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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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

Mushroom Coral Pipefish


“Mushroom.”  “Coral.”  “Pipefish.”  It sounds like three random words thrown out there in a Pictionary game.  As unprofessional as it sounds, it took me several days of repeating the name to remember what these unusual, snakelike, wormy thingies were called.  They are so named because they belong to the pipefish family and live in mushroom coral.  They are very small, but move very fast.  In fact, the following images are three of only a few I was able to salvage out of 126 images taken of the little beasts.  The second they come into focus, they are gone again from the frame.

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When I first saw these guys, they were happily swimming around their little mushroom coral home, dodging in and out of the tentacles, hoping to get a meal.  I spent about fifteen minutes photographing them, but it was toward the end of my dive, and I didn’t have enough air to stay longer.

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A few days later I returned to the same dive site and asked the guide to find that mushroom coral for me so I could spend my dive photographing the pipefish.  I spent another forty five minutes snapping away and leaving the scene hoping I got at least a few shots in focus.

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After spending so much time with one subject (well, two in this case,) I fell in love as I usually do.  They are so cute with their mad little old man frowns.  I hope to cross paths with them again someday.

 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.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree


In the spirit of the Holidays, I thought I would dig out a few of the many images I have taken of Christmas tree worms.  As the lyrics of the carol suggest, these glorious creatures are blessed with an unusual beauty (for a worm).

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!”

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As you can see, these critters come in an amazing assortment of colors.  What you are looking at, is actually the plume (kind of like a butterfly’s antennae).  The rest of the worm lives in a burrow.  It can retract it’s plumes and they are very sensitive to the slightest disturbance in the water, even light.  The plumes sift nutrients from the water to feed the worm, as well as serve as a respiratory system.  They are found throughout the world and they are very common, yet they remain a favorite subject for photographers and divers.

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me.”

 

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.