Monday, April 30, 2007

Assorted Pictures

Spearfisher - K57

Anemone - K41

Cowry - K41

Stars and Stripes Toadfish (Arothron hispidus) eye - K41

Diver - K57

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fish of East Timor

Blue-ringed Angelfish (Pomacanthus annularis) - Com jetty

Harlequin ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) - Pertamina jetty

Bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) - Dirt Track

Ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita) - K41

Spine-cheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus) - Bob's Rock

Dive Log

Location: Behau village AKA Rick's Rapture
Date: 29th April 2007
Time in: 1400
Duration: 74mins
Max Depth: 30 metres
Tides: High 1147 2metres – Low 1827 0.7metres
Weather: Sunny, some breeze
Sea: Calm, small wavelets
Visibility: 15metres +/-
Divers: Two – Self/Aki

A very nice dive. Swam out from the beached fishing boats until there was about 5metres underneath us. Descended over some healthy corals and headed north to the start of the wall. We then followed a ridge down to about 30metres looking for anything big. On the way down we spotted a Giant Barracuda, two nice Nudibranchs (Glossodoris sp) and a huge school of Neon fusiliers. We also found a Flying Gurnard (Dactyloptena orientalis), a very ugly fish when resting but when it is alarmed the pectoral fins come out looking like a Dresden china plate. Magnificent. We then headed east along the slope. A large Napoleon wrasse accompanied us along the way. Found some more Nudibranchs, including a very pretty little Flabalinna.

Flying gurnard (Dactyloptena orientalis) Behau village

Dive Log

Location: K41
Date: 29th April 2007
Time in: 1030
Duration: 80 mins
Tides: High 1147 2metres – Low 1827 0.7metres
Max Depth: 30.5 metres
Weather: Sunny
Sea: Flat calm
Visibility: 20metres +/-
Divers: Two – self/Aki

We started the dive at the beginning of the wall. Fantastic vis and no current. We headed east along the wall and found one leaf scorpionfish, 3 Nembrotha lineolata nudibranchs and lots of fish!
Carried on down to the overhang at 25metres to look for sharks. Found one whitetip reef shark in a small cave then looked up and saw a large Napoleon wrasse shadowing us. Carried on along east and just hung out with all the fish. At 100bar we turned around and came back at around 12metres all the way. Absolutely wonderful. Lots of sunlight, lots of fish and no current. At the end of the dive found another Nudibranch (unidentified) that I’ll try to ID later. Thanks Aki, a great dive.

Nembrotha lineolata - K41

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bob's Rock - West

Site Name: Bob’s Rock West AKA Behau Forest
Location: About 48km east of Dili on the coast road, Behau
Getting there: After driving through Behau village, with the white-walled ex resort, carry on up and over the cliffside road. Once you get to the bottom, sea-level, part of the road look on the left for a rock with ‘HB’ spray-painted in white. Turn off the road here and head down the track to the waters edge.
GPS Co-ords: TBA
Entry/Exit: Just east of the overhanging tree. Swim out about 30metres until you are over an area of coral rubble. Descend here.
Shade: Plenty
Diver Experience Level: Open Water and above

I think this is one of the most under-estimated sites in ET. Lots of different terrain, coral species and depths. On the entry there is a nice big stack of staghorn coral, full of Anthias, Basslets, Coral trout and Lionfish. Also at least 5 different species of clown fish including Spine-cheeked, tomato, pink, false and Clarks.
Just to the east of the staghorn, at about 12metres, is a big barrel sponge. This is a great place to look for critters. On or under the sponge itself look for leaf scorpionfish, ghost pipefish in the crinoids and banded pipefish under the sponge. About 1metre west of the sponge is a mushroom coral, host to 2 white pipefish.
On roughly the same line as the sponge but at 21metres is a solitary gorgonian fan. This is home to at least 4 Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti). The area between the sponge and the fan is also a good hunting ground for different species of Nudibranchs.
Just west of the staghorn is a big sandy patch. Halfway across the patch is a very large colony of garden eels (Heteroconger hassi). These are the longest garden eels I have seen anywhere.
After the sand you come to more coral. A wall stops at about 10metres depth with a gentle slope to a bommy at 12metres. The base of the wall has numerous little overhangs where you may find a crocodilefish (or flathead) lying in ambush. The bommy is also good for critters eg: banded shrimp, leaf scorpionfish.
From the bommy I usually head down to about the 18metre mark and continue west. After a while you will come to a wonderful overhang at a depth of about 24metres which juts out into the open ocean. The overhang itself has a lot of life, including the biggest Spanish dancer (Hexabrancus sanguineus) I have ever seen at 67cm! Also it is a good place to hang and just look into the blue for passing pelagics. The wall carries on here for a good while but by now most divers are at about 100bar so its time to turnaround. Slowly ascend to around the 10/12metre mark and make your way back to the starting point via a wonderful coral wall. This is best dived at around midday with the overhead sun lighting the place up like a tropical garden.

Highlights: Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti), white pipefish (Siokunichthys nigrolineatus), Garden eels (Heteroconger hassi) and Harlequin ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus)

Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti), Bob's Rock

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Anyone Can Dive

Timor Leste’s Youngest Scuba Divers
By Ann Turner

Nandini Hannak and Svein Klakeg (aged 8) have become Timor Leste’s youngest scuba divers. They have just finished the PADI “Bubblemaker” course for kids, whilst their elder siblings Anjleen Hannak and Ane Klakeg (aged 10) have completed the “Bubblemaker” course and are now well on the way to getting their certification as PADI Junior Open Water scuba divers.
Already veteran snorkellers, the Hannak girls decided that they wanted to join PADI Divemaster father, Jurgen and Advanced Diver mother, Elke, in the underwater fun. Mum and Dad duly delivered Anjleen and Nandini to FreeFlow Dive Centre’s Instructor, Marianne Woodward and within a day they were cruising along the bottom of the Hotel Esplanada’s swimming pool like old hands.

Recreational scuba diving has only been in existence since the 60’s and many people still think that it’s the stuff of James Bond movies, a sport only for very gung-ho, adventure sports types. But now that 8-year-olds are doing it, we’d better think again! I didn’t pluck up the courage until I was 40; once I saw my first coral reef, up close and personal, I regretted the non-diving decades that had passed by. To think that so much of our world is covered by oceans and that I could have lived my life without exploring the beauty of the reef and seeing for myself the amazing creatures that live on it. How I wish that I could have started as a child! I think of the things I could have seen and the experience I would have accumulated now that I’m a 50-year old diver. It’s never too late to start, though. An instructor friend of mine once taught a 76-year-old woman to dive!
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) deserves the credit for opening up the dive experience to children. Their specially-designed courses for 8 year-olds and above are called “Bubblemakers”. Under the very close supervision of a PADI Instructor, the youngsters learn how to breathe and swim underwater according to PADI’s very stringent safety standards. Once “Bubblemakers” are confident underwater, they realise that they can get up to all kinds of fun beneath the water’s surface. Anjleen and Nandini enjoyed playing with the underwater torpedo – it glides through the water like a Frisbee. Young divers can stand on their heads, swim through hoops, or hover motionless in mid-water. “Bubblemakers” also get a personalised certificate with their underwater photo to hang on the wall. Anjleen, at the age of 10, is already old enough to start on the next step: the Junior Open Water certification, which allows kids to get out onto the reef with all the grown-ups (and the fish). She was very excited after her first dive in the sea: “There is so much to discover that you don’t know where to start!” she said afterwards. Nandini will have to wait two years to catch up with her sister but she’s already impressed with her first scuba dive in the swimming pool: “I feel like a fish, weightlessly floating in the sea…”, she said.
But there’s also a very strong educational reason to take the little ones underwater. They learn valuable lessons about underwater life and reef ecology. As the future custodians of the marine environment, the sooner children realise how wonderful and delicate it is, the sooner they can play an active role as ambassadors for reef conservation.
My own enthusiasm for marine life has been magnified through the eyes of these young divers. Anjleen and Nandini were so inspired by the beauty of the reefs in Timor Leste that they started painting pictures of underwater scenes. There is nothing childish about these works of art; each species pictured is correct in its anatomical details, its habitat and behaviour. These girls are already experts.
Instructor Marianne enjoyed the course as much as the kids: “Teaching kids to dive is a fantastic experience, they are so enthusiastic about everything they do and their excitement is infectious, especially when they see their first Nemo. Obviously being at the PADI youngest age for diving, extra attention and supervision is necessary, that’s why I teach kids on a one to one basis. But if their parents are divers they can come along for the fun. It’s something really special seeing your child take their first breath underwater”.
So now, the whole family can get out of Dili for a day’s diving and International schoolmates can play together underwater. No more boring Sundays!
Anyone aged from 8 to 80 can scuba dive, subject to the following conditions:
you must be able to swim (200mt. for PADI Open Water)
you must be in good health. You will be asked to fill in a confidential health questionnaire and may have to obtain a dive fitness certificate from a dive specialist doctor if you have particular medical conditions.

Find out more about dive courses on the PADI website:

Ann Turner is co-owner of Timor Leste’s longest-established dive centre, FreeFlow, situated close to the Hotel Esplanada on the beach road. FreeFlow conducts regular dive excursions to beaches outside Dili, with BBQ or buffet lunches. Families and non-divers are welcome. Call 7234614 for further details. To book a dive course, call PADI Instructor Marianne Woodward on 7234615.

Marianne and Ane Klakeg in the pool

Picture curtesy Anjleen, PADI Junior Open Water

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dive Log

Location: Bob’s Rock
Date: 23rd April 2007
Time: 2pm
Duration: 60mins
Tides: Low 0916 1.2metres – High 1703 2.0metres
Weather: Sunny, some cloud, slight breeze
Sea: Calmish, some waves
Visibility: 10/15metres +/-
Divers: Three. Self/Vanessa/Zach

We started the dive from the east side of the large overhanging tree (good shade) and descended over the impressive patch of staghorn coral about 30metres from shore. First stop was the large barrel sponge at 12metres. I love looking around here for weird and unusual critters and wasn’t disappointed today. Look out for a leaf scorpionfish on the sponge itself and white pipefish in the mushroom coral about 1metre east from the sponge. We then headed west at about 12metres until we came to the large sandy patch. A few peacock flounders in the sand but of course for the divers with me, who had never dived Bob’s before, the highlight was the very large field of garden eels. After checking them out for a while we carried on to the wall. All very nice with lots of the usual suspects. Oriental sweetlips, some large surgeons and a wonderful Harlequin ghostpipefish in a crinoid. A very peaceful and gentle dive with no current.

White pipefish (Siokunichthys nigrolineatus) Bob's Rock


Phyllodesmium longicirum, K41

Glossodoris cinta, Bob's Rock

Glossodoris cruentus, K41

Gymnodoris cylonica, Pertamina jetty

Chromodoris leopardus, K41

Site Map

Picture curtesey Jurgen Hannak, senior bubble-maker, age 41

Tide Tables - Double click to view

Tide tables for Dili and Hera, April 25th through May 1st

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dive Log

Location: K41
Date: 23rd April 2007
Time: 10am
Duration: 31minutes.
Tides: Low 0916 1.2metres. High 1703 2.0metres.
Weather: Sunny, some cloud. Light breeze.
Sea: Slight chop, otherwise calm.
Visibility: 15metres +/-
Divers: Three. Self/Vanessa/Zach.

We entered the water at the usual location, just in front of the shade tree, and descended onto the sand/rocks about 10metres west of the wall. Good visibility for the time of year considering the rain we had the previous day. In the first minute we found a nice little leaf scorpionfish swaying in the current at about 10metres. Carried on along the wall until we came to the ‘manger scene’ at about 18metres with lots of fish along the way. From the ‘manger’ we swam down about 15degrees east of north until we came to a sequence of small caves and overhangs where you can more often than not find a female white-tip reefy sheltering in the first cave. She wasn’t there! We carried on around the outcrop until we came to the small cave at 20metres and there she was, having a doze. After checking her out for a couple of minutes we came up and over the ridge to be hit by a very strong current which was trying to push us further east and up! We fought the current for about 5 minutes but eventually decided to abort the dive as it wasn’t fun anymore. The three of us surfaced together and then spent about 20minutes swimming back to the shore. It was a pity about the strong current as it had the potential to be a very good dive with lots of fish and good vis.

Leaf scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus)


Remember, there is no recompression chamber in East Timor. The nearest are in Darwin and Bali and are expensive to get to and a long way away. Remember also we have no coast-guard. No one will come to save you. You are basically on your own. Plan your dives with this in mind and you should be OK.
Always dive within your limits. Let someone know where you are diving and an approximate time for your return. Always have a basic first aid kit in your vehicle. I also take a tyre inflator with me. This fixes to the low-pressure inflator hose on your reg. It will get you home in an emergency. Most tyre pressures are around the 30psi mark. 10 bar in your empty tank is equivalent to 150psi.