Other Dive Sites

There are other spectatcular dives accessable by the kalibobo Spirit

Cecilia's Reef

Location

This bank, south-west of Goodenough Island, is the tip of a peak rising from a depth of 300 metres to 5 metres below the surface; here it forms a practically oval plateau, about a hundred metres long and 30 wide. The walls descend steeply all around the bank, disappearing into the blue. Although you can dive very deep here, you should not go beyond 25-30 metres as this is where most of the creatures living on this reef can be observed.

Dive

The MTS Discoverer is anchored on the tip of the bank at a depth of 5 metres. From here descend along the walls, going all around the bank without difficulty. Visibility is usually quite good and can reach 30-40 metres.

The reef is teeming with life but it is best to follow the flow of the current (never too strong) to encounter the greatest concentration of fish. There is an incredible variety in number and species with every dive. Around the reef shoals of Fusilierfish and Red Lutjanidae swim in the current seeking food while Labridae and Surgeonfish dart through the corals. The walls are adorned with splendid formations of Tubastrea and Alcyonarians of varying colours and size. Careful observation of the coral Polyps reveals skillfully camouflaged shrimps, crabs and gobies and it is a lot difficult to make out delicate nudibranchs along the wall. Peeking out of the rock crevices are curious moray and, in the corals, anemones, invariably hosting small clownfish, wave their tentacles. You may even see the Rhinopias, perhaps lying close to a splendid crinoid but you must look very closely because this fish is a true master of disguise.

Cecilia’s Reef is the ideal place for a night dive as it is not far from Galaiwa Bay, on the island of Goodenough, where the ship is moored for the night. In the dark you can meet the crabs and shrimps that usually hide in the fissures in the walls and the fish that come out only at night in search of prey, when they feel less vulnerable. You will see fish sleeping in the shelter of madrepore formations and Tubastrea and alcyonarians with the polyps expanded showing off their splendid colours.


Wongs’ Reef (Fergusson Island)

Location

Wong’s Reef is east of the large Fergusson Island, i.e. half a mile west of the small island of Uama. Although the area is partly sheltered from the influx of the open sea, this dive cannot be made when there are strong winds. The intensity of the currents varies from a half to two knots and visibility is nearly always excellent. Nine metres below the surface the reef forms a plateau, a hundred or so metres long and about 50 metres wide; one section to the SE rises to just 5 metres below the surface. To the west there is another small bank, separated from the main channel at a depth of 16 metres. The current nearly always comes from the S-SE.

Dive

You dive from the Melanesian Discoverer anchored at 5 metres from the part of the reef closest to the surface. Abounding in coral formations, fish, clams, sweetlips, groupers, anemones, clownfish, parrotfish and surgeonfish, this reef is particularly attractive for its extraordinary variety of fish species.

Descending southwards you will come to a vertical wall plunging down to the sea bed, with bushes of black coral; the branches of these conceal numerous hawkfish, waiting immobile for prey to pass by, while shoals of curious fish swim all around.

Keep the wall to your left and, at a depth of 25 metres, you will reach a point where the reef extends outwards. Again there are large bushes of black corals and lower down, at about 40 metres, you will often meet a large school of barracuda and grey sharks swimming in the current; these will not hesitate to approach the diver to satisfy their curiosity. On the east and west sides of the reef there are numerous gorgonians and whip corals and on the sandy bed, between 30 and 50 metres down, you can find various dartfish and garden eels. The corals growing on the walls include a comprehensive selection: small crabs, shrimps, nudibranchs, including the uncommon Phyllodesmium Longicirra.

On the reef ledge at a depth of 9 metres you will often see sweetlips and several gapers swimming against the current, waiting for a cleaner fish to come and free their mouths and gills from parasites. This scene is an excellent subject for photographs. As you rise you can stop in the shallower part of the reef, where the boat is anchored, to observe the numerous clams adorned with alcyonarians. Also found here are various types of anemone with their ever-present clownfish. These amusing fish will provide a delightful spectacle should you have to stop for decompression.

When the current is strong this dive can only be made by the most experienced. No night dives are envisaged here.


B17 Bomber (Cape Vogel)

Location

The village of Boga Boga stands on the northern coast of the main island of Papua New Guinea, close to an extension of the land that culminates in Cape Vogel. In front of the beach opposite the small island of Ipoteto a reef not far below the surface extends 200 metres into the sea, descending with a vertical wall to 40-50 metres. Here, resting on the seabed, is the almost intact wreck of an American B-17F bomber from the Second World War. The aeroplane was discovered accidentally in December 1986 by Rod Pearce and David Pennefather, then busy searching for another wreck.

History

The four-engined B-17F, piloted by First Lieutenant De Loach, took off on the night between 10 and 11 July 1943 from Jackson airport with three other planes for a raid on the Rabaul airport of Vunakanua. The plane, nicknamed Black Jack because its serial number ended with 21, experienced problems immediately after take off but the crew decided to continue their mission which, after a few mishaps, was completed. On the way back, however, the engine problems worsened, as too the weather conditions, causing additional difficulties to the aeroplane and the crew. When the B17F managed to emerge from the bad weather it was short of fuel; the crewmembers were not sure of their exact position and decided to attempt an emergency landing in front of Boga Boga. The crew abandoned the plane for a rescue dinghy and the inhabitants of the village rushed to their aid in their traditional canoes.

Dive

The site of the dive is exposed to strong south-easterly and north-westerly winds and is often swept by a current coming from south-east. The dive can be made only in the presence of good weather conditions. The Melanesian Discoverer is usually anchored close to the wreck on the sandy seabed; on windy days it is preferable to sink anchor on the reef which descends to 25 metres.


Observation Point (Fergusson Island)

Location


This particular dive is made in front of a small beach, north-west of Normanby island and opposite the island of Guletabutabu. At Observation Point there are three different types of habitat here : the sandy sea bed descending to 10 metres, a small meadow of seagrass, in front of the beach, and a forest of mangroves, visible to the left looking at the beach. 

Dive


Observation Point is a well sheltered area, especially when the wind is blowing from the south-east. You can dive directly from the MTS Discoverer anchored in front of the beach and fixed to land with a cable. The water is never very clean but this location has so much to offer in shallow waters that one would never surface. You could even go down to 40 metres where large pink alcyonarians, a metre tall, provide a home to small gobies and shellfish; different types of feather worms pop up everywhere. 

The sea bed is mainly sandy and scattered with seagrass; this is where the most bizarre encounters may occur. Splendid crinoids live on the sandy bed, their feathery arms concealing harlequin ghost pipefish and unusual black and white clownfish hide in the tentacles of the anemones, disappearing as the diver approaches. Sole, dartfish and several types of scorpionfish are often seen here. 

In the seagrass you will frequently spot young fish, batfish and shrimpfish, usually living in groups that resemble clouds and move head downwards. Among the other species are Antennariidae, flying gurnard "Dactyloptena Orientalism" sea horses and a special type of trumpefish. Several types of fish, anemones and crabs live in the branches of the Mangroves. This is a good place to moor the ship and you can even spend the night here. 

A nocturnal dive is a must because at night you will see many other creatures besides those mentioned: shells that hide beneath the sand by day, sea urchins moving their prickles to cross the sea bed, nudibranchs, crabs and any many more.  


Balaban's Bommie (Normanby Island)

Location


Balaban's Bommie is a bank situated 1.5 nautical miles from the north-west tip of Normanby Island. The top of the reef, practically oval in shape, lies at a depth of between 1.5 and 3 metres. The walls drop quite steeply to 15-20 metres where a ledge forms and blocks of coral are scattered among the sandy parts; it continues down to 50-60 metres where the sandy bed then gradually descends to a depth of 300 metres. 

Dive


If the sea is calm you anchor close to the top of the reef, to the south-west, from here you can dive and descend along the wall towards the east part of the reef and then return to the boat. As this is quite long, it is hard to do it all in one dive. You should therefore take the zodiac to the south-east tip and return towards the Melanesian Discoverer. 

The almost vertical walls do not have a dense vegetation although you can admire large barrel sponges and crinoids, near which you may be lucky enough to see the famous Rhinopias fish . You must look very carefully because this species has great powers of camouflage. 

Along the walls are various crevices and small caves where different forms of life can be observed: ascidians, blennies, nudibranchs, shrimps, moray and shellfish. Living on the sandy bottom are the fish typical of this habitat, above all small gobies, some in symbiosis with a blind shrimp that looks after the den. 

You may even meet small spotted rays. As you rise, a few metres below the surface, on the east side of the reef you will come to a magnificent garden of hard corals. When the sea is very calm the rays of sunlight penetrating the depths create a marvellous spectacle. You must, however, be extra careful and skilled with the use of the buoyancy compensator because a clumsy move could destroy the patient work of nature. 

The other side is more bare although you will see several types of anemones with their clownfish. Dives can be made in all conditions with the exception of a strong south-easterly wind. Night dives are possible but not usually made as it is preferable to moor the boat in more sheltered areas. 

This dive presents no particular difficulties and is suited to all levels of experience. 


Dinah's Beach (Normanby Island)

Location


Both these dives can be made from Dinah's Beach. The first, one of the most unusual in the Milne Bay area, is made right in front of the beach of the same name, on the northern coast in the bay, past Basilisk Point. The bed slopes to below 50 metres but the most interesting part is from the shore to a depth of 10 metres: the sandy bed has some coral oases full of life. The second dive, Deacon's Reef, is on the opposite side, at the end of the bay at the tip of Basilisk Point. 

Dive parallel to the rocky coast-covered with virgin forest - that slopes down to the sea. The rocks descend to a depth of 8 metres, on a plateau that runs parallel to the coast. 

 

Here there are large blocks of coral adorned with gorgonians and alcyonarians. Slightly farther out the plateau slopes down to 50-60 metres and then plunges to 300. In the break between the two dives you can make a quick visit to two lovely waterfalls set in the lush tropical forest.

Dive
This dive is made from the boat anchored in front of the beach, with the stern fixed by a cable to a palm tree. The bay guarantees good protection from the frequent south-easterly wind but the beach is considerably exposed to north-westerly winds and the open sea, factors negatively affecting conditions of visibility which can vary between 15 and 40 metres. 

As the boat is anchored to the east of the bay, the dive is made parallel to the beach going west. Swimming in this direction you may encounter some blocks of coral, one of which is a so-called cleaning station. Several cleaner shrimps wait here for gropers, moray or other fish wishing to be liberated of their parasites to come and request their services. Swimming all around are numerous young fish including a number of emperor angelfish. Also worthy of note are the large anemones used by lively red clownfish as a hiding place. As you proceed you will come to a flat area formed of large blocks of coral and stones, where at least four different types of lionfish can be found. It is no chance that the area is called "Lioncity". There are also several families of octopus, some peeking out of their refuge and occasionally emerging to seek food or simply for a stroll. 

All around swim numerous other species: puffer fish are common, as too Cuttlefish, hard to distinguish at first glance for their extraordinary camouflage. During this dive you can see ribbon moray and mantis prawns: both live in holes in the sea bed and, being so small, are extremely difficult to see. 

As already mentioned, the most interesting subjects and habitats are to be found at a maximum depth of 10 metres, meaning you can spend far more time underwater in search of some unusual creature. 

This dive presents no difficulties and is suitable for all levels. You must, however, beware of turkeyfish. They show no fear and will approach divers, especially at night, attracted by the bands of light, sometimes exploiting it to strike their prey. When the sea is calm, the clear water permits excellent night diving.