Prettiest Places: Gunung Api

On a two week maiden voyage of Kararu’s Voyager through the Banda Sea, we visited an island named Gunungapi or Snake Island. The area is notorious, as it is crawling with banded sea snakes (extremely venomous). I wasn’t too excited about spending a lot of time here for the snakes, but along the outside wall of the dive site was a gorgeous area where giant sponges and multi-colored seafans draped the reef as far as the eye could see. This trip took us to many really pretty areas, but this was one of my favorites. That’s the late Jim Watt, modeling for me.

Bonnie, would you please hold this while I take your picture?

Some of the prettiest places I’ve been: Fiji

I’ve been surrounded by a lot of ugly, negative people lately, so I decided to post things that are pretty for the next couple of days.

One of the prettiest places I’ve been is Fiji. I’ve made about ten trips there over the years and didn’t find the best diving until I got aboard Nai’a, who took me to Namena. That was years ago and I’ve returned there again, this time on the Fiji Aggressor. The boat was horrible and I would never charter another trip with them, but several of the places we went were absolutely gorgeous! This was taken at a dive site called Ulia’s Find. Thank you Ulia. I loved it!

Great White Shark

Last of my “things that could kill you” series of photos is one of my favorites. The great white sharks at Guadalupe Island are some of the most magnificent creatures I’ve seen underwater. Yes, they could eat me in a heartbeat, but that’s not what they want to do. We know it, they know it. It is too bad that the media twist every story about a great white as being an “attack”. Humans kill more sharks in a day than sharks kill humans in a year.

Blue Ring Octopus

One of the most venomous animals in the ocean is just an inch or so in size. One bite from this little guy and a diver would be unconscious before he even had a chance to surface.

This was the first time I’d seen this species of blue ring octopus. We were on an exploratory dive in Raja Ampat aboard Dive-Damai. The DM are not normally tank-bangers, but Chris was going nuts, so I immediately swam over to see what he found. Set up with my 105 lens, I snapped a couple of shots.

Spooked by my presence, the little guy quickly bolted into a dark corner of the reef. Just as soon as I pulled my camera away from my eyes, I saw it do a 180 and dart right back toward me, lodging itself somewhere in my BC just below my jugular.

The DMs quickly grabbed my arm to investigate where it went. I handed my camera off to my buddy Dee, who didn’t see what had happened. Both DMs turned me around and signaled to me to open up my BC. I didn’t want to look down, because I was afraid I would squish it under my chin.

I was surprised that I didn’t panic at all, but many thoughts rushed through my head in just a few seconds. I was wondering if it did bite me, and if I would feel it. Would I just fall asleep or would it hurt? I thought that if I did die, how it would ruin this wonderful trip for everyone else. And of course I thought about the unfinished business in my life. I did realize that if I were to die in the next minute, I could not think of a better way to do it. I was on a dream trip on a boat with my dearest friends. And I realized that I didn’t have a lot of unfinished business. I’m very blessed to have had an exciting, adventurous life and if this was my time to go, then so be it.

I opened up my BC and leaned forward. I saw the little guy swim down from somewhere in my BC, down to the reef. I was quite relieved. Dee handed my camera back to me and we both proceeded to capture some awesome shots of this rare and beautiful critter.

Once we got back to the boat my friends were already dividing up my scuba and camera gear amongst themselves. That’s what I would have wanted anyway.

Pretty Green Snakes

I’ve seen these small green snakes in areas around Indonesia and the locals always get quite excited, screaming and yelling to stay away. I don’t know what kind of snake it is, but I think it could be a pit viper. Their beautiful green color makes them very photogenic if you can get the shot before someone kills the animal. If this is in fact a pit viper, they are quick to bite, but it is seldom fatal.

Since posting this a friend told me this is a green tree python and is not dangerous. Thank goodness, since I did have to get pretty close to get this shot!