This trip more or less eventuated because I bought some new toys – new BCD and regs (…there goes my 2016 tax return), as well as a new macro lens for my camera. Also, I was really really stressed out and just needed to go for a dive. It’s been a couple of years since my real last trip to Lembeh (because I was convinced I had to go see what all the fuss over Ambon was about), so I thought that it would be a good place to go test out my new gear.
Due to an atrocious exchange rate at the moment, I decided to make an effort to do a bit more local diving this year. I was hesitant about diving the Great Barrier Reef due to all the reports of coral bleaching and coral death, but at the end of the day, I just really needed to get out for a dive!
Rejoice! For I return to my favourite dive spot! This is the benchmark by which I judge all other diving. Some say that is cruel and unfair. I say that’s just reality. As divers, we all do it, it’s just that my benchmark happens to be, well…Milne Bay 🙂
After a number of trips to Lembeh (the last of which was admittedly a bit underwhelming), I thought it was time to switch it up a bit. On the advice of a couple of professional underwater photographers, it was suggested that I try Ambon. Their reasoning was that it’s “critters without crowds”, which it turns out is pretty much the marketing slogan of all the dive operations in Ambon. There are still only 3-4 dive operations in Ambon at the moment, unlike the 20-30 that are operating around Lembeh. I was reliably informed the diving was supposed to be “same-same, but different” in terms of the critters, but without the dive sites being overcrowded. In all honesty, I never really found overcrowding to be an issue in Lembeh anyway – except on the evening mandarin fish dives. Perhaps it just comes down to which resort you stay at and how well they plan out the dive schedule each day?
Once upon a time, when I was a teenager, I was sent unwillingly (hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?) to West Papua to visit a family member who was working up there on a job contract. I hadn’t been a certified diver for very long at the time, and only managed to get in a handful of dives down near Misool. I’m not sure how my feelings about the diving were coloured by the fact I was a bratty high school senior who really didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, but I remember thinking it was totally overrated compared to the Great Barrier Reef (where I’d learned to dive in the first place). Bearing in mind that that trip was almost 20 years ago when diving in that region was in its very infancy, and I was an obnoxious teenager…This year I thought it was about time to return to go and do it properly – and with a camera!
Every year, the Great Barrier Reef is host to a mass coral spawning event. It occurs 4-5 nights after the full moon between late October and early December, coincident with the water temperatures having gradually risen to a warm enough temperature to trigger the eggs and sperm to mature within the corals – generally once water temps have reached consistent 26C for the month prior to the full moon, so the exact dates vary from year to year depending on the lunar cycle and how early it warms up after winter. While there is still some uncertainty about why it happens, it happens like clockwork every year. In 2015, the required conditions occurred on the night of November 29th.
Some people say home is a feeling, rather than a place. This is why I call London home. More than anywhere else in the world I’ve ever travelled or lived, London brings me that sense of happiness and contentment.