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February 2021

23 Years Later – Triton Bay through the eyes of Joerg Meier

By |2021-02-16T10:28:16+00:00February 15th, 2021|Activities, Diving, Guests, Resort, UW Photos|

After some 23 years since first stepping foot in Triton Bay, Joerg Meier returned this time with family and friends to revisit some of his old haunts and relive the beauty above and below the waves… this is his story….

” None of us can claim 2020 turned out as planned. And with the first month of 2021 gone, it looks like we face another challenging year ahead. Most travel plans in 2020 – including team-ups with German family and friends – did not work out. The positive aspect of negative things was a longer than usual retreat to the remoteness and biodiversity of West Papua. The journey started with two weeks in Batbitim, a tiny island in southern Raja Ampat and Misool Eco Resort’s home. I’m privileged to be a shareholder since 2007. It then continued to Triton Bay, east of Kaimana, in the south eastern part of West Papua’s Bird’s Head’. I first encountered the astonishing beauty and majesty of Triton Bay 23 years ago, in early 1998. Back then, I ventured into the unknown with little more information than this place with its stunning landscapes was supposed to be one of the last untouched paradises in Indonesia’s vast archipelago. There was an interim encounter with Triton Bay in 2009 – cruising on a liveaboard – but only now I had the opportunity of revisiting some of those sites I first discovered in 1998. Ending 2020 observing a stunning sunset over Kalig Island, starting 2021 with a storm approaching Batbitim’s North Bay, to then continue to Triton Bay Divers revisiting majestic Triton Bay, this time with my little family, was the best possible way to end gloomy 2020 and welcome 2021 in good spirits. Some 55 dives later, topped with lagoon and jungle excursions, now back in Jakarta, we already miss that remoteness, the diving, and being exposed to the sounds of nature. Belated Happy New Year 2021 to all of you – stay healthy, safe and sane! ”

From Joerg’s images below, I think we can all agree Triton Bay is beautiful above and below the waves!

Below the waves…..

Name your very own Whaleshark

By |2021-02-06T11:46:18+00:00February 6th, 2021|Conservation, Diving|

To all Divers or Snorkelers that have visited West Papua and particularly Triton Bay.  This could be your chance to get a Whaleshark named after you…..

Triton Bay Divers is working closely with Conservation International (CI) to monitor the whaleshark population in our area and the rest of West Papua. Prior to our guests identifying 8 new whalesharks, CI had recorded 197 different individuals by Mid 2020 in this region. We ask for your help in trying to identify more whalesharks from the area. Please see Mark Erdmann’s (Vice President, Asia Pacific Marine Programs, Conservation International) message below. Also please feel free to post the image of your whaleshark to Facebook or Instagram and tag us, for all to see. Thanks so much…

Greetings, and allow me to briefly introduce myself. My name is Mark Erdmann, and I’m a coral reef ecologist and the head of Conservation International’s Asia Pacific marine programs. I’m writing to you all to encourage you to consider submitting any images you may have taken of whale sharks during your time in Triton Bay or at Triton Bay Divers. As you may be aware, every individual whale shark has its own unique pattern of spots and swirls, much like the fingerprints of humans. As scientists and conservationists, we are interested in understanding both the overall population size of whale sharks in Kaimana and West Papua, as well as their movements and growth over time – and we can use these individual identification patterns to construct photo ID databases that allow us to do just that. We began collecting data on Triton Bay’s whale sharks in 2015, and since that time we’ve compiled identification photos of 37 different individuals ranging in size from 2m to 8.1m. Interestingly only 3 of these individuals were females – the rest were all juvenile males, which is typical of many whale shark aggregations worldwide. For the whole of West Papua, we now have 197 individuals in our database (12 females, the rest males), with most of these from Cendrawasih Bay, but also 8 from Raja Ampat.

In addition to maintaining our own detailed database of West Papua whale sharks, we also submit all images to the “Wildbook for Whale Sharks” global database, which allows us to check if any of our sharks have been previously seen elsewhere. Of the 197 individuals in our West Papua database, three of them have also been recorded from Gorontalo (Sulawesi Island in central Indonesia), and one of them, “Hula” – a 7.4m male, was actually recorded 3 times at Ningaloo, Western Australia in 2010 – and since that time has been recorded 5 times in Triton Bay between 2018-2019. This resighting (spanning a decade) gives you an idea of the power of maintaining these photo ID databases – we can monitor growth and movement over that entire 10 year period.

We have also satellite tagged 8 of the whale sharks from Triton Bay, which has allowed us to keep track of their movements in high resolution over the course of a roughly two-year period of battery life of the tag. Our 8 tagged sharks in Triton Bay have shown some amazing movements – Hula, for instance (the shark that was first spotted in Ningaloo), covered nearly 8000km in his first 14 months’ of tagging – swimming from Triton Bay down into the Arafura Sea, tracing the outer Banda Arc south of Timor-Leste and into Australian waters, and then back to Triton Bay! Most of the whale sharks we’ve tagged in Triton Bay have show significant seasonal migrations, leaving Triton Bay about the time the SE Monsoon starts to blow in May, and then returning to Triton once things calm down again in October/November. During the big wave season from May-September, they often head into the Arafura Sea, into Australian waters, or some go directly west to Wakatobi or Sulawesi. But they always return to Triton! During their trips away from Triton, we’ve had them dive as deep as 1880m!!

We’d like to ask your help to allow us to further expand our knowledge of Triton Bay’s whalesharks by submitting any photos you may have of whale sharks from your time at Triton Bay. Optimally, we are looking for images of the left side of the animal (the main photo ID “thumbprint” is left side, just behind gills and back to about the dorsal fin – see photo attached below), but we can handle right side shots, as well as underside shots that might tell us the sex of your shark, and video works as well. We don’t need super high resolution images, but better that they are at least reasonable resolution so we can blow them up and look closely at the spot patterns. You will be credited for any photos you submit, and we will only use them in the photo ID database; you are welcome to put watermarked copyrights on them as well if you like. If the shark you submit is a new one to our database that is not yet named, then you will be given the honour of naming it! Optimally, any photos can be labelled with the date that you took them, and if you happened to see the sex of the shark or estimate its size, we love that information as well – but its not necessary if you don’t know. Images/videos can be sent directly to me (mverdmann@gmail.com), or if they are large feel free to use Dropbox or any other file transfer mechanism.

Thank you very much in advance for your help with our research on Triton Bay’s whalesharks!!

Mark Erdmann, PhD

Vice President, Asia Pacific Marine Programs

Conservation International

Email: mverdmann@gmail.com

Impressions of Triton Bay from one of the first explorers to the region – Burt Jones

By |2021-02-01T07:04:05+00:00February 1st, 2021|Diving|

The Bird’s Head Seascape’s Triton Bay is special. We first went there, with Larry Smith, for the soft corals. Since Triton Bay Divers  opened, however, the entire gamut of subjects have been located; from the tiniest of pygmies to whale sharks, and, just to add a “bit of cream to the topping”, a flasher wrasse encounter like no other! Today I’m sharing wide angle images. I think you will agree Triton Bay is unique. Enjoy

April 2020

October is Macro Month

By |2020-04-25T07:09:49+00:00April 25th, 2020|Diving, UW Photos|

If you love critters then October is the best time to visit.  We believe there are two reasons for this: 1) It is the start of the diving season and the reefs will not have had any divers for at least four months.  Yes, there does seem to be an inverse correlation between the number of divers visiting a site and the number of critters seen.  And 2) the critters seem to enjoy cooler waters.  However, to spot most of these guys you will need to have a guide who really knows the sites.  Dive sites change and a site which was hot one season can be disappointing the next.  October isn’t the best season for wide angle photography, but if you are into macro it is well worth it.

Below are some images taken by amateur nudibranch specialists Sylvia & Joel Meudic, who stayed with us last October.  In two weeks, they photographed over 100 different species of nudibranchs as well as a plethora of pygmy seahorses and other critters such as pipefish, frogfish, crabs and shrimp.  To view their excellent and very comprehensive portfolio of images from Triton Bay, please see this page.

December 2019

Walking Shark & Flasher Wrasse Videos

By |2020-04-03T17:51:27+00:00December 13th, 2019|Diving, Guests, UW Photos|

Here is very rare footage of two of Triton Bay’s most special attractions: the Triton Bay walking shark and the Paracheilinus nursalim flasher wrasse.  The walking shark is also known as an epaulette shark, and this species is endemic to Triton Bay.  Watch how it moves along the ocean floor.  Meanwhile, this particular species of flasher wrasse, though common locally, can only be found in the southern part of the Bird’s Headseascape.  Flasher wrasse are like peacocks of the ocean, as the males, in bright, beautiful colors, put on a show each afternoon to attract the ladies!

Many thanks to Jacinto Castillo for both videos, which were taken when he stayed with us in 2018!

The walking shark can be seen starting at 11:00 minutes into the video.

September 2019

May 2019

Andreas Goldhahn Photos

By |2020-04-06T07:10:46+00:00May 12th, 2019|Diving, Guests, UW Photos|

Andy stayed with us for a few weeks in April 2019 and managed to capture one of the best set of photographs we have ever seen, which he has been so kind to share.

Its important to note that underwater visibility and weather for the aerials during his stay actually wasn’t as good as the pictures seem to indicate – he managed to take advantage of the situation when weather was favorable and he did get quite a few excellent wide angle underwater shots even in what most divers would consider to be “poor” visibility.  It just shows what proper strobe positioning and adequate lighting can accomplish despite apparently poor conditions.

So below are two galleries.  His full collection of pictures taken during his stay with us can be found on his Gallery page.  We hope you enjoy them and thank you once again Andy!

To see more of Andreas’ photos, please click this link for his Instagram.

Underwater

 

Aerials and Panoramas

September 2018

Summer 2018

By |2020-04-03T18:03:30+00:00September 8th, 2018|Diving, Resort, UW Photos|

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!

April 2017

Tagging Whale Sharks

By |2019-01-12T17:26:08+00:00April 12th, 2017|Conservation, Diving, Guests, UW Photos|

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:

http://blog.conservation.org/tag/whale-sharks/

August 2016

Triton Bay Divers in Nereus

By |2019-01-12T17:27:37+00:00August 15th, 2016|Diving, Guests, Resort, UW Photos|

Red School - HaiderTriton 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.

Nereus_3-2016_Manta_10-11 (3)

Triton