The Henry Leith – A Ghost Ship

Posted in Under the Sea on November 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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On Saturday, we motored up to Wongat Island  in our dive boat, Faded Glory.  There are two world-class dives there within a couple of hundred metres of each other. One is the B-25 Mitchell bomber, The Green Dragon.  The other is a scuttled cargo vessel, The Henry Leith.  Bob Halstead bought the wreck for K1.00 and sank it as a diving attraction. It’s beautifully preserved. I believe that a clever student could probably work up a Doctoral thesis in Marine Biology without ever leaving the thirty-four metre length of this beautiful ghost ship.

I have been stalking a critter for a good specimen shot for about ten years. It is very elusive and quite rare. Near Madang, The Henry Leith  is the only place that I can guarantee  that you might  see one. For now, I’ll call it the “Mystery Fish.” That’s because I want to see if anybody is paying attention. The first person to leave a comment with the correct common and taxonomic name of this fish, based only on this partial view, wins a prize. The prize is that you get to be first:

Mystery Fish - Leave a comment if you know what it is.Yes, I’m cheap. What did you expect, a Rolex?

In the next couple of days, I’ll be showing you the shots that I’ve been trying to get for over ten years.

Here’s another difficult fish to photograph. It’s commonly known as a Trumpet Fish, but you can call it Aulostomus chinensis  if you like:Trumpetfish (Aulostomus chinensis)They constantly try to hide from you in very curious ways. They assume odd positions. I was upside down with salt water gushing into my sinus cavities, nearly dying to sneeze, when I got this shot. UW photographers have to take risks for their prizes. You can see the railing of The Henry Leith  upside down at an odd angle. Possibly predators have difficulty matching memory-stored food images up with objects in the water if they are in unexpected configurations. That’s my utterly unscientific guess.

This is a lovely, snowflaky, starry coral which I am pretty sure is the Pipe Organ Coral (Tubipora musica). For once the taxonomic name makes sense, if you remember your High School Latin (yes, I am  that old):Pipe Organ Coral (Tubipora musica) [uncertain]I said that I’m pretty sure about the identification. There are quite a few corals that have a similar appearance. I forgot to look at the base of this one, so I’m thinking it may possibly be some Anthelia  species, which are very variable.

And now, would you care to venture a guess as to what this is? I bet that most people would be able to identify this as the eyes of a stingray which is hiding just beneath the sand.  This is why they are troublesome to divers. You often cannot see it easily until you have already frightened it and it escapes. That’s when the stinger is most likely to get you.Blue-Spotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii)As I approached this one he began to rise up slowly in preparation for flight:Blue-Spotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii)A second after this shot, there was nothing left in the camera frame but swirling sand.

SITE NOTES: I’m hoping that you will find that Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  is loading much faster. I’ve reduced the eqo-stroking clutter in the side bar – the locations of our visitors and a visitor live feed. I’ve also dumped a few plugins that made calls to third-party sites and slowed things down. There are now seven pages on HOME instead of fifteen. I hope that this improves the experience for everyone. I’m also not bothering to link to every phrase or word on which I have posted before. I know that I’m supposed to do that to keep people from drifting off to some other site. However, for dedicated readers wanting to see what else I’ve written before on a given subject, use the Search box, or click on the title of the post that you want to read and you will get a “single” page with that post and up to seven related posts listed beneath. Remember also that you can “Click a Tag” in the sidebar to see all posts to which I have added that tag.

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