Misool, The Crown Jewel of Indonesia


I recently spent a few weeks scuba diving in the southern part of Raja Ampat on the tiny island of Batbitim.  At just three and a half kilometers in circumference, this island is not only a stellar diving destination, but it also hosts the luxurious Misool Eco Resort, while maintaining an eco-friendly environment.  I was so impressed with the resort and the conservation work they are doing there that I wanted to share a little bit about it.

The beauty and serenity of the resort itself is apparent as soon as you arrive. The island of Batbitim lies about four hours south by boat from the nearest port. It lies among other uninhabited islands and is about twenty miles from the nearest local village. Each guest enjoys their own cottage on the water, or residence on the beach. You can walk down the stairs from your front patio right in to the water for snorkeling or swimming.

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 Although the diving in this area of Indonesia is astounding, I believe it is the accomplishments of the resort itself that make this destination truly remarkable.  Just ten years ago, this island’s bay was a place where fishermen came to fin sharks.  Because the bay is a black tip reef shark nursery, that included juvenile as well as adult sharks.  Misool bought the island and has since successfully turned it into a marine sanctuary.  In fact, they have lobbied to make the entire location a marine protected area and now protect more than 1200 square kilometers.  This is policed and enforced by the local island population with great success.  The bio-mass has been documented since 2006 and in this particular area, it has a richer density and diversity than anywhere else in Raja Ampat.

A Coral Grouper rests among the iconic soft and hard corals of Raja Ampat

A Coral Grouper rests among the iconic soft and hard corals of Raja Ampat

Another great accomplishment of Misool Eco Resort, is the minimal environmental impact they have.  Everything from the cottages to the furniture are made from materials found on the island, with no trees being cut down to build with.  Fresh water is obtained through desalination, they generate their own electricity, and they recycle the gray water through the roots of a beautiful garden where it is naturally filtered.

All this is accomplished while maintaining the highest level of service and luxury in the industry.  The local islanders work on the island, the food is delicious and plentiful and the guest list is small.  In addition to scuba diving, guests can enjoy snorkeling, Stand Up Paddle boards, kayaking, local excursions and more.

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It is the scuba diving and the photo opportunities that draw visitors from all over the world.  Raja Ampat is known for its beautiful soft corals and colorful fish.

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The image above was taken at a site called Boo Window. There are two swim-throughs close to the surface that look like the eyes of a ghost. One of the “eyes” is partially covered by the gorgonian fan, but you can see why the site got its name. I asked my guide, Marfal, to show me critters such as the Raja Ampat pygmy seahorse which is found only in Southern Raja Ampat. Everything I asked to see, he found without fail.

Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse

Raja Ampat Pygmy Seahorse

I even mused that what I really wanted was a shot of a giant manta hovering above the colorful reef, to which he replied, “Okay.”

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Truly, Misool Eco Resort is one of those fantasy destinations that most people only dream about.  I can tell you that I will be dreaming about it for a long time to come.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me
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Scuba Diving Under the Oil Rigs


A big Thank You to Dive Photo Guide for publishing my article on scuba diving under the oil rigs.  I am truly honored to be featured!  To read the article, click HERE.

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As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Diving in Fish Lake


I have many fond memories of Fish Lake, Utah.  My family has been going there to fish since 1945–Long before I arrived on the scene.  My dad remembers getting up at midnight and driving with his dad and brothers down to Fish Lake and arriving about 5:00 AM, just in time to start fishing.  This tradition continued on into his adulthood, until the 1970’s when my dad’s siblings and their children began making it a yearly occurrence. This is where I came in.  I remember as a child the long drive (probably just a couple of hours) to the lake.  My cousins and I would watch the horizon so that we could be the first to yell “I” when the lake came in to view.

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I was a very curious child, and my favorite thing about Fish Lake was fishing. I would anticipate arriving and taking my pole down to the bridge that spanned the small harbor and fishing with my salmon eggs and hooks for the “chubs” we could catch there.  My favorite fishing, though, was done from the boat, early in the morning with my dad.  We trolled for trout, and I don’t remember a time when we didn’t catch plenty for our dinner for the next several weeks.  I loved to look over the side of the boat at the seaweed that grew along the banks and see if I could see fish, or some other treasure that had fallen overboard.  Once I even went swimming in the lake, though it is only around 60 degrees F.  Family legend has it that the lake is “bottomless.”  However, the depth gauge on our boat puts the lake at around 110 feet deep all the way across.

This year’s trip was the first time I had gone to the lake in several years.  In that time, I have learned to scuba dive.  My new anticipation for this year’s reunion was to scuba dive in Fish Lake and take pictures of what I saw to show to all my relatives who are surely as curious as I am as to what lies beneath the surface of our beloved lake.

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On the first dive, I took my twenty-one-year-old son.  I am a scuba instructor, and I am certifying my son for his Advanced Open Water certification.  He was required to go to a depth of 60 feet.

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On our descent my first reaction was that the visibility was terrible.  I couldn’t see more than 10 feet.  The surface of the lake was 64 degrees F, but when we hit a depth of 35 feet, it dropped dramatically, to 54 degrees.  Brrrr.  The murky bottom finally came in to view and there was nothing to see except mud.  I hurriedly did the skills with my son that he required, and we made a bee-line for the warmer waters above 35 feet.  At this point, we decided to explore the seaweed, which began growing at about 25 feet deep.

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This was one of the more intriguing things about the dive.  The seaweed was full of fish and the visibility was slightly better.  I started to find the treasures left behind by other fishermen;  Fishing rods and reels, stringers, pop gear, lures and some other treasures such as a large metal bowl and lots of antique soda bottles and cans. These were the treasures that I wondered about as a child and was able to verify on my dive.

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At the end of my second dive, I decided to take some images of the lake and the mountain behind it. Although I enjoyed my dives immensely, I probably won’t need to dive in Fish Lake again.  It was fun to see the underside of the lake and solve the mystery of what it looks like down there, but now my curiosity is satisfied.

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As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Monterey Bay, California’s Underwater Paradise


As a California scuba diver, I spend a lot of time in the coastal waters surrounding my home in Southern California.  But every once in a while, I get to explore the California coastal waters in Central California:  Monterey Bay.  The Northern California Underwater Photographic Society (NCUPS), and Backscatter Underwater Photo and Video sponsor a contest in Monterey called the Monterey Shootout.  This is what initially lured me into the colder waters up north.  Last year I attended and won a nice prize to Raja Ampat, Indonesia for my efforts.  This year I won a second place and an honorable mention in my division which earned me some new photography gear.  The contest is expertly managed and the atmosphere is friendly, making the whole experience very pleasurable.

As much as I love participating in the Monterey Shootout, it is not the anticipation of winning a prize that attracts me to Monterey as much as the great diving experience.  This year, the water was unusually blue and calm. There were many creatures and critters to be found and many that I have not seen or photographed before. In addition, I made new friends and sincerely enjoyed the company of old ones.

Top Snail

Top Snail

One of the common critters in Monterey is the beautiful Top Snail.  They can be found all over the kelp and reefs of Monterey.

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The image above is quintessential Monterey:  A beautiful anemone on the reef surrounded by the kelp forest and fish.  This image placed second in the Unrestricted Wide Angle category of the contest in the Intermediate division.

Kelp Crab

Kelp Crab

If you are observant, you might be able to find a kelp crab.  They are camouflaged by the kelp but can be seen skittering away if you get too close.

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In the crooks and crannies shrimp are abundant.  This image received an honorable mention in the Monterey Shootout.

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Did I mention all the beautiful anemones?

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Nudibranchs also abound on the Monterey reefs.  This one is called Dall’s Dendronotis and it is tiny and delicate.

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Decorator crabs and hermit crabs are everywhere.  I loved this one because he made his home inside a beautiful top snail shell.

Diving in Monterey may well become one of my guilty pleasures.  If you take a trip to Central California, be prepared to dive in a drysuit as the water temperatures are in the 50 degrees fahrenheit range.  You can dive by boat or by shore, and enjoy the playful harbor seals, sea lions, and the occasional sea otter as well.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

A Fish is a Fish is a Fish


I have been amused, while looking through images over the past year, at how many fish are called after another animal, or shape, or being!  Some are called by these names because they resemble the thing they are named for, others because they have characteristics similar to those things. See if you can tell why each fish is named after something else:

Batfish

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Scorpion Fish

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Box Fish

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Pipe Fish  (Which are so diverse, I had to narrow it down to just these four)

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Sea Horse  (Which is also a Pipefish)

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Frog Fish  (Another very diverse species)

A tiny frogfish  hunts for a meal

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Clown Fish

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Snake Eel

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Baitfish

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Angel Fish

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So, there you have it.  I could keep going, but don’t wish to become a bore. There are sea lions, butterfly fish, catfish, dog fish, and hog fish, and probably many, many more. Most of these animals are named for the thing they resemble, but the scorpion fish, for example, is named because it’s sting resembles that of a scorpion, and the pipefish because of it’s pipe-shaped mouth.

I wonder why land animals aren’t named after fish?

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810 or D7000 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

The Cenotes of Mexico


I love traveling and although I have been diving in the Caribbean several times, I could not resist the opportunity to return.  This time, our destination was Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  With plans to dive Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, the cenotes, and visit the whale sharks off Isla de la Mujeres, it should have been a week of fantastic photographic opportunities.  Not so.  We arrived late due to mechanical problems in our airplane, to a tropical storm that lasted for the next two days.  We ventured in to the water after the storm only to find 5 knot currents and 15 ft. viz.  Hmmm.  What to do?  Well, we decided on a visit to Chac Mool, one of the beautiful cenotes which was not affected by the weather.

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I was pleased with the beauty of the cenotes.  They were just what I expected. The calm, cool water was beautiful when the light from the surface peaked through and cast beams of light down into the caverns.

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The water was fresh and clear and yet in just this one spot, the light coming through had an eerie green cast to it.  The water there also had a distinct layer between the hazy salt water on the bottom, and the clear fresh water on top.  I have heard that when the two layers have not been disturbed you can see your reflection in the salt water layer while diving in the fresh water layer.

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At one time this cavern was not full of water, but was a cave.  With time, stalactites formed on the ceiling, and then the ceiling collapsed and the cavern filled with water.

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Diving through these caverns is a great experience.  It was as if you were exploring a cave by floating through the air.  No slipping or climbing involved.  Just serene floating and an occasional kick.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

The Colors of the Sea


The colors of the wind, the colors of a rainbow, and the colors of the mountain have nothing on the colors of the sea!  One of the most beautiful places to see beautiful underwater reefscapes is Verde Island in the Philippines.  This island has an interesting history.  In 1620 the Spanish galleon known as Nuestro Senora de la Vida, sunk off the shores of this island.  It wasn’t until 350 years later that this ship was discovered and excavated.  Now the currents have washed the remains of the ship away, but shards of blue Chinese pottery from the ship’s galley can still be found on the shores of the island.  Some of the local people collect the broken dishes, vases, and tea sets and make them into jewelry, or sell the pieces to tourists.  Some of these shards can even be found in paving stones in some of the local resorts.  But this isn’t the reason tourists visit Verde Island.  They go there to dive the very beautiful reefs that surround the island.  When there is a lot of current present, the corals will open up to feed and this is what makes the reefs so beautiful.

In addition to the beautiful corals and anemone's, fish abound.  These beautiful pinkish fish are anthias.
In addition to the beautiful corals and anemone’s, fish abound. These beautiful pinkish fish are anthias.
Here a crinoid or feather star has crawled out on the tip of the coral to catch planktonic nutrients as they pass by in the current.
Here a crinoid or feather star has crawled out on the tip of the coral to catch planktonic nutrients as they pass by in the current.
This massive sea fan is not only large, but has a beautiful color that compliments the schools of fish.
This massive sea fan is not only large, but has a beautiful color that compliments the schools of fish.
The variety of corals and anemone's on this reef are astounding and beautiful.
The variety of corals and anemone’s on this reef are astounding and beautiful.
This coral head is one of my favorite images because of the diversity of life surrounding it.
This coral head is one of my favorite images because of the diversity of life surrounding it.
As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me