The Speaker will be Robert Myers. Here is the program:
Into the Heart of Diversiy, Ambon to West Papua A bit over a year ago we went on our last major dive trip, to Ambon and across the Banda Sea to West Papua. To you molluscophiles, Ambon is where all species bearing the name “amboinensis” come from, the Maluku Island where those named “molluccensis” come from, the Banda Islands where those named “bandanensis” come from. To naturalists, these are the islands just to the east of Wallace’s LIne, where the flora and fauna transitions from Asian to Australian lineages. While this was not a shelling trip (collecting is forbidden in preserves) and we saw few mollusks other than those without shells, it was a wonderful glimpse of the environment they inhabit. Our first 5 nights were at Spice Island Divers in Ambon, on the shore of a bay that slopes steeply down to 1,000 m. The shallows offer a variety of coastal coral community and soft sediment muck dive sites. The steep slopes are subject to seasonal upwelling and have a number of somewhat deeper-dwelling species that encroach into safe diving depths. The rest of the trip was on the Damai Dua, a luxurious fanisi-style live-aboard. Our 12-day excursion began with daily stops through a chain of isolated coral pinnacles and active volcanos including the historic island and city of Banda Niera. From there we travelled to the eastern end of Ceram, the largest of the Maluku Islands, then on to Misool, the largest of the Raja Ampat Islands. These isands sit on the West Papuan shelf and are home to the world’s most diverse coral reefs. Of special interest to us are species of carpet and epaulet (“walking”) sharks, found only on the Papuan-Australian continetal shelf. We finished the trip with a dive on a pinncale reef in the Fam Island group, a site we first dived 15 years earlier, during our first digital photo trip.