Papua New Guinea

This September I went to Papua New Guinea for the first time, diving the tropical Coral Sea and communing with the cuttlefish (I LOVE cephalopods). I won a week on the M/V Telita in last year's NCUPS (Northern California Underwater Photographic Society) photo contest, and decided to extend my trip to ten days, since just getting there would take 2 days. Papua New Guinea, off the northeast coast of Australia, is the most remote place I've ever been. The Telita's home base is in Alotau, Milne Bay province (the southeast portion of Papua New Guinea) and the surrounding islands. The Milne Bay area is known for "muck" diving, dives in shallow sandy or silty beach areas that have an amazing variety of very unusual creatures. It was a wonderful place for macro photography, so I shot a lot of closeup photos, but I also shot wide angle at times. The water was a comfortable 26 ° C (79 ° F) the whole time so I wore a 3 mm wetsuit and no hood or gloves. The visibility was the best I've ever seen, 50 - 100+ feet most of the time. I was overwhelmed by the number and variety of fish and invertebrates on every dive -- it was impossible to remember or identify everything I'd seen. I saw my first underwater plane wreck, first toadfish and ghost pipefish, and took my first photos of clownfish. (Yes, I found Nemo too.) I got seasick, broke a fin, flooded a strobe, and had an amazing time. I can't wait to go back.
the photos:
All images © 2003 Julia Coburn