Underwater Tribe talks to Dr. Erdmann of Conservation International about his almost 3 decades working in marine conservation in Indonesia and the South Pacific. From the beginning of his career, to the explosive growth of tourism in Raja Ampat, to his current projects, the podcast examines the issues that conservationists face. This is a must watch for those who wish to dig deeper and learn more about the development of marine tourism in West Papua.
The off-season in Triton Bay usually runs around June to late Sept. Water temperature drops and the wind and waves pick up, making boat travel uncomfortable at best and sometimes even dangerous. We usually focus on renovations and improvements to the resort at this time. A few years ago we added new guest rooms, while last season saw new rooms for staff. The major project this past summer was changing the roofs on all the guest rooms and restaurant to a more durable and long lasting type of wood shingle. We even managed a few dives – the water might be cold for divers but the fish and corals don’t seem to mind!
Paolo stayed with us again in Dec 2017 and has once again so generously donated his photos. These are some of the very best wide angle pictures we’ve seen of Triton Bay and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
In April 2018, Triton Bay Divers will be hosting Dr. Heike Vester of Ocean Sounds and Dr. Ricardo Tapilatu of the University of Papua. They will be looking at the suitability of conducting scientific research from the resort during the northern (boreal) summer months when we are closed for diving. During their stay, they will each a conduct a talk on their area of expertise.
“Whales in a Changing World – Raja Ampat”
Dr. Heike Vester (Ocean Sounds) will talk about her 3 years research in Raja Ampat and present over 17 species of marine mammals. Whales and dolphins are not well studied in this area and her presentation is one of the first to document the pictures, videos and sounds of most of these elusive and beautiful species. Even though the waters of Raja Ampat are well protected, marine mammals face threats and challenges that are man made, from uncontrolled boat traffic, unregulated whale watching, to plastic pollution and signs of climate change. We aim to study marine mammals in order to help maintain and develop better marine protection to ensure respectful and humane interactions between people and marine mammals.
Saving Pacific-travelling sea turtle species (Leatherback and Green) at Bird’s Head Seascape – Papua Barat – Indonesia’. Dr. Ricardo Tapilatu has been to Kaimana many times for his work with Conservation International. Leatherback turtles are critically endangered and West Papua is one of one of their few remaining nesting grounds, while green turtles nest on a small island in the western part of Kaimana Regency. Dr. Tapilatu’s present research projects are focused on developing conservation strategies for optimizing hatchling production from nesting beaches of the Bird’s Head Seascape in Indonesia and beyond, while mitigating the effects of global climate change. His blog can be found by clicking on this link.
If you would like to meet Drs. Vester and Tapilatu and learn more about their research, there are currently two rooms available during the week of April 7~14 when they will be staying for a few days. Please contact us soon at firstname.lastname@example.org as we do not expect these rooms will be available for very long.
Check out Paolo Isgro’s review on Wetpixels forum following his stay with us last year. We are looking forward to seeing more of his amazing photographs after his second stay with us this December. Below are a few of the images showcased in his trip report. Thanks Paolo for sharing.
Here are some of our favorite images from this past season, in no particular order. There are many more pictures that could have been included in this gallery as beauty is subjective and another person could have come up with 12 totally different pictures, but in the end these are the images which we believe show the very best of Triton Bay. We would like to express our tremendous appreciation to the guests who donated these stunning pictures!
In early February, our guests had the opportunity to observe a team from Conservation International (CI) mount a satellite tag on a whale shark. The satellite tags record location, depth, and water temperature, and transmits that data every time the dorsal fin of the shark breaks the surface. This information will allow them to monitor the whale sharks movements over the next two years. According to CI, their program is the only one of its kind in the world. They currently have tagged less than 20 whale sharks in Cenderawasih Bay and only 4 in Triton Bay as of Feb 2017.
Very little is known about whale sharks. CI’s monitoring and ID program here and in Cenderawasih Bay indicate that well over 90% of the 100+ individuals who have been identified so far are young males. They don’t know where the females or the adults are, and it is becoming apparent that Cenderawasih & Triton Bay must be some kind of nursery for young whale sharks. Of the sharks that we have seen ourselves here, most are between 3~9m. Our guests help contribute to the database by providing photos of the area around the shark’s left dorsal fin for identification.
Triton Bay Divers would like to thank Dr. Mark Erdmann, Abraham Sinapar, and the team from CI for the opportunity to observe them in their work. To learn more about CI’s whale shark monitoring program, please check out this link:
If you come to Triton Bay, it won’t take long before you realize the area has some spectacular topography. Visitors have remarked that some places remind them a little of Palau, and a little of Wayag in Raja Ampat. Two of our first guests this season, Markus Roth and Karsten Heinrich, brought along drones and provided us with some stunning aerial photographs. What a way to kick off the season!
From top left: islands in Triton Bay that are probably best experienced from a kayak; the resort built just off the beach and surrounded by the tropical rainforest of Aiduma; Little Komodo with its rich and diverse reef hidden below; a Bryde’s Whale – they have been a common sighting for us in the summer of 2016; Our little bay with the sunset in the distance and the resort barely visable. Thanks for the photos Markus & Karsten!
Triton Bay Divers has recently been featured twice in the Swiss Diving magazine Nereus! For those who read German, please check out the article by Andrea Rothlisberger in the June issue, and by Thomas Haider in the August issue (part 1). Additional photos from Thomas can be found on their website at this link. Photo above by Thomas Haider.
Even before my first visit to Triton Bay, I had known there was a resident population of Bryde’s whales here. But throughout the first few months we never saw them, and I admit I had doubts as to their existence. When I finally saw a water spout (but not the whale itself) I knew the reports were true. Eventually we did see the whales, but it was well into our first season. Sightings are still rare and far between.
Bryde’s Whales (pronounced as “broo-dess”) are baleen whales and are similar in appearance to minke, fin, and sei whales. There are two, maybe three different types of Bryde’s whales; the ones around Kaimana are coastal and are here year round. This particular species prefers warm water – it is the only baleen whale that spends all its time in tropical or sub-tropical water. They feed on anchovies (which are also favored by the whale sharks here!) and krill and grow to a maximum size of around 16m. For more information on this species, please check out this link.
These whales are not easy to approach as they just submerge if the boat gets too close. One August day coming back from Kaimana we saw them breaching from afar. We approached slowly, killed the engines, and waited. The hope was that they would come check us out, and one did, allowing me to get some video. This particular whale was about 10m long judging from the distance between his dorsal fin and his blow hole. There were at least two of them, and most likely more as we saw the whales surface from at least 3 different directions around us. It was such a thrill to see this animal up close and words just can’t come close to describing the feeling.