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GL BAL TREASURE

INDONESIA

64

ur expedition through this enchanting, unspoilt outpost of Indonesia began with navigational charts, the Rapid Assessment 2010 report by Mark Erdmann PhD, and co-ordinates from ‘Diving Indonesia’s Bird’s Head Seascape’, a book published by Saritaksu and Conservation International. Txus Reiriz, the captain of our expedition pointed the Seahorse south to Tridacna Atoll, an expanse of reef formation approximately 25 kilometres east of Tanjung Busurua, off the northeast tip of the Wandammen Peninsula. From Manokwari, it was an overnight sail of over 12 hours. We began with a couple of sites surveyed by Mark on his previous expeditions before venturing to a few of our own.

Over the vastness of the atoll, we found layer upon layer of mighty plate corals in immaculate condition; the reef tops were adorned with some of healthiest hard coral meadows we had ever seen. Dramatic vertical walls with prolifc sea whips and colourful sponges, abound on the outside reefs. We did however, fnd pockets of severely damage reefs, possibly casualties of either dynamite fshing or coral bleaching events; many in various stages of recovery, scattered with youthful colonies of staghorn corals. Before we came, we were told to expect low fsh biomass ( in layman terms, very few fshes ) Though indeed, fsh densities are were low at a few sites, we repeatedly encountered massive schools of fshes along ridges, especially where tidal or ocean currents converge. One afternoon, while shooting a panorama of a feld of hard corals, I looked up to see a gazillion damselfshes congregating for an evening spawning session. Spell bound, I stayed till my tank ran dry.

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