From a divers perspective, the most unwanted gift from Mother Nature is the wind blowing up. Over the last few days we have been hit by a turn in wind direction, arriving from the South-East, which for this part of the world also means strength. With that comes the inevitable rise in sea swell, waves above the surface and strengthening currents beneath. At some point safety has to override the eagerness to get to the outer reefs & we retire to the shelter from the conditions within our local Fjords.
I’ve heard a multitude of phrases on my travels that all boil down to the same point – once you spend some time in a particular location you tend to lose sight of what is actually on offer in your immediate vicinity, only to find a sudden and hastened urge to see it all at once when you know you are moving on. I spent just over 4 years on a small island in the Gulf of Thailand that measures 6.2km from North to South; Did I visit every location on offer? Nope, nowhere near. I slipped into the same rut that most others do, finding a routine for my day-to-day ventures and wearing the blinkers that we all do from time to time. Needless to say, I’m not wearing the blinkers anymore.
Back to Mother Nature – Over the past week we have monitored the weather and when the opportunity arrives, carefully crept out to the reefs to snaffle a dive or two. Alas, over the weekend it was time to admit defeat and hastily retreat to the Fjords. So far this year we have been returning to Tufi Wharf, Blue Ribbon & Buame to conduct our Fjord dives. All deliver some form of beauty, whether that be in the form of colorful corals or a variety of macro (small critters) life; but in all honesty, I expected more from the Fjord diving in such a bio-diverse location. A quick chat with my Dive Master team and I find that Hubert’s Reef (located further into Tufi Fjord and named after the local chap who resided there some years ago) has not been dived since this time last year. Decision made, “Take us to it Andy!”
The high rising fingers of land on either side of the boat afforded us great protection from the wind with the water’s surface in an almost pond-like condition. This section of the Fjord is roughly 45m across and has shallow reef on either side descending from 1m to approximately 50m at the deepest point. Whilst donning my dive equipment I can hear my inner thoughts tentatively inquiring as to the visibility (it looked very green and green water means rubbish vis in the dive book).
All the same, we jumped in and started our descent to depths of 14-18m meandering along the reef wall, amazingly the vis is 10-15m! With 4 customers diving I had elected Dive Master Alex to lead the way which gave me the opportunity to have a good mooch around and see what this area has to offer.
I was far from disappointed as the very first coral outcrop was bustling with Glass Fish & Fauna and sure enough, the macro too. A number of extremely small Nudibranchs & various types of transparent shrimp where out in plain view. “At last, the macro I have been expecting from PNG!”
We continued along the reef, moving over outcrops, gentle slopes and a number of boulders. Each outcrop had more macro on display, Banded Boxer Shrimp in numbers I’ve never witnessed before and 2 beautiful big Green Turtles.
Yet again the surprising thing about diving at Tufi is the interaction with the aquatic life. Sure, we don’t touch, we are merely visiting these creatures homes, but the residents themselves are curious as to who/ what we are. This Turtle was no exception, she started to move away and then one look over her shoulder she spun a 360 to come and check us out again.
After 50+ minutes of diving we clambered back onto the boat and the elation that partners a fantastic experience was clear to see on everyone’s faces, shortly followed by the multitude of discussions of the dive in its entirety.
Stay tuned for more stories in the near future as I can assure you, we will be exploring every inch of this underwater metropolis that is Tufi Fjord.
All photographs were taken with the Canon G7x MkII, encased in the FG7x Fantasea Housing. You may like to read my opinion of the equipment in my previous blog Novice Photographer: Its a steep but enjoyable learning curve.