Other Dive Sites

There are other spectatcular dives accessable by the kalibobo Spirit

Deacon's Reef

This area is particularly sheltered and dives can be made in nearly all conditions except when there is a north-westerly wind. There may sometimes be a slight current on the reef. When the sea is very calm the MTS Discoverer is anchored on a broad coral formation 5 metres below the surface. It is, however, usually preferable to sink anchor in front of Dinah's Beach and transfer divers by dinghy to the diving point, from where they swim towards the beach to the boat. It is best not to anchor over the diving point because there are corals of all kinds, form and colour, some truly singular, and they would be irreparably damaged by the anchor or chain. 

The plants growing on the emerging rocks, probably due to particular current conditions and the shade create this concentration of corals and gorgonians, one of which is really huge. If you observe the gorgonians carefully, you will find several types of shell camouflaged; they cover themselves with a mantle that perfectly reproduces the appearance of expanded coral polyps. 

The dive can also be made on the wall descending to 50 metres; hammerhead sharks and eagle rays have often been sighted at this point. The wall is certainly less interesting than the top of the reef but with a little luck and an attentive eye you will see the tapering silhouette of a shark in the blue depths. The rocky wall of the coast has numerous crevices, some very deep; there is also a cave that can only be visited with the proper equipment. This dive does not present any particular difficulties and is suitable for all levels. The plateau 8 metres below the surface is also a good place for a night dive.


Banana Bommie

Location


Banana Bommie is a bank in Milne Bay Province, at the mouth of the Bay of the same name, to the north. The diving zone is a bank that rises to six metres below the surface. Oval in shape and lying from south to north, it is approx. 100 metres long and thirty metres wide, the walls fall quite steeply to 30-40 metres on a sandy sea bed with blocks of coral of varying dimensions . The most interesting area - the east wall - presents attractive rifts where many forms of life thrive. 

Dive


The MTS Discoverer drops anchor in the channel of dead coral formed by a ship that ran aground on this reef, generally beaten by a current coming from north-east. You dive into the water from the boat to 6 metres; proceed to the wall facing north-east, the most interesting one and teeming with fife. Keeping the wall to your left you can descend to the sand at 30 metres, where numerous garden eels peep out of their holes. Along the wall are large bushes of black coral, the branches hiding small hawkfish, huge barrel sponges and gorgonians of all types and colours. The ever-present glassfish dart in and out of crevices and alcyonarians sway gracefully in the water. 

There is great activity all over the wall and on the upper part of the reef with shoals of fish passing incessantly. As you rise you will see a multicoloured array of crinoids attached here and there like flowers. The dive is not difficult despite the presence of surface current. If you stop along the reef and look towards the open sea you will often see large tuna fish streaking past the wall, probably in search of prey, while small shoals of carangids and fusilierfish swim all around the bank in a whirl of silver reflections. 

At depths of 20-30 metres it is fairly common to encounter a stationary group of 4-5 batfish; these will allow you to approach almost until you are touching them. 

When the current is flowing from south-east the boat is anchored on the northernmost tip of the reef; the dive is therefore made in the opposite sense to come to the same places. In this case the route is slightly longer. 

On return to the top of the reef you will find several anemones with their clownfish and careful observation of the coral reef will often reveal a blenny peeping out of its den. As you have to return to the point of departure, any necessary stops for decompression can be made on the anchor chain or on the trapeze situated three metres below the surface for this purpose. 


Quark Rock (Island) - (Egum Atoll)

Location


This dive can only be made when the sea is calm. Egum Rock is far from the coast, 100 miles north-east of the island of Normanby and lacks safe shelter. The rock rises in the middle of the sea from a depth of 600-700 metres to 30 metres above the surface of the water. Practically round in shape, it has a diameter of about 50 metres. Various species of birds nest in the branches of the trees growing on its surface, including some large birds of prey. 

Dive

The boat is anchored on the south side of the island to avoid the current from the north. You can dive all around the rock: the conditions underwater are fairly uniform, a plateau lies at a depth of 6 metres, then the walls, not densely covered with vegetation except for the odd sheltered crevice, drop vertically. Between the plateau and the reef you can see numerous yellow alcyonarians and nudibranchs, lobsters and moray live in the crevices in the walls. 

The purpose of this dive is to seek pelagic and passing fish; sightings, however, depend mainly on the intensity of the current which determines and controls the flow of fish around the Rock. If the current is not too strong you can dive from the MTS Discoverer anchored to the south and reach the plateau 6 metres below the surface, move to the northern side and descend along the wall, where shoals of barracuda live. Looking deeper you will make out the silhouettes of grey sharks; it is not unusual on the edge of the drop to meet smaller, white-finned sharks. All around the rocks there are carangids, during the mating period swimming in pairs, the male with dark markings and the female the usual silver colour. Mantas, tuna fish and ocean sharks may arrive at any time out of the blue. 

If the current is strong or you want to avoid swimming to the southern side, the best solution is to use a zodiac to reach the diving spot and then drift with the current on one of the two sides of the rock towards the boat at anchor. 

Both on the wall and on the plateau at a depth of 6 metres you will spot various types of fish in shoals or alone, dented sweetlips and soldierfish to name but a few. The plateau also has hard coral formations of a lovely green-yellow colour and it is not unusual to see large crabs and yellow hermit-crabs. When the current is strong only the most experienced should dive. No night dives are made at Egum Rock because it is best to moor the MTS Discoverer at Egum atoll after sunset. 


Hollis Reef (East Cape)

Location


The Hollis Reef bank is just on the outside of the western side of Egum atoll, a hundred miles or so from Normanby Island. As it is in the open sea with no shelter, it can only be reached when the water is calm. 

The bank rises from a seabed at 600 metres to 6 metres below the water surface; the walls drop fairly steeply towards the bottom. All the walls are interesting and rich in vegetation but the south-east one is definitely the most lush. 

Dive


You dive directly from the MTS Discoverer moored above the bank, rarely visited by divers as it is quite far from the coast. The water is crystal-clear and there is a slight current. Swim to the edge of the wall that descends without end into the blue depths. As you go you will be accompanied by small white-finned sharks that approach to satisfy their curiosity . Proceed and you will enter a thick forest of gorgonians and small alcyonarians. 

Below 30 metres you may encounter grey sharks that will maintain their distance. In 1988 Bob Halstead and his wife Dinah accompanied Ron and Valerie Taylor on this bank for a shark feeding experiment. 

The main feature of this dive is the forest of yellow and red gorgonians, some truly remarkable in extension that covers the south-east wall. 

Dimensions, forms, colours and number are amazing but their singularity lies in the fact that they grow horizontally not vertically as is the norm (probably because the wall is so sheer or perhaps the high waves and rough sea have made them change direction). 

There are also barrel sponges, whip corals and alcyonarians; humphead wrasse can be spotted swimming in circles above the gorgonians, as too various species of gregarious fish. Large anemones are also to be found with their clownfish and cowrie concealed beneath their shell. 

At the top of the bank there are low formations of hard corals with anthias swimming through them and, if you look carefully, you will also see the odd blenny peeking out of its den. 

There is no night diving at Hollis Reef. The bank is a distance from the coast and offers no shelter so the MTS Discoverer is moored inside the atoll. 

This dive is suitable for all levels of experience.


Two Tank Dive

Location


The purpose of this dive is to explore two small Japanese tanks from the Second World War, lying at a depth of just 4 metres in the natural harbour of Makada, to the north-west of the extreme tip of Duke of York Island. The bottom is mainly sandy, broken only by a few blocks of coral and the marine life is concentrated around these. The water is never clear and the two tanks are 20 metres from the calcareous coast of the island; a tropical shower is all that is needed to make the water even more cloudy. This point is fairly sheltered and dives can be made in nearly all weather conditions. 

History


The wrecks of Makada are two standard 97 CHI-HA tanks weighing 15 tons each. Armed with a 57 mm short-barrel cannon and two 7.7 mm machine-guns, these vehicles were propelled by a 12 V cylinder 170 horsepower diesel engine producing a maximum speed of 38 kilometres per hour. The crew of four men was fairly comfortable thanks to excellent suspensions. Manufactured by Mitsubishi, the CHI-HA were the backbone of the Japanese armoured corps and were on the whole quite sturdy and reliable in all situations. 

Dive
The dive is made from the MTS Discoverer, anchored close to the coast of Duke of York Island. 

After diving down to the sandy bottom, proceed towards the wrecks. The shallow water and type of sea bed calls for cautious movement to avoid raising the suspension with your flippers, thus ruining visibility. Discovered by Frank Butler, an expert on the waters around Rabaul, the two Japanese tanks lie one in front of the other, parallel to the coast. They are in excellent condition despite having been underwater for fifty years; only the two cannons are missing. Around the two wrecks you will see the remains of a landing vessel which, quite probably, was carrying the tracked vehicles to the island; this must have been bombed and sunk, leaving them in their present position. 

Swimming around the wrecks, you will also see ammunition, mechanical parts, tin plates, cups and other personal effects of the vessel’s crew. If you have time left after visiting the wrecks, you can explore the whole surrounding area, which harbours many surprises. Besides the small coral fish you will see crocodilefish, dowries, starfish and many gobies. This dive presents no difficulties and can be made even by beginners. The area around the tanks can also be of interest for those who dive without air, a mask, mouthpiece and flippers will suffice for a fascinating perusal from the surface.  


Mitsubishi Zero, Rabaul

Location


The wreck of this aeroplane, a Mitsubishi A6M3 Reisen, better known as Zero, lies on a dark sandy bottom at a depth of between 30 and 35 metres, less than 100 metres from the beach. This fighter could be one of the just under 300 Japanese planes shot down between October 1943 and March 1944 in the skies of Rabaul. The diving point is at the tip of Gazelle peninsula, in Blanche Bay, in front of the beach between Raluana Point and the main town of Kokopo. This location can be reached by sea or overland, as the road from Kokopo runs right to the beach. 

History


The Zeros, considered one of the most famous fighting planes of the Second World War, were for a long time the symbol of Japanese air power. They first came into action in China in October 1940 and remained in use until the end of the war in the Pacific, commanded by Kamikaze pilots in their suicide attacks on the American fleet. 

The aeroplane had a wingspan of 12 metres, was 9 metres long and weighed 1680 kilos when empty. Capable of reaching a maximum speed of 545 kilometres per hour, it was usually armed with two small 20 mm cannons installed in the wings and two 7.7 mm machine guns behind the engine hood. If needed it could also carry up to 120 kilograms of bombs. This plane’s exceptional manoeuvrability and its range gave the Japanese a distinct air supremacy for the first months of the war in the Pacific. 

Dive


Starting from the beach, you dive above two reefs that stretch towards the sea. Once you have arrived at a depth of 15 metres you proceed southwards. The sandy bottom slopes quite gently and starfish abound. A cable fastened to the bottom leads to a depth of 30metres, where the outline of the wreck, lying on the seabed. A small moray lives with its leaner prawn in the metal of the tail and, intrigued by the arrival of strangers, will peek out of its hole. This dive is suited to all levels of experience.