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Day 8: Sunday, 20 April 2008

Morotai
Latitude: 2º 11.554" N   Longitude: 128º 57.366" E

Posted by Rod

Today was very rewarding all around. Good records, good diving, a good deed ashore, and good fun. “Yahoo” was the first word from Andreas Muljadi as he broke the surface this afternoon. He and the fish group recorded a school of 30 large bumphead parrotfishes, a group of Napoleon wrasse, and a small aggregation of coral trout, among sharks, barracuda, and other great fishes. Andreas has years of experience monitoring fish spawning aggregations and considers our afternoon site one. If the aggregation has been there as long as the huge coral head that towers above it, fishes would have been using this site to spawn for more than 1,000 years.

Pacific species showed up today in the fish counts. Coral species generally have a wider geographic distribution and so there are no likely Pacific influences. Indra Bayu Vimono has raised the echinoderms over the 30 species mark, with all the feather stars still to be added, and crustaceans are up at over 130 species, with a number still to be identified.

The big news is that we have two new dottyback fish species, and another suspected new species still under close scrutiny.

A live female olive Ridley turtle was found in a village today. The guys had a whip around and raised the money needed to buy and free it to nest another day. The land team, Imran Taeran, Anwar Ibrahim, and Erick Zulhikman found the traditional sasi system alive and well in this village. Woe betide any community members that infringe the traditional regulations governing the garfish fishery.

Rod snorkelled with a group of 8 spinner dolphins off the reef in 120 feet of water. He doesn’t know which is more exciting, swimming with dolphins or being in water so clear that the bottom is quite clear over 100 feet down.

Young bluetangs or palette surgeonfish, or Dory in "Looking for Nemo"


A new species of spottyback baring some impressive fangs.


Asril Djunaidi releasing a hawksbill turtle.

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