of me, like a tiny rubber band attached to something at one end.  I observed it and tried to photograph it, but other divers from the other groups also wanted a chance.  It was a very short two minutes with the sea dragon.  I really wanted to stay and see how it would spend its day, where it would go, if it would travel far from that spot (I did not get the GPS coordinates… ).  I still do not know how often the guides find the sea dragons, but I am glad I was with Ade on one of the days that he did.

Janice 14

Early December seemed to be a shoulder season of sorts for the resort (perhaps I should keep this observation a secret!), and the management bumped me up to a deluxe bungalow on the beach.  Extremely luxurious accommodations, especially for a single traveler. The area though has a high density of resorts, so sometimes we had to go to another dive site because there already were boats from other places.  Once, however, we scheduled a dive to Angel’s Window 15 minutes ahead of time to beat the other boats, but there are plenty of other incredible dive sites so you are never disappointed.  There is always a plan A, B, C, D etc., which are in essence always an “A” plan.  The only dive that did not work was the mandarin fish dive.  Plenty of some of the largest mandarin fish I have ever seen, but no mating pairs.  I still had my own dive guide for most days, and one day I was completely alone on the dive boat for three dives.  For only two days did I have to share Ade with one other guest.  He was a nice man from Singapore who seemed to have a nervous habit of constantly checking the air of the other divers, especially female ones, and to take their photo underwater.  While it is good to have such a conscientious dive buddy, one that sticks close to you, it is not ever a good hair day underwater.

Janice 15

The one bad part about being at a resort as opposed to a liveaboard for diving is that guests come and go at different times, so the party is not over for everyone at the same time.  It is already difficult to meet people and to see them go even when departing at the same time, but to leave when the others are going out for a dive, like to Hairball, is tough.

I had to leave there today.  For a while, I will think about what is happening at 8:15, 11:15, and 14:45 in another small part of the world.  And if I am lucky enough to go there again, I am 100% guaranteed to find Ade and Liberty.

 

Janice Nigro is an avid scuba diver with a PhD in biology.  She is a scientist who has studied the development of human cancer at universities in the USA and Norway, and has discovered the benefits of artistic expression through underwater photography and story writing of her travel adventures.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Veronica Cowley, a contestant in the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-large, chats to Veronica Cowley, a contestant in the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition. The See you at the Sea Festival was an online film festival created by young people, for young people.

Veronica’s film – Worse things Happen at Sea – can be seen here:

Sixth and final in a series of six videos about the competition. Watch the first video HERE with Jenn Sandiford – Youth Engagement Officer with the Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust – to find out more about the Competition. Each day this week will be sharing one video in which Jeff talks with the young contestants about their films and what inspired them.


For more information please visit:

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News

Peli proud to support COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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We know Peli from its popular camera cases, but from discovery to distribution, Peli’s temperature-controlled packaging is now delivering COVID-19 vaccines all over Europe and the Middle East

With the pandemic recovery just underway, COVID-19 vaccines and therapies are rapidly becoming available for use and they must be safely distributed worldwide, within their required temperature range. Peli’s BioThermal™ division is providing temperature-controlled packaging to meet this critical moment, protecting these crucial payloads.

Peli’s innovative cold chain packaging has been trusted for nearly 20 years by pharmaceutical manufacturers to safely ship their life-saving products around the world. To meet the current challenge, they have adapted their existing products to provide deep frozen temperatures when required for the newly developed life sciences materials. Current and new offerings will ensure the cold chain is maintained throughout the vaccine or therapy’s journey, maximising efficacy and patient health.

“We know that pharmaceutical companies are in all phases of the development process for vaccines and therapeutics and working tirelessly to bring safe and effective drug products to market quickly,” said Greg Wheatley, Vice President of Worldwide New Product Development and Engineering at Peli BioThermal. “Our engineering team matched this urgency to ensure they have the correct temperature-controlled packaging to meet them where they’re at in drug development for the pandemic recovery, from discovery to distribution.”

Peli BioThermal’s deep frozen products use phase change material (PCM) and dry ice systems to provide frozen payload protection with durations from 72 hours to 144+ hours. Payload capacities range from 1 to 96 litres for parcel shippers and 140 to 1,686 litres for pallet shippers.

New deep-frozen solutions are ideal for short-term vaccine storage, redirect courier transport of vaccines from freezer farm hubs to immunisation locations and daily vaccine replenishment to remote and rural areas.

Peli BioThermal temperature-controlled packaging is currently being used to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, either directly or through global transportation providers, in Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the UK as well as in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, with more countries set to join the list as the pandemic recovery process rolls out.

To learn more about the wide range of deep frozen Peli BioThermal shippers, visit Peli.com and PeliBioThermal.com for more information.

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