Papua Explorers: diving Raja Ampat during Covid 19
If you are going to travel during an international crises go somewhere warm where you can see the ocean. Christian & I were planning this Indonesia trip for a year then COVID- 19 comes along. We started the journey from San Francisco on February 13 2020 – way before significant COVID numbers in the US. At that time the big story was China, airlines were just starting to reroute travel in and around Asia.
After 30 hours of flights and layovers we are finally on a small boat in from Sorong, Indonesia going to Raja Ampat. Papua Explorers dive resort is our home for the next 7 days, this is a diver’s paradise. People who have been here describe it as best diving they have experienced. We are staying in the 5th bungalow from the right down here. We are very close to the equator & deep in the Coral Triangle.
Before our trip, Christian & I purchased the Olympus TG-6 an inexpensive underwater camera with not so inexpensive accessories. The camera has an unbelievable macro function that is equal to many high end professional cameras, it even has what Oly calls their microscope mode. The TG-6 will not shoot full manual but in this inexpensive price range no surprise. Christian was able to get some good results underwater and by next dive, we should have this camera figured out.
A few drone flights with the Mavic Pro & no crashes but I’m always worried about putting it in the ocean – that would be a bad day. Raja Ampat has to be one of the most unusual locations for aerial photography, it would have been good to have 3-4 days to focus on drone shooting. This diving destination is really off the grid, in 2001 a marine study found nearly 1,000 tropical fish species—many of the species discovered had been previously unknown. The local village is Yenwaupnor, a short walk from the dive resort. A place to see real Indonesian culture that looks nothing like the metropolis of Jakarta.
The cool thing & best thing about Papua Explorers is the eco-friendly experience. The Papua Foundation Sea Center is an NGO dedicated to conservation & green practices. The dive staff employees teach in the local village and are busy with a reef restoration & other practices that protect the area. Even now during this international pandemic the foundation staff is protecting local waters and helping with food supplies for the local villages. Indonesia with its secluded islands, might be affected worse than more populated areas in this international crises. Food supplies & travel are extremely difficult. I hope that when we emerge from this Covid 19 mess Raja Ampat can return to their normal business of showing the world the importance of a beautiful & clean ocean.
I’ve worked in healthcare media production for over 20 years. My images of patients & providers is a window to their world often captured at a vulnerable time. As a senior producer, I’ve experienced the insane, delightful but always educational challenges in creating images and stories.