Maluku Mumblings

Betty’s Juvenile Yellowmargin Moray Eel

Betty Wasicek is one of the most experienced divers we’ve had at Maluku Divers. She was one of the brave few women in the 1960s who dove into the blue — then, diving was just a tank and hose without a BCD — to discover an enchanting underwater world that has mesmerised her to this day. But after 43 years of diving and having seen every fish and critter in the books, she was in search of the extraordinary. And her first visit to Ambon Bay was well-rewarded by a rare sighting of this translucent, ribbon-like juvenile Yellowmargin Moray Eel (Gymnothorax flavimarginatus) in the lush halimeda garden of Laha.

This is the second sighting of this enchantingly surreal juvenile eel in Ambon. The first sighting was in the same month last year. While much remains unknown about the spawning behaviour and life stages of the moray eels that are found in all colors, sizes and species in Ambon Bay, what we do know is that the larval eels of the gymnothorax species, known as leptocephali, have a lengthy pelagic stage before settling down in coral reef habitats. This juvenile yellowmargin moray eel was probably in search of a home in the Ambon reefs when he was spotted by our dive guide.

In Betty’s own words “you could be diving for 43 years and never have the privilege to see this intriguing creature”. It made her dive trip and she’s already planning to return to Maluku Divers in the next season! We look forward to welcoming you with open arms, Betty! (You can bring Jerry too if you want!)

Jayne’s Freckled FrogFish

If you are infected with Frogfish fever, as many divers are, you would be glad to know that there are frogfishes aplenty in Ambon Bay. There are giant frogfishes (antennarius commersonii), warty frogfishes, painted frogfishes (antennarius maculates), and of course, the latest species that has been found only in Ambon, the Maluku Frogfish (histiophryne psychedelica). In November 2010, during one of the dives made during the Wetpixel Night Safari arranged by Tony Wu and Eric Cheng, four hairy frogfishes (antennarius striatus) made their appearance on the shores of Laha.

It was at this very dive site, also known as The Twilight Zone, that Jayne Bruner (again, one of Maluku Divers’ repeat, repeat, repeat guests) shot this image of a cryptic frogfish (antennarius coccineus) during one of her night dives this week. This colourful Freckled Frogfish was well-camouflaged in the algae-encrusted ropes and an old tyre where it made it’s home, only coming out at night, but our keen-eyed dive guides blew his cover, of course.

For those of you who have not met or heard about Bob and Jayne Bruner —and you probably would have if you are a regular visitor to Indonesia— this lovely couple have been diving Indonesian waters since the 1990′s. They first dove Ambon with late, great, Larry Smith the King of Muck Diving,  Burt Jones and  Maurine Shimlock in 1993.  It is not so well known that that Ambon was actually the birthplace of Indonesian muck diving. In fact it was not until after Larry’s exploratory dives at Ambon bay where he encountered critters he had never seen before, that he went on to pioneer the muck diving in Lembeh.

While Lembeh nowadays is a busy region with a concentration of many resorts all brimming with divers, Ambon Bay is home to only one dive operation, Maluku Divers, which is the only internationally managed resort of the two that operate on the island. So, it really is “Critters without Crowds” at The Maluku Divers Resort. We hope this is only part of the reason Bob and Jayne keep returning to dive with us!

Bruce’s Stargazer

The tsunami warnings sent out to multiple countries and islands across the south Pacific on March 11, 2011 following the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake in north east Japan left Maluku mostly untouched. Our hearts go out to Japan and all those affected by the tragedy. Thankfully, Ambon island, whose bay faces southeast, is sheltered by Ceram island in the north, and Maluku Divers’ guests went about diving with their usual intensity.

The highlight of the diving this week is this interesting stargazer which was found at the dive site, Air Manis, during one of our regular night dives, which can now be arranged at sites close to the resort, as well as our convenient house reef.

While the whitemargin stargazer (uranoscopus sulpheus) is regularly seen during night dives in Ambon, this particular stargazer, which has a brown base and distinct white spots all over its body, has not been seen here until this week, when two individuals were spotted by our eagle-eyed guides. We think they may be the tropical-dwelling white-spotted stargazer (uranoscopus polli), and although most of the fish identification sites we consulted have described them dwelling on sandy slopes beyond 20 metres/66 feet, these two were found at between 14–16 metres/46–53 feet. One of the first guests who came to the new Maluku Divers resort at Laha in November 2009, Bruce Shafer, shares his photo of this night-dweller, found during his second repeat visit here.  If anyone knows for certain what species this stargazer is, please let us know.

Bruce is, by the way, in the process of publishing his photos of underwater creatures in a coffee table book. We want a copy!

Kathy’s Snakey Bornella

Cool sea breeze, hot sun and tranquil sea conditions return to the resort after two weeks of unexpectedly rough weather. Crystal clear water once again greets divers as they make their way to the dive boats. The departure of the unseasonal pounding waves sees many more of our resident critters back too: medium-sized grey warty and orange painted frogfishes, Pegasus seamoths and of course, the all-time photographers’ favourite, harlequin shrimps— in one memorable dive 11 of them were found in Laha!

The calm sea also means that guests at Maluku Divers could once more enjoy our offer of unlimited diving on our amazing and intriguing house reef. Ms. Kathryn Carl, a much loved repeat (repeat) guest of the resort and an avid night diver, took up the offer last night and she was not disappointed: she saw a snakey bornella (bornella anguilla) for the first time! She shares her prized picture of the interesting nudibranch below. We’re waiting for Kathy to become a repeat, (repeat, repeat) guest again next season!

Kathryn Carl, Maluku Divers House Reef, March 2011

Welcome to the new Maluku Divers website!

Welcome to Maluku Divers’ new website.

It’s been a long time coming, thanks to a bit of advice from some, and a lot of help from others (Mr Cooper!) hopefully now the website finally does our destination some justice. Ambon is such a visually stimulating and vibrant place, our new website design hopefully showcases the kind of visit our previous divers have had, and our upcoming divers will experience.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed images, your generosity is much appreciated.

Enjoy the photographs, the information, the galleries, any questions that arise, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on .

From the entire Maluku Divers Team, we hope to see you in Ambon soon.

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