PAPUA NEW GUINEA
The waters of Papua New Guinea are home to prolific and diverse marine creatures and corals. Recent marine surveys in Kimbe Bay have recorded over 350 species of reef building corals, and over 900 species of fish. The reefs are a photographer's paradise. Pristine and colorful corals are home to a variety of fish, crustacean and invertebrate life. Many of the reefs have resident schools of barracuda, tuna and jacks. A range of shark species are regularly sighted, including hammerheads and silvertips, particularly at the outer reefs of Fathers and Witu. Visibility ranges from 80 to 150 ft., depending on the season, and water temperatures range between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Weather is tropical, with little seasonal variation.
Most diving is from Star Dancer's spacious dive decks, with easy access via the water level dive platform. Some of the reefs are current washed; without current the spectacular marine life would not be there, however, the wide range of dive sites means that it is not necessary to dive at a site if currents are unmanageable at the time.
Every dive in Papua New Guinea is an exciting new experience, highlighted by encounters with dog tooth tuna, sharks, vast schools of pelagics such as barracuda trevally and others.
Some PNG Dive sites you may visit, depending on planned itineraries:
The Atun - Formerly a tuna fishing vessel, the wreck of the Atun was purposely sunk by the Rabaul Dive Club in 1983. It is situated on a ledge near Rabaul in approximately 70 ft. of water with the profile reaching just 25 ft. below the surface. Divers may see various species of anemone fish as well as Mantis Shrimp, nudibranchs, and swallowtail seahorses or perhaps even a dugong.
Valley of the Fans - This is a reef system of three bommies with sand chutes which start at 30 ft. and covers an area which approximates the size of three tennis courts. It is approx. 100 ft. to the sand. As the name suggests, the valley is a packed gorgonian forest. Leaf Scorpion fish have been spotted on this site as well as turtles, tuna, lionfish, trevally jacks, sharks and blue spotted rays.
Makada Harbor (Two Tanks) - This shallow dive is known for the two military tanks which were dropped here by the fleeing Japanese army under chase by an Australian boat in WWII . It is a great critter hunting area and divers are likely to see nudibranchs, flatworms, lionfish, eels, and a variety of anemone fish.
Cold Reef - Large gorgonian fans are common on this large reef area which starts in approx. 35 ft to a sandy bottom at 100 ft. Many divers see tuna, nudibranchs, garden eels and fusiliers. Strong currents occasionally pick up around this area.
Pork Chops Knob (also called Tommy's Folly) - This large bommie is quite shallow at only 15 ft. to the surface. Divers will surely notice the beautiful sea whips and gorgonians which are abundant here. Sightings of octopus, crocodile fish and barracuda are not uncommon here.
Harry's Knob - This knob is a small bommie with a ridge running down to another bommie where divers have spotted the beautiful and elusive mandarin fish as well as lots of antheas and plenty of small critters. The soft corals and reef fish start in approx. 20 ft. of water and the wall runs very deep from there.
Halfway Reef - This large bommie starts in 20 ft., slopes to 50 ft., then drops off in a deep, vertical wall. It is inhabited by sweetlips, sharks, anemones, barrel sponges, and lots of crinoids and feather stars.
Leslie's Knob - This seamount begins in 20 ft. and slopes vertically into the depths. The top of the bommie is full of healthy hard corals. Divers may discover trevally, barracuda, scorpion fish, cuttlefish as well as schools of colorful anthias.
Jackie's Reef - A long sloping ridge stretches away from this seamount in 50 to 80 ft. This is an excellent spot for finding nudibranchs, twin spot lionfish, scorpion fish, turtles and cuttlefish.
Alice's Magnificent Mound - This seamount tops off at 40 ft. and is often swept with current. The reef covers a large area on top the size of approx. 4 tennis courts. Lots of anemone, fans and sea whips dot the top of the bommie. Humphead wrasse, and leaf scorpion fish are seen here.
Killibob's Knob - KillibobÕs consists of three connected bommies with the shallowest at 30 ft., then 45 ft., then 80 ft. This site is famous for whitetip and silvertip sharks. Moray eels, porcelain crabs, tuna, barracuda and trevally jacks are common. The reef features hard corals and leather corals.
The Arch - A beautiful arch has formed on a bommie in 85 ft. which is connected to a larger and shallower bommie. Divers swim from the mooring line down to the wall at 30 ft., then follow the lead line over to the arch. Schooling barracuda, bumphead parrotfish, brown leaf scorpion fish, tuna, sharks and trevally are seen here. Gorgonians and sea whips dot the reef.
DuDu Rock - This site sits inside an extinct volcano which has filled in with water. An excellent night dive, the reef starts just a few feet below the surface of the water and drops off dramatically. Spanish Dancers may often be seen as well as lionfish, scorpion fish, nudibranchs and feather mouth sea cucumbers.
Krackafat Reef - Located just off of Lama Island, this bommie reaches 45 ft. below the surface. It hosts schools of trevally and barracuda. Black coral is seen in several varieties. Lionfish and turtles are common (as well as the stinging coralamorphs).
Inglis Shoal - This site inside of Kimbe Bay which starts at 40 ft. and covers an area roughly the size of three tennis courts is covered with plate corals. Divers will commonly see batfish, moray eels, stonefish, turtles, trevally and barracuda.
Restorf Island - A very shallow reef surrounds this small island which features some special marine life. ItÕs most shallow area is inhabited by brown sea horses. Aggressive triton triggerfish protect the sandy area in front of the wall. A forest of huge gorgonian fans is discovered to the far right of the site and a blue ribbon eel is sometimes spotted beyond that. Just about everything macro can be found here.
South Emma Reef - This is a bommie connected to another nearby reef by a ridge at approx. 110 ft. The top of the bommie is 30 ft. below the surface and an interesting swim-through formation is seen at 105 ft. Big Barrel sponges, nudibranchs, shrimp, clown triggerfish, batfish, tuna, trevally can all be seen on this reef.
STAR DANCER - THE VESSEL