Underwater Images by Peter Pinnock
The propellers are spinning. The exit doors are securely latched. The plane is vibrating gently. The pilot leans through the cockpit door glancing over his passengers. “Welcome aboard. Life jackets under your seats. Keep your safety belt on. Safety card in your seat pocket. Flight time 1 hour”. With his perfunctory safety briefing complete, he steps into the cockpit and revs the engines higher. Soon the Twin Otter is heading for marshmallow clouds and minutes later we are flying over emerald islands towards Uepi Island, Solomon Islands.
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A large Komodo dragon lethargically raises its head and turns in my direction. I’ve disturbed its laze on a desolate beach on an island of Komodo National Park. This reptile may resemble a harmless lizard but I have been informed otherwise. It is a carnivorous and aggressive cold blooded creature. This description seems fitting considering the surrounding landscape is stark, dry, savannah scrub .
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The long blue and white wooden perahu chugs out of the protected bay in front of Mimpi Resort and heads into slightly choppy waters. The boat lifts a fine sea spray which is a welcome relief from the heat. Ahead a similar perahu is full of happy snorkelers and behind us another has a congregation of Hindu worshippers. The skipper steers with one hand only as he is engrossed in conversation with the crew. He has made his offerings to the Hindu gods at his temple on top of his perahu and knows we are safe.
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"Dan glances at the daily itinerary, scratches his fine curly hair and shifts a wad of Copenhagen chewing tobacco in his cheek. He digs out a diagram of the Yamagiri Maru from a fat file, shifts the Copenhagen to the other cheek and starts the briefing. 'The Yamagiri Maru was a transport ship. It sank from a torpedo hit and is resting on her port side.' "
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"On the island of Ngibtal lived a lonely old woman. Her only son, Mangidabrutkoel, was often away. Every day villagers would pass by her carrying their catches of fish. Sadly no-one ever offered her any, even though she had no means of catching her own. After one particularly long period away, her son returned to find his mother most unhappy. " Nan, our taxi driver and self appointed tour guide, is a storyteller of note. He has brought us to the oldest traditional bai (meeting house) in Palau. The wooden roof beams inside the bai are boldly painted with traditional art depicting Palau’s legends. Nan points to a painting of a tree bearing fish, not fruit and continues….
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"‘'The Spice Islands’ is a name that prompts the imagination to think of delectable cuisine from exotic menus accompanied by delicious odours wafting through a restaurant overlooking an azure blue sea. Reality is that the Spice Islands are nothing like that at all. Once the most coveted islands in the world, over which battles and blood was shed, the 10 islands making up the group are now scraps of prime real estate in a distant corner of eastern Indonesia."
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"Many villagers living on the northern coast of Bali give daily offerings of fruit and flowers to Baruna, Hindu God of the Sea. Baruna in turn must protect the sea, its inhabitants and ensure that there is sufficient fish to feed his worshippers. Not a simple task with a large population to feed and Mother Nature’s temperament to placate in Bali, an Indonesian island located within the Pacific Ring of Fire"
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'Look after your engine and it will look after you. Check the fuel, oil, filters and water regularly and don't forget to service it often.' Haven't we heard that from many a mechanic? In the Pacific Ocean Raja Ampat is an example of an exceptional healthy engine.
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"It should not take too long," says Mark Addison confidently as he tosses a sack of sardines over the side of the boat. We are anchored 5km off the small holiday town of Scottborough on South Africa's East Coast. Mark Addison is owner of Blue Wilderness - a company that specialises in marine adventures. We are here to attempt to photograph the elusive tiger shark.
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Frogfish have a certain appeal. Maybe it's their lumpy cellulite appearance and their awkwardness that I identify with. Maybe its admiration for their ingenuous and effective yet lazy feeding technique. Or perhaps even jealousy of their ability to adapt their looks to match their surroundings? Whatever the reason, I have this fascination to find them. frogfish.
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The distinctive shape of a flight deck materializes as I descend to 30m. I imagine a fighter plane returning - mission complete. The pilot negotiates the approach, the deck crew ready for the landing, the firefighting crews on standby and gunners scanning the skies for stray enemy aircraft. I fin over the vast deck from which hundreds of planes have landed and taken off. A fine layer of silt stirs revealing the rivets that once held the teak planks together. In the sponsons on either side of the deck rows of live ammunition is stacked ready to be loaded into the tactically positioned 5” 38 calibre guns and MK2 Quad 40mm guns.
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The Kwazulu-Natal coast has become a popular diving destination for enthusiasts from around the world. It offers a variety of colourful reefs, wrecks and a stunning variety of sea-life. The warm Agulhas current that flows down the Kwazulu-Natal coast allows the worlds southern-most tropical reefs to flourish, with water temperature that seldom drop below 20ºC, summer or winter.
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"Paul, do you see any sharks from there?" Mark asks into his two-way radio. Paul Buchel is circling 500 feet above us in his single-engine Piper. The plane banks to one side and Paul's voice crackles over the radio:"There are a few on the inside of the shoal and a big one on the outside". That wasn't what I wanted to hear. I have an aqualung strapped to my back and am about to fall off the side of the boat into the writhing mass of fish. Below us the water has turned from blue to dark brown as the shoal of sardines pass beneath the boat. The water around us seems to boil as the sardines are chased to the surface by predators...
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