Scuttling the Doilon

Posted in At Sea, Under the Sea on August 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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In 1994, after a hapless life along the north coast, the ageing cargo vessel Doilon  met destiny noisily. Many Madang residents made the short passage to Kranket Island to view the spectacle. As the blasting experts set charges in her engine room, a flotilla of little boats bobbed around her and then scurried away like water striders as dire warnings were shouted across the water. The countdown proceeded: Five, four, three, two, one . . . ka-BOOM! Brilliant towers of water on either side of her stern gushed to four or five times the height of her bridge. Within thirty seconds, she disappeared beneath the blue waters as the announcement of her passing still echoed off the mountains. Among the spectators, we divers felt particularly privileged to be present at a rebirth that would mark the beginning of a new relationship for the old lady. No longer would she roam the sea. She would now be nurtured by it. Her transformation into a splendid garden would be observed by her former masters:

The Doilon being scuttled - 1994 - Kranket Island, Madang, Papua New Guinea

That was the opening paragraph for an article titled The Reincarnation of the Doilon  that I wrote for Niugini Blue magazine.  I won’t bore you with the rest of the text, but I will show you some of the images from the article.

First, I have to tell you a funny story. My old dive buddy Ian Dosser and I went out to check how the marine life was getting along on the fairly young wreck. I was down near the bottom of the hull. I looked around and did not see Ian. Then I looked up. What I saw is in the inset at the upper left of this image:

My dive buddy Ian Dosser shown up in the corner meeting the Giant Grouper

That’s Ian just as he turned around and saw the massive Giant Grouper about a metre away from him. I watched a huge glob of bubbles emit from Ian, but he didn’t back away (he’s a tough copper, you don’t want to mess around with him).  Still, the huge fish must have outweighed him at least five to one. You can imagine that we toasted that big grouper with a few cold ones.

Here is a composite image of the location of the wreck:

The location of the Doilon wreck

And here is a side-scanning sonar image that I got from Faded Glory  with my Humminbird sonar:

A side-scanning sonar image captured from Faded Glory of the Doilon wreck

There is a huge array of marine life growing on the Doilon.  It has only been down about fifteen years, but everything grows very rapidly in these very warm, rich waters. It’s often like swimming in a tepid bowl of soup. The visibility is not usually terrific, but there is plenty to see. Here is some winch equipment near the bow:

Winch gear near the bow of the Doilon

The Doilon is a favourite night dive. It lies in fairly protected water and is easy to find. At night, it is crawling with exotic critters seldom seen in the daytime. Here is a Leopard Cowrie on the prowl with its mantle extended over its shell:

Cowrie shell with mantle exposed shot on a night dive on the Doilon

And here are two Chromodoris  nudibranchs doing the tango:

A couple of Chromodoris species nudibranchs found on a night dive on the Doilon

If you dive the Doilon,  please remember to go around to Kranket lagoon and find Thomas to grease his palm. The Krankets get cranky if you don’t pay them. You might find yourself dodging stones.

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Little Surfers and the Butterfly Done Right

Posted in At Sea, Guest Shots, Mixed Nuts on August 24th, 2009 by MadDog
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Since I turned over my spare Olympus SP-590UZ, which I purchased by mistake (always double-check your quantities) from to my friend, Trevor Hattersley, he’s obviously been practising. I also suspect that he may have actually read the manual, which, to my knowledge, would be an all-time first for him. Anyway, this morning this showed up in my email:

A butterfly feeding on a hibiscus by Trevor Hattersley

You may remember, from a few days ago, my feeble attempts to magically transform some horribly botched butterfly shots into “art”. I don’t think that I fooled anyone but myself. The true irony of all this is it is the exact same butterfly! Trevor had pointed it out to me. He had the Olympus with him and I had mine, which was identical. What I demand to know is HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? It’s downright embarrassing.

Okay, on to something that distresses me less.

It’s still a bit breezy here in our belated dry season. The kids were surfing along Coronation Drive again today. I stopped for a few minutes and got some better shots than I did the other day. Have a look at these little guys zooming in on those little pieces of plywood. They were getting nice long runs too. Also check how shallow the water is:

Kids surfing along Coronation Drive

Where ever there are surfers, there will be surfer girls. Madang is no exception. These young ladies have found themselves a beautiful perch right in the middle of the action:

Surfer girls about to get wet

Observing the wave train coming in, I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more until . . . Yes, the inevitable big one came along and gave them a good soaking. I haven’t heard such giggling since high school:

Surfer girls getting very wet

What fun! The shot isn’t perfect; I don’t know what went wrong. But sometimes when the technology (or the operator) fails, the result is still quite pleasing.

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Nudibranchs, Solitary Coral and Whatnot

Posted in Under the Sea on August 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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Oh, it’s Sunday morning and here I am at the office posting because Telikom can’t manage a telephone line four kilometres from the exchange that will pass a data signal. They just keep feeding me the same old lies and empty promises.

I went diving on the big reef just west of Kranket Island yesterday. I didn’t see anything exciting. One wouldn’t expect much inside the barrier reef, but it was too rough outside to anchor. The swell was running about a metre with white horses everywhere.

I do like this shot of a few Humbugs (the black and white fish) and some very pretty cyan coloured fish which I’m far too lazy to look up in my book this morning:

Little cyan fishes

There was an exceptionally brave Reef Lizardfish who allowed me much closer that can usually get. I don’t know how many time’s I’ve tripped the shutter on one of these and got only a puff of dust in the frame for my trouble:

A Reef Lizardfish

Nudibranchs were scarce, but I did manage to find a couple of them. This black variety is presents a genuine challenge to get a good exposure:


The contrast between the black and white is greater than most cameras can handle. It takes some careful fiddling with Photoshop to get it right.

This was, by far, the best shot of the day:


I’m getting too lazy to look up the taxonomic names of these. That’s a bad sign. I need someone to whip me into shape and get me moving again.

This, believe it or not, is an oyster:


Like giant clams, they have light-sensing organs around the edges of the mantle. If you move your hand over it, it will close up and eject a puff of water strong enough to feel it on your hand.

Hmm . . . I got to the end of the post and nearly for the the Solitary Coral and Whatnot part.  At Kranket Lagoon, I wondered how it would be if I took a picture of nothing. Well, not nothing, exactly, just pointing my camera down at the bottom and snapping whatever was there. It turned out to be much more interesting than I thought it would be:

Solitary coral and whatnot

This is a typical bottom in a coral rich area. The predominant shapes are disk-like solitary corals, or mushroom corals, as they are called by some. They are called solitary because they do not attach to anything.

I often see these flipped over upside-down. The coral will die in this position, because it needs the sun’s energy to fuel the algae that live symbiotically with it and provide part of its food. I’m not sure how that they get flipped over. I suppose that some kinds of fish might feed by flipping things over to see if there is anything tasty underneath. I’ve certainly seen Triggerfish do this. Whenever I see a mushroom coral upside down, I turn it back over right-side up, so that it can carry on with its solitary life.

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Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on August 22nd, 2009 by MadDog
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If you Google define: hodgepodge one of the definitions that you’ll find is “a motley assortment of things”. That’s what you’re getting today. By the way, I’ve found that a lot of people don’t know that you can play with Google in that way. If you start your Google search with “define:” (without the quotes) and follow it with a word, it’s the quickest way to get a definition of the word. There will always be a selection of definitions from several sources. Here is a link to a Google page containing many special search features.

Enough of that – on with the hodgepodge.

We had another of those clear-sky sunrises this morning. It was distinctly unexciting. There were only a few strange, wave-like clouds in the north-west:

Ho-hum sunrise

If I remember my meteorology rightly from my piloting days, these high-altitude wavy clouds indicate huge turbulence. I wouldn’t want to fly through that.

I did manage to get another nice shot at my neighbour’s haus win. As with the last one like this, you can see the Flying Foxes over Madang Town:

Flying Fox Sunrise

They come in from the bush every morning by the thousands. It’s easy to hear their screeching across the harbour.

I haven’t been diving much lately. I’m suffering through a severe shortage of dive buddies. I don’t know how I’m going to fix that. If I don’t come up with some new divers soon, the Saturday morning dive will be a thing of the past. A couple of weeks ago I got this shot of the “Ice Cream Cone” coral in Kranket lagoon:Ice Cream Cone Coral at Kranket Island

And this Sailor’s Eyeball, the largest single-celled organism on the planet. This one was about the size of a golf ball. The entire organism is a single algae cell:

Sailor's Eyeball - the largest single-celled organism in the planet

Yesterday, I found this beautiful purple anemone on the big reef just west of Kranket Island:

A beautiful purple anemone

There was a bit of surge on top of the reef. The tentacles were waving like Medusa’s hair.

Speaking of surge, we’ve had some very rough seas lately as our belated dry season seems to finally have arrived just about in time for it to be over. Over on Coronation Drive, some boys were surfing on the waves:

Kids surfing on Coronation Drive

They were getting excellent runs on little rectangles of plywood. Some boys were getting runs of nearly a hundred metres.

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Oddball Sunrises

Posted in Mixed Nuts on August 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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This morning, deciding that I need a little more adventure in my life (one can never walk too close to the edge – short of falling over, that is), I decided to turn an ordinary sunrise into something possibly a little more interesting.

But first, I want to show you a lovely shot that Lori Witham, our Administrator of Publications, got this morning. It’s been blustery here for a couple of days. That whips up the sea along the coast and makes towering waves where the ocean crashes into the steep cliffs at the shoreline. One of the best spots to view this is near the end of the golf course on Coronation Drive close to the Coastwatchers Monument. And that is exactly where Lori went this morning to catch this very nice shot:

The Coastwatchers Monument by Lori Witham

Thanks, Lori, for letting me put that up for our readers to appreciate. If the shot looks a little fuzzy, that’s not because Lori doesn’t know her way around a camera. The air is full of salt water spray! You may have seen these other posts showing the Coastwatchers Monument here, here, and here.

Now, getting on to the very ordinary sunrise, here it is:

Ordinary Sunrise

It didn’t look even that good when I staggered out onto my veranda this morning. There was a bit of colour, but what caught my eye was the strong lights on top of a ship behind the main wharf across the harbour. The wind was blowing the leaves of my weeping willow tree. I took a shot through the leaves with a fairly long zoom. The slow shutter speed makes a nice motion blur on the leaves while leaving some of the foreground focused and giving a pleasant blurriness to the background. The shot came out much better than I expected. A nice start for the day:

Willow Sunrise

Flying Foxes were returning from their nightly feast in the bush to their roosts in the trees around Madang Town. I caught this lonely one just as he was flying overhead:

Coconut and Flying Fox Sunrise

I wish that I could have gotten him a little bigger, but I very much enjoy shots such as this one with not too much information. For me, less is more. The negative space of the sky converges with the harsh edges of the coconut tree to focus attention on the tiny dot of the Flying Fox. It’s a twist on the Rule of Thirds. The negative space occupies the Rule of Thirds spaces and the subject is smack in the middle of the frame.

Here’s another extremely simple image that tells a nice little story. You might need to click to enlarge to see the Flying Foxes scattered across the sunrise like pepper on a slice of mango:

Flying Fox Sunrise

As the sun crept up higher, it became more difficult to find something worth shooting. The primary colours of the sky were washing out to an uninteresting bluish grey and nothing else was going on. I walked over to my neighbour’s little haus win  and sat on the ground to get this shot:

Haus Win Sunrise

Then I sat there a while longer and wondered if there was any way that the day could get any better.

We’ll see.

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Put a Little Chili on My Bees and Grasshoppers, Please

Posted in My Garden on August 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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I got up late this morning. By the time I was outside with my Canon G9 in my garden the sun was blazing horizontally across the flora and fauna that make up our little private jungle.

I always check out my chilies each morning. They are a very small variety, only about two or three centimetres long. They are very sweet and not too hot, just right for chili chicken and several other dishes that require the flavour, but not too much heat – at least that’s the way I like it (uh-Huh, uh-Huh). This little chili was casting a brave shadow on the leaf of a Bird of Paradise plant:

A chili in the morning sun

One of my favourite posts on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi is an old short one about chilies. I’m not sure where my head was that morning, but I’d sure like to get back in that place.

Another popular denizen of my jungle is the Tickle Me Plant. Its leaves fold up and hide at the slightest touch, and its blossoms would please any high-school cheerleader into a giggle:

Tickle Me flower (Sensitive Plant)

They’re a bit small for pom-poms, being only about 2 cm high. The branches are thick with thorns too, so I have to watch where I’m stepping.

As I was walking around our central garden in the middle of the yard, I caught a grasshopper in the open on a leaf. As soon as he saw me, he ducked behind the leaf to hide from me. Little did he suspect that I an an old Cherokee stalker from way back. Little escapes my attention or the merciless eye of my camera. Whistling nonchalantly, I eased down on my bum and surreptitiously snaked my arm around behind some foliage to snap this shot:

Grasshopper "hiding" from me

The grasshopper is lit only by the light shining through the leaf. I don’t think that it ever noticed the camera. Sneakiness is a valuable attribute for a nature photographer.

Ah, yes, the bees, the bees – the main topic of today’s nonsense.

Well, as usual, as soon as the sun hits these strange little whitish hibiscus blooms they open up. The blossoms last for several days and close up tightly each night. When they open in the morning, the bees are there to greet them and go mining for nectar and pollen.

It’s devilishly difficult to shoot them. They buzz all around me as I sit there on the grass. I have about a half of a second to catch one entering a flower. Since the G9 has about a half-second lag between punching the shutter button and actually capturing the image, it is strictly a crap shoot whether you will get the bee or not. I took about fifty exposures this morning to get these three.

Here is a bee approaching the hibiscus flower which has just opened:

A bee approaching a hibiscus flower

This bee has landed and is on his way down to the pollen mine:

A bee mining nectar and pollen from a hibiscus flower

This one has collected all that was available and is leaving the flower:

A bee leaving a hibiscus flower

Though is was exasperating at moments, I had a lot of fun trying to get good shots of the bees feeding. You can clearly see the orange globs of pollen on their hind legs. The shots turned out considerably better than I had hoped.

All in all, a good time in the garden to put me in the right mind to tackle:

The domain name “PBTPNG” might be a NetBIOS domain name.  If this is the case, verify that the domain name is properly registered with WINS.
If you are certain that the name is not a NetBIOS domain name, then the following information can help you troubleshoot your DNS configuration.
The following error occurred when DNS was queried for the service location (SRV) resource record used to locate an Active Directory Domain Controller (AD DC) for domain “PBTPNG”:
The error was: “DNS name does not exist.”
(error code 0x0000232B RCODE_NAME_ERROR)
The query was for the SRV record for _ldap._tcp.dc._msdcs.PBTPNG
Common causes of this error include the following:
– The DNS SRV records required to locate a AD DC for the domain are not registered in DNS. These records are registered with a DNS server automatically when a AD DC is added to a domain. They are updated by the AD DC at set intervals. This computer is configured to use DNS servers with the following IP addresses:
– One or more of the following zones do not include delegation to its child zone:
. (the root zone)

Well, I know that something is awry with DNS on my two new Domain Controllers that I built. But what? I don’t want a lecture. I want a fix! Hopefully, something that I can actually understand well enough to accomplish.

Wish me luck. Anybody know where I can get a job digging ditches?

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A Variety Pack

Posted in Mixed Nuts on August 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m covered up at work today and also dealing with family matters having to do with my father’s recent passing, so I’m simply going to throw a random bunch of images from the last week at you and let this post sink or swim on its own.

I’ve shown you before these weird upside down flowers that grow beside my veranda. Here is the earlier stage just after the blossom opens:

Strange upside-down flower - Jan Messersmith

As you can see the naughty female bits are all spread out as if they are desperately seeking someone.  The sneaky male gizmo seems to be pointed in the wrong direction entirely. I wonder how this thing manages to reproduce?

In this image, you can see that the male bit has turned deep red (possibly because it’s very tired from its wanderings), the petals have also gone deep red, and the egg case at the bottom is growing. I guess something must have worked:

Strange upside-down flower at a more mature phase

I think that this is some kind of hibiscus that hangs upside down. I’m too lazy to look these up and quite a few readers pipe in with the names of the flowers anyway to save me the bother:

Some kind of red hibiscus that hangs upside down

Trevor Hattersley just got a couple of new beaut Suzuki 140s on the back of Lying Dog,  his 24 Ft Bertram. Here they are shoving us briskly up through Tab Anchorage:

Trevor's new Suzukies doing their stuff

Here’s another peek at one of the Suzukies with Kar Kar Island in the distance:

Trevor's new Suzukies push us away from Kar Kar Island

Up at Blueblood last Sunday, I got this nice shot of our old mate, Bill Hughes out in the water looking extremely happy:

Our old buddy Bill Hughes
And, here is a five frame panorama of the little lagoon at Blueblood:

A Blueblood Panorama

Em tasol.  (That’s all, in Tok Pisin)

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