Another 10 days have passed and Bilikiki has returned to Honiara. For this last trip, we were joined by 20 dive enthusiasts from REEF under the leadership of Christy Semmens and her husband Brice. What a joy to see so many familiar faces from a previous trip a few years ago!
Armed with big slates, the divers counted and photographed as many different fish species as possible on every long dive. The surface intervals were then used for determining the species name and other features, everything was then entered into the REEF data base. Discussions on fish identification filled a good part of the afternoons.
REEF was founded in 1990 by Paul Human and Ned DeLoach, as an organisation of divers and marine enthusiasts committed to ocean conservation and anyone can join. During this trip, two of the participants were rewarded with their acceptance to the Golden Hamlet Club, for having completed and submitted 1000 reef surveys each - congratulations to Janet and Kara for this incredible achievement!
Our divers enjoyed the stunning reefs, teeming with life, all around the Solomons. An all time favourite for everyone though was Kicha in Marovo Lagoon, where countless fish surrounded us throughout the dive and the divers barely had time to mark all the different species on their slates. Clouds of blue fusiliers, followed by barracudas, batfish, different kinds of surgeons, grey reef sharks, kingfish, tunas and a gazillion of other species were out for us on this spectacular reef. All of this to the soundtrack of the underwater volcano Kavachi rumbling along. What a dive - smiling faces all around! The flashlight fish in Mbulo and the fluorescent plankton equally fascinated our divers during one of the night dives.
The floating markets and the visits to the wood carvers were enjoyed by all as well and many beautiful souvenirs were purchased.
After an entertaining village visit in Karumolun in the Russell Islands, where our guests were invited to dance and sing along to the panpipe music, we ended the day at White Beach. An incredible variety of fish waited for our divers on this WW2 dump site, from signal gobies to archer fish, cardinals, diamond fish and spadefish. Octopus and different species of beautiful nudibranchs were waiting for us there too. There was so much to see that we ended up with dive times of nearly two hours! The days passed quickly with many beautiful dives along the way, from reefs to wrecks and seamounts - all equally impressive and they provided an enormous amount of new fish data to be entered.
Our heartfelt thanks go to Christy and all her group of ocean lovers for joining us once again. It was a real pleasure to have you all onboard and hopefully we will see you again soon!
Once again, the hard working Bilikiki crew made all this possible and we can't thank them enough. Tagio tumas!
With best fishes,
Tina & Oli