Bomber Beauties

Posted in Under the Sea on May 9th, 2010 by MadDog
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Wehn we arrived near Wongat Island  on Saturday morning to dive The Green Dragon, an American B-25 Mitchell bomber which was shot down by Japanese gunners during WWII the sun was bright and the sea was pancake flat. It looked as if we were going to get one of those “Paradise Days”. We weren’t wrong.

After a string of rainy Saturdays, It was quite pleasant to have an entire day of sunshine. When we arrived at The Green Dragon,  lying on the reef at about twenty metres, I immediately began photographing the beautiful scenery, including Genevieve, who peered inside the fuselage through one of the waist gun ports as I photographed her from the opposite side:

This is a favourite gimmick at the bomber. It offers the opportunity to frame a model in an interesting and easy to compose setting. Another favourite is “sitting in the cockpit” which you will see tomorrow.

Here is one of the best shots that I’ve gotten of the dorsal twin 50 calibre machine guns of the B-25. Japanese gunners had to brave these two death-dealers when attacking from above. The one thing which was certain is that the warrior inside this turret was just as determined to live through the experience as the attacker. You can clearly see the devastation to the turret caused by the anti-aircraft fire which downed the war bird. It’s a sombre experience to view this:The whole experience of diving The Green Dragon  is simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. The most common remarks which I hear from first-time divers are those of reflection. One can’t take in the scene without thinking of the circumstances which created this amazing dive site. It is one of the best preserved WWII aircraft left in Papua New Guinean waters.

Inside the fuselage, under an ammunition box, I found these beautiful tubeworms:I can’t identify the species, but no matter, the are lovely just the same.

Another familiar creature, a Pipefish, similarly escapes by ability to identy the species. It is one which I have not seen before:The spots on this one are very nice and worth clicking to see the detail.

The resident Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita)  was in its burrow under starboard wing of The Green Dragon:

I think that this might be the best shot of a Ribbon Eel which I’ve ever snapped. You can see the juvenile colouration here and a couple of more adults here and here.

Stay tuned for more irrelevant nonsense tomorrow. I’m a wellspring of idle amusement.

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Growing New Legs

Posted in Under the Sea on May 8th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today we went up to Wongat Island to do The Green Dragon B-25 Mitchell bomber and The Henry Leith. The bomber went fine. I got some nice shots which I’ll be showing soon. However, when we went to do The Henry Leith, I brilliantly decided to anchor the boat at the beach so that the ladies could snorkel while Hendrick and I did the wreck. Than meant that I we had to dive off of the beach and I had to remember where the wreck was. I’ve done it many times before, but years ago.

Of course, I couldn’t find it. It’s only twenty metres down, but the water was too dirty so see more than about ten. The bottom where the wreck lies is at twenty metres, so we followed that contour in the area where I thought it was. After fifteen minutes, we gave up and came up to the shallow reef to shoot some pictures. This was my second dive on a big 80 tank. I ended up with 110 minutes. I was using my gills most of the time.

This is a cute little starfish missing only one leg. That’s pretty good by small starfish standards. This one is about five or six centimetres across. I’d say that about half of the starfish that I see are missing at least one leg:I think that it’s a Linckia multifora, but I’m not sure. It doesn’t look quite right.

However, what happens to the leg, if the fish which bit it off doesn’t like the taste? Well, we simply grow a whole new starfish from the leg. Some people call them arms, I call them legs, since we don’t walk on our arms, do we? Here on this severed Linckia multifora leg, you can see four tiny new legs growing out of the severed end:This is a pretty cute trick. Many organisms can do this. Medical researchers are busting their guts trying to find a way to mimic this behaviour in humans. The reason is obvious. Whoever solves the problem first will become the richest person on the planet.

Here is an absolutely lovely young Electric Swallowtail nudibranch (Chelidonura electra): Older specimens develop a lemon yellow edge around the edges.

This particularly nice Divericate Tree Coral (Dendronephthya roxasia) caught my eye:It’t quite lovely and I certainly appreciated the pleasure of seeing it.

However, this is my choice of the day for the shot which pleases me most:The little Glass Shrimp (Periclimenes holthuisi) is about as big as your thumbnail. He has several buddies swimming around him.

They are a nightmare to photograph. They are very small and don’t like the camera up close. They never stop moving, hoping around from place to place and waving their little pincers. Flash photography is useless; you have to use available light. Finally, they are nearly invisible in the first place! You can not see their bodies, only the spots.

It’s like playing “connect the dots”.

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