Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An Underwater Christmas

Well, what a Christmas! We went to a lovely little diving hideaway on the north coast of Papua New Guinea just about an hour outside of Alotau. It’s very beautiful and a pretty special place to visit. Their main market is international guests with a penchant for amazing diving. Luckily, they also have a local rate, which is how we could afford to go.

We only stayed for 3 days – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. We arrived on the first day just in time for lunch and diving (a perfect combination for Jane and Cam). Our first two dives, at a location called Wahoo Point, were as amazing as promised, and although we missed the hammerhead sharks, we did get to see at least 11 mobila rays, 3 turtles and a multitude of pretty fishes. For those in the diving know, we are talking about 25 m visibility in warm tropical water. Mmmmm.

On Christmas Eve, after a delicious dinner (we’re talking 3 courses, including soup, and pineapple crumble for dessert) and the biggest glass of wine you’ve ever seen, there was a special treat. Some of the local village people came around and sang Christmas carols in local language (Tawala). There must have been around 50 singers, and they filled up the space not only with their voices, but also with talcum powder. Apparently it is traditional to puff talcum powder everywhere when carols are being sung – perhaps it is making reference to the ‘white Christmas’ sung about in so many songs. Or maybe it’s just to make sure people are smelling nice in the sweltering, tropical heat. But it was amusing to see everyone covered in powder, somewhat amusing to be covered in it yourself, and less amusing for the singers who are trying not to choke on it.

We don't need to expain the white spots in the photo any further do we?

So Christmas Day we woke up (still smelling of talcum power despite long showers the night before) and opened some presents from ‘Santa’ (thanks Santa). We also managed to call both our families to wish them a Merry Christmas, which was nice. For the mornings activities we planned to go on two more dives – to Deacon's reef, and Lauadi, two beautiful dive sites.

Deacon's is a beautiful reef overhung by limestone cliffs and trees, so deep water species (those that like less light) settle and grow right up in the shallows,

in the shadows of the trees...absolutely amazing.

Lauadi is one of the most famous areas the home of "Muck diving" in PNG, that's where Jane got this beautiful picture of a nudibranch (especially for Lyn and Stan),

and, of course Cam took more clownfish photos.

Unfortunately he's actually getting pretty good at it, and had started including Jane in some capacity. Sigh.

We also saw a Titain Trigger fish munching on a starfish, maybe because it was full of reproductive goodness... we discovered in the afternoon on a kayak/snorkeling adventure the starfish were all spawning. So those of you who helped out with Cam's honours can imagine just what this little guy was leaking and what we were swimming through...

We also discovered that Cam never really feels at home in or on the water without his fins.

Here he is at a Fish Aggregation Device – about 300m off shore. This sort of thing is built to help take fishing pressure off the reef by giving the small fish an illusion of shelter, they in turn bring the faster growing pelagic fish which is more sustainable than just fishing the reef.

The other highlight of Christmas day was fresh leg ham! Woohoo!!! Well, it is the little things, and ham is one of them in PNG. Which is surprising really, considering how much pig is bred and consumed here.

On our last day at the resort, we decided to take it easy and only go on one dive (Cam was being very restrained), off the front of the resort. It was just as lovely as the other dives, with more Mobila rays and big batfish and hump head wrasse.

Cam managed to get this shot after some serious effort...

Anyway, the point is we had a lovely Christmas and we both got lai..ed...

Please enjoy our fish (and other) pictures. Next stop at the holiday end of the year – New Years! Have a great one!


Blogger Laura B said...

Merry Christmas my dears!! While you've been diving, enjoying sunshine and tropical hospitality, I've been enjoying English hospitality in Leeds, eating lots of turkey, drinking, and getting addicted to English soap operas!! How our lives differ at the moment - I miss our Christmas Day get together, but am glad all is going well for you both, and we'll chat in the New Year!!
Love from Laura :-)

6:44 am  
Anonymous midget said...

Ciao cam and jane,
Your photos just keep getting cooler and cooler.. Im in an internet cafe in st moritz... This place is pretty beautiful and amazing... should be skiing tomorrow and the family im working for are really nice.
Merry christmas and happy new year by the way...
love u both
speak soon

1:31 am  
Blogger Alix said...

WOW!!! Those are some amazing pictures! I am sooo jealous! (Although, I did get to see some of that stuff when I was there, so I shouldn't complain too much.) MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY 2007!!!

8:33 pm  
Anonymous Bec said...

Hey cam you are getting really good! Great piccies - can u believe that we just got our open waters one month AFTER leaving PNG... hmm. I'm glad you enjoyed tawali - a perfect way to spend christmas.
PS- love the haircut cam ;0)

7:37 pm  
Blogger Elisha Brewster said...

Have you tried Papua new guinea muck dive? Is it nice? Worth it?

11:06 am  

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