Central Province - November 18 to 26, 2016
We welcome a full house from Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Japan and the USA for the weekend leg of our journey through the Florida and Russell Islands.
Thanks to Takuya Nakamura, for the fantastic images throughout this post.
Our day began at Ghavutu Wharf for a checkout dive. Kevin and Susan (who will be with us for a month!) started out as they meant to go on, with a huge mantis shrimp. Ben, Rebecca, Isabel, Tija, Emma and Sol, found his smaller brown cousin and an upside-down jellyfish on their dive with Jax. Team Mike, consisting of Peter, Judy, Sardi and Rob as well as our American friends checked out the small critters under the wharf itself, while James and the Japanese contingent of Yukio, Yukiko, Takuya, Tatsuko, Misako and Yujiro got their cameras primed and ready for this muck site. Finally, John’s team of Mark, Richard, Pam, Kevin M, Fiona and David went for a tour of the collapsed Japanese Guard Post from WWII. What a busy dive to begin with! Second dive of the day was at Garbage Patch where Emma, Sol, Isabel and Tija found a new barge we had previously not seen. Takuya was snapping away as the Japanese divers swam between the wreckage of the Chinese fishing boats and Kevin & Susan were once again on the hunt for little critters. The third dive of the day was Tanavula, where divers like Fiona and David were marveling at the brightly coloured nudibranchs. Sardi and Rob loved just floating along the magnificent wall and Kevin & Mark found huge amounts of fish. Ed’s Wall was dive number four and snorkeler Janine could look down on the divers and a huge marble ray they had found. She and self-title ‘Snorkel King’ Zonnie had a whale of a time. The final dive of an epic day in the Floridas was at the sea mound ’Baby Cakes’. Five of our divers did their first ever night dive including Rebecca who even managed to find a turtle. Ben saw a conspicuous sea cucumber and Pam was lucky enough o see a cuttlefish. What a day!
Well, Baby Cakes was so good that we dived it twice. In the morning, it proved no less amazing. Sardi and Rob hovered right over a crocodile fish. Peter found a blue spotted lagoon ray and other divers saw morays, porcelain crab and a whole ton of fish. Dive 2 was at Tanabosi Rock, where an interesting current spun our divers in the opposite direction throughout the dive, never mind though, they were still able to see huge schools of red tooth trigger fusiliers and rainbow runners. Fiona and David found a few more interesting nudis. Third up was Switzer where Rob and Sardi got up close to some black tip sharks and Susan found yet another mantis shrimp. Luke and Janine were on the hunt for giant clams on their snorkel. Final dive of the weekend trip was at Patrick Bay where everyone loved flying along the reef in the current. After it slowed we could check out the sights. An eagle ray was spotted by John, Pam and Richard, while Emma, Jax and Tija saw an octopus squeezed into an impossibly small gap in the coral. With that we turned and headed for Honiara, another successful weekend trip over. Farewell to our Aussie, Kiwi and Portuguese guests.
Onward we travel to the Russells with our divers from the USA and Japan. First stop White Beach, where Kevin and Susan fell in love with the site and the archerfish hanging out in the shallows. Takuya spotted a huge marble ray and Misako and Tatsuko saw a sneaky octopus hiding in a jeep body. Rainbow Reef was up next and Yujiro loved swimming into the current and checking out the chevron barracuda with Japanese guide Yukiko. Next, we headed for Samsaeon where the group was immediately approached by a formation of four eagle rays, followed up by a school of over 300 big eye trevallies. If that wasn’t enough another 2 eagle rays swept past Takuya and his trusty camera. Dive 4 for the day was at Karamulon Point where Mike lead our divers successfully around the yellow-margin triggers and out to the pint where they saw yet more trevally and some grey reef sharks. Finally, it was time for the night dive with John at Karamulon Reef where Yukiko, Tatsuko and Takuya saw basket stars, cuttlefish and a turtle before coming back to the boat for beer and sashimi (caught earlier in the day by the snorkel king Zonnie).
We began Tuesday at Karamulon Reef, this time with a morning dive. Divers were not disappointed as Kevin and Susan spotted a devil ray and an eagle ray! After we had dived on their beautiful reef, we headed to shore to meet Chief Raymond and the villagers of Karamulon. They put on a wonderful show for us with war dances, lullaby dancing and a happy singsong where the whole village joined in. Chief Raymond even spoke to the guests in Japanese, an honour for the first people from their country to visit Karamulon. Our generous guests had collected and carried with them all the way from Japan over 20kg of school supplies and books which the village were overjoyed to receive. Origato!!! Next, we headed around to Bat Cave for our second dive where Mike showed Yujiro and Yukio some pygmy seahorses and Tatsuko and Misako found even more trevally!! No bats in the cave today, but there were some friendly batfish hanging around outside. Next up was NE Mane Wall where Takuya’s luck continued as he found another devil ray to photograph, followed by three turtles, much to Yukio’s delight. The night dive was once again Yukiko, Tatsuko and Takua and again they came back smiling after seeing a cute baby cuttlefish and a tricky little octopus out prowling the reef.
Susan and Kevin opted for a slow paced explore of Mane Bay where they found all kinds of little critters including a tiny baby parrotfish and plenty of blind shrimp. Yukiko, Takuya, Misako and Tatsuko opted for Blue Wall, where they loved cruising along and photographing the colourful fish against the brilliant blue background that gives this site its name. Next, we were headed for the world-famous Mirror Pond. No crocs today but there was a scorpionfish, batfish and two grey reef sharks, not to mention the spectacular landscape and seascape of this little piece of perfection. As if that wasn’t amazing enough next up was another world-famous site; Leru Cut. Takuya was snapping away again as usual, and the gang loved the lighting through the famous site and Kevin even spotted a rare subspecies of blue ringed octopus. For the next dive, we went exploring on the new site of South Mane, where a lovely Maori wrasse came to join the exploration. Finally, we headed back to NE Mane for a night dive with Takuya, Tatsuko and Yukiko. Divers were rewarded with basket stars, lobsters and critters galore
The weather was kind and rewarded with flat calm seas all the way to Mary Island, where our divers completed 4 dives varying from Mary’s Bommies (where critter fanatics Susan and Kevin went off hunting for small treasures) to barracuda and Trevally Points where team Japan was chasing the big stuff. Cuttlefish at Mary’s Bommies and schooling trevally at Barracuda – confusing but amazing nonetheless! What a great day of diving for our team. Everything capped off by a silver tip at Trevally Point.
For our final day’s diving, we headed back to the East Russells for two of our fishy finale dives. First up was North Fonagho where 3 turtles swam around happily and even a wahoo, a dog toothed tuna and an eagle ray checked out our guests. Wow! Finally, we headed to staff favourite Fish Market and it lived up to its name with great visibility and fish galore for everyone to remember their time in the Solomons by.
Thanks to all our guest for joining us from all over the world and special congratulations to Fiona on her 100th dive and Tatsuko on her 700th. Great milestones guys – thanks for letting us share in the fun!