Ambon 2010


I felt so lucky, we had the ultimate critter loving group one could ask for!

What a great trip we’ve had so far. 12 days in Ambon, full on critter hunting and now more to come starting tomorow when we head of on our Beyond Komodo Critter Cruise.

Sadly the internet connection over in Ambon failed numerous times and my laptop went down for a while too which meant I was unable to keep a ongoing log like I wanted.

In short, we found tons of really cool animals such as wonderpuss, mimic and poison occelate (Mototi) octopii, cuttlefish in all shapes and sizes including many flabouyant including the tiny and colourful juveniles, even mating pigmy cuttlefish, just about the scorpionfish one could shake a stick at came out including two species of Rhinopias and the much loved brilliant red Rhinopias eschmeyeri with some fantastic environment shots by Shannon Conway (gallery to come very soon). We watched some fantastic behaviours including a bobbit worm eating a lionfish and surprisingly enough this was right in the middle of the day. We saw plenty of frogfishes in a huge range of shapes and sizes, (sorry to have to tell you Hanna-personal joke she knows well though!) but once again the Psychedelic eluded me. Some of the group had seen it previously, others hadn’t! Being divers who understand that marine life is after all a part of nature we weren’t all that bothered about not seeing it, in fact no one really mentioned it too much we were having such a great time hunting for anything and everything else down there. We know that Ambon is not going anywhere and we’ll be back another day and we all know that there is plenty more out there we have yet to find…

And as for our nudibranchs – It was great to find a few more species of nudibranch new to us and a few we have yet to identify. The enthusiasm of this group was great, we even had some of the other guests at the resort joining in and getting excited with us!

We had a fantastic highlight video produced for us already that we even managed to check out on our final evening, thanks so much to Nannette! Everyone who joined contributed to the nudibranch count and our total count was right by my estimate of 130 species. Not a huge amount, but for such a small area, only a few miles radius from the resort not too bad. So far 132 though we’ve yet to go over all the images, video grabs against ID books.

Big thanks go out to Andy and his crew for making all this happen and arranging a great land tour on our final day of off gassing. Havis’s village and the fresh water river eels are a must do for anyone heading out that way. For those who enjoy scenic drives, the north coast is also a great highlight with some lovely little villages along the way. Huge respect also goes out to Havis for being such a wonder of talents, he really is the sweet’n’swooning vocalist of Ambon. If you’re lucky you might just get to experience one of his live & truly unplugged sessions while dining.


Why Nudibranchs?
There are many reasons for organising dive trips specifically for these very unique animals. The main reason for me personally is that I can always find something new for those who join. On every trip when we search in the right habitats and environments we can find an animal that we have never seen before and maybe even an animal that no one else has seen or photographed. For those who have been diving a lot around the world and even a lot around Indonesian waters we can still make sure you see something new. This is one of the biggest highlights of critter hunting. Also, for beginner photographers these have to be the easiest animal to get easy images of and great photographic images from the get go!

It’s not all about nudibranchs!
As we are searching for small animals in a variety f habitats we tend to come across a whole range of other animals too. Often we find just about all the classic highlight critter that dive guides and marine enthusiasts search for all the time.

More for the future…
I’ve found that these specific nudibranch trips have been so successful and satisfying for those joining that I’ll be running these trips annually from now on. Each time I will be bringing along a nudibranch expert who can also enhance these trips even further by bringing with them their expertise…

The good thing is that over the years I’ve found dive sites that are specific for nudibranchs and now we have the chance to go and explore with super keen branchers for these wonderful animals

The alphabetical list as of 03/10-10:

1          Aegiris exeches
2          Aegiris sp.2
3          Aegiris villosus
4          asteronotus mimeticus
5          Ategema intecta
6          Berthellina ??
7          Bornella stellifer
8          Caloria indica
9          Carminodoris estrelyado
10        Caryophyllidia dorid/halaxa like
11        Ceratosoma gracililium
12        Ceratosoma sinuata
13        Ceratosoma tenue
14        Ceratosoma trilobatum
15        Chromocoris cf. Michaeli
16        Chromodoris annae
17        Chromodoris burni?
18        Chromodoris fidelis
19        Chromodoris geometrica
20        Chromodoris hintuanensis
21        Chromodoris inornata
22        Chromodoris joshis
23        Chromodoris leopardus
24        Chromodoris magnifica
25        Chromodoris preciosa
26        Chromodoris reticulata
27        Chromodoris sp.
28        Cratena white ?
29        Cuthona sp?
30        Dermatobranchus albus
31        Dermatobranchus sp.12
32        Dermatobranchus sp.7
33        Discodoris boholensis
34        Dolabela auricularia
35        Doto rosacea
36        Elysia sp.20
37        Favorinus tsuruganus
38        Flabellina
39        Flabellina bicolor
40        Flabellina exoptata
41        Flabellina riwo
42        Flabellina rubrolineolata
43        Flabellina sp.2
44        Glossodoris atromarginata
45        Glossodoris cf. sp.3
46        Glossodoris cincta
47        Glossodoris pallida
48        Glossodoris rufomarginata
49        Glossodoris sp.
50        Glossodoris sp.
51        Goniodorella cf. savignyi
52        Grey like halaxa
53        Gymnodoris citrina
54        Halgerda malesso
55        Hexabranchus sanguineus
56        Hypselodoris emma
57        Hypselodoris infucata
58        Hypselodoris maculosa
59        Hypselodoris zephyr
60        Hyselodoris cf sp.5
61        Jorunna rubescens
62        Marionia sp.13
63        Mexichromis multituberculata
64        Nembrotha cristata
65        Nembrotha kubaryana
66        Notobryon sp.2
67        Noumea sp.4
68        Pectenodoris aurora
69        Pectenodoris trilineolata
70        Phestilla lugubris
71        Philidiopsis cardinalis
72        Philinopsis pilsbry
73        Phyllidia coelestis
74        Phyllidia ocelata
75        Phyllidia pustulosa
76        Phyllidia varicosa
77        Phyllidiella nigra
78        Phyllidiopsis striata
79        Phyllodesmium briareum
80        Phyllodesmium fluoro
81        Phyllodesmium jacobsonae
82        Phyllodesmium longicirrum
83        Phyllodesmium magnum
84        Phyllodesmium ruddmani
85        Phyllodesmium serratum
86        Phylodesmium poindinmiei
87        Platydoris cinerbranchiata
88        Pleurobranchus forskalii
89        Pleurobranchus peroni
90        Pteriollidia ianthina
91        Risbecia tryoni
92        Rostanga ?
93        Sagaminopteron psychedelicum
94        Stylocheilus striatus
95        Thecacera picta
96        Thorunna furtiva
97        Thuridilla albopustulosa
98        Thuridilla gracilis
99        Thuridilla lineolata
100      Trapania euryeia or tora
101      Tritonia sp.4

This list is now up to 132 species from Ambon alone and will be updated shortly!

Reference: Gosliner, Behrens & Valdes – Indo Pacific Nudibranchs and Sea Slugs

Wow, at last, a few issues slowed me down but now I’ve managed to get things working. First of all some great news regarding airlines here in Indonesia, well not all of them, but at least one has taken the initiative to now look after divers. We looked into the airlines who were flying into Ambon now and after some phone calls and a meeting we worked out that Lion Air were offering divers free overweight baggage. I still wasn’t satisfied that this would happen so we made sure to get an email confirming this and without any hassle or waste of time Lion Air went ahead and sent an email confirming free overweight baggage for our divers. Oh wow, it was so refreshing to check in without the hassle of negotiating overweight baggage and going to and from the check in desk with payments and receipts. I made sure to do the usual and check in as a group making sure to try my best to charm the folks behind in the counter into making sure our baggage would be priority and guaranteed to get on the plane. In Indonesia, just as it is anywhere these days, luggage doesn’t always follow along with the divers.

Our flights went smoothly, a few hours in Makasar airport passed by quickly enough with some snacks and drinks and eventually we arrived in Ambon. Upon arrival we were welcomed by the Maluku Divers staff we I simply handed over our baggage tickets and let the porters do their work. We were all very happy to see our luggage safely come round on the conveyor belt, then after a short 10 minute drive to the resort we were welcomed again, this time with a drink, plenty of smiling faces from the staff and the usual dive forms and paperwork to fill in. It was great to see that many of staff remembered those in the group who had previously joined me on trips at the other locations that Maluku Divers had prior to this all new REAL dive resort.

Even though most of the group of hadn’t booked a dive on the first day, eventually 7 out of 15 of us became itchy to get in and dive for a night dive. I’ll go into the diving more tomorrow but let’s just say we’ve seen plenty of amazing critters and so far we’ve came across at 42 different species in only 4 dives and already at least one nudibranch that I’ve never seen as well, not too bad eh!

It all starts with packing all that dive kit, spares, ID books and trying to find room for some clothes and other bits’n’bobs…

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