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Melissa's Garden among favorite Raja Ampat dives

The most famous view in Raja Ampat is, surprisingly, not underwater; the Piaynemo lookout is set among the Pam Islands giving a view of the many karst islets scattered across the lagoon

The most famous view in Raja Ampat is, surprisingly, not underwater; the Piaynemo lookout is set among the Pam Islands giving a view of the many karst islets scattered across the lagoon

The pink anemonefish is a sequential hermaphrodite with a strict size-based dominance hierarchy; the female is largest, the breeding male is second largest, and the male non-breeders get progressively smaller as the hierarchy descends

The pink anemonefish is a sequential hermaphrodite with a strict size-based dominance hierarchy; the female is largest, the breeding male is second largest, and the male non-breeders get progressively smaller as the hierarchy descends

Melissa's Garden is a favorite dive site for underwater photographers; the site had an amazing variety of hard and soft corals, sponges, crinoids, nudibranchs, and anemones, all in so many colors and forms

Melissa's Garden is a favorite dive site for underwater photographers; the site had an amazing variety of hard and soft corals, sponges, crinoids, nudibranchs, and anemones, all in so many colors and forms

Ocellated nudibranch; they are slow moving, can swim or be propelled along either by muscular contraction or by millions of tiny hairs on the bottom of a fleshy foot, they have a voracious appetite and feed with a rasp-like tongue

Ocellated nudibranch; they are slow moving, can swim or be propelled along either by muscular contraction or by millions of tiny hairs on the bottom of a fleshy foot, they have a voracious appetite and feed with a rasp-like tongue

This large green table coral stood out because it was like having a redwood in a forest of magnolias; the crew made diving on the liveaboard so easy and worryfree

This large green table coral stood out because it was like having a redwood in a forest of magnolias; the crew made diving on the liveaboard so easy and worryfree

I think Melissa's Garden won the award for the most intense snow globe effect on the trip; our divemaster was keen on finding pygmy seahorses but our group was more interested in big stuff

I think Melissa's Garden won the award for the most intense snow globe effect on the trip; our divemaster was keen on finding pygmy seahorses but our group was more interested in big stuff

The Piaynemo lookout is reached via 341 steps which have even been built around trees that were in the way; it was the first time in many days I actually had to put shoes on

The Piaynemo lookout is reached via 341 steps which have even been built around trees that were in the way; it was the first time in many days I actually had to put shoes on

Unlike my other dive trips, our group didn't include any marine biologists or science experts who could help us identify what we were seeing; our divemasters limited English made asking them fruitless

Unlike my other dive trips, our group didn't include any marine biologists or science experts who could help us identify what we were seeing; our divemasters limited English made asking them fruitless

Melissa's Garden is named for the daughter of Max Emmer who discovered the site; the large coral garden reef is close to Batanta Island in the NW part of Raja Ampat

Melissa's Garden is named for the daughter of Max Emmer who discovered the site; the large coral garden reef is close to Batanta Island in the NW part of Raja Ampat

Field of garden eels; each of these 16 inch long individuals has his own burrow; they are very timid and will retreat into their burrows if a threat is perceived

Field of garden eels; each of these 16 inch long individuals has his own burrow; they are very timid and will retreat into their burrows if a threat is perceived

White-lined rock cod; food is drawn into their mouths by a powerful suction when they open their overly large mouths and then swallowed whole

White-lined rock cod; food is drawn into their mouths by a powerful suction when they open their overly large mouths and then swallowed whole

With 11 divers (plus 3 divemasters) doing 21 dives, the most serious issue anyone had was their mask taking on water; the crew was always smiling and seemed to enjoy their work

With 11 divers (plus 3 divemasters) doing 21 dives, the most serious issue anyone had was their mask taking on water; the crew was always smiling and seemed to enjoy their work

Steephead parrotfish; this large species has an important ecological role in coral reefs because as they graze they excavate the coral to feed on algae; they grow quickly and can live to be 15 years old

Steephead parrotfish; this large species has an important ecological role in coral reefs because as they graze they excavate the coral to feed on algae; they grow quickly and can live to be 15 years old

Harlequin sweetlips; the sweetlips family is also known as grunts but that's not a very attractive name; the fish actually do making a grunting noise as their flat teeth plates rub together

Harlequin sweetlips; the sweetlips family is also known as grunts but that's not a very attractive name; the fish actually do making a grunting noise as their flat teeth plates rub together

Posted by VagabondCowboy 02:39

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