Archive for reefs

Misool Eco Resort – New Promo Video

Posted in conservation, photography, video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2009 by shawnheinrichs

With Misool Eco Resort fully operational, it was time to refresh it’s promotional video. After many visits and hours or filming through the archipelago, I had amassed an impressive library of underwater footage. In addition I had the opportunity to film the resort grounds, facilities and luxurious accommodations.

The surface and underwater elements were assembled into new video which showcases the marine treasures and resort comforts of Misool Eco Resort. Hunting mobulas, swirling mantas, sharks, turtles, blue ring octopus, mantis shrimp and much, much more fill the screen for the 15 minute duration of video.

Bahamas – Reef Tigers

Posted in travel, video with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2008 by shawnheinrichs

One can never get enough of Jim Abernethy and his ladies…in this case 10 to 15 foot tiger sharks. Having just wrapped up the initial shoot of Shark Angels in November with Jim on the Shear Water, I needed to return to collect more footage for the film. This time however I brought my brother Brett with me. He had never before experienced diving with tigers, lemons or many of the other sharks found in the Bahamas.

As always Jim delivered in spades. As much as the weather conspired to keep us out of the water, at the first sign of a break Jim found a way to get us into the water and into the action. On several dives we had at least 8 tigers! For me this trip offered the unique opportunity to film the tigers interacting on the reef. For the most part I had spent time with them on Tiger Beach or hanging on the downline. Tigers on the reef offered some excellent shots as they swam through the whip corals, sponges and shoals of reef fish.

Diving, filming and spending time with Jim and his ladies is always a treat. By the time I step foot off the boat, I am immediately looking forward to my next trip.

Misool Eco Resort – Documenting Progress

Posted in conservation, production, travel, video with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2007 by shawnheinrichs

I returned to Raja Ampat to continue documenting the vast treasures of this amazing archipelago. This time we focused on some of the hidden treasures that only a lucky few have had the opportunity to explore. Among these were the fresh/brackish limestone lakes hidden in the interior forests of certain island. Marine life isolated for an unknown duration abound in these lakes. More to come on this in the next visit.

As always, the diversity and sheer quantity of marine life was staggering. On the house reef alone we filmed a school of over 100 bumphead parrot fish, turtles, napoleon wrasse, numerous macro critters, hunting octopus, and at least five walking sharks!

We documented the resort construction progress which has been fantastic.  The over-the-water bungalows are five star and offer some of the most scenic accommodations imaginable. The restaurant is a work of art. When the resort opens in October of 2008, the guest are going to be treated to an incredible experience.

Finally, we continued our work on the threats facing Raja Ampat. Among the unfortunate activities we documented were camps or shark finners, finned sharks, drying fins, a live turtle slaughtered and destructive fishing. Though much of Raja Ampat is still pristine, these threats could have a significant impact on the future health of the ecosystem if not stopped. With the ranger boat coming soon this will be stopped!

Fins Magazine – Shark Finning Story

Posted in conservation, news, photography with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2007 by shawnheinrichs

This past December Justin Ebert, Taro Smith and I were out in the Misool region of Raja Ampat diving and filming with Andy Miners in the new marine protected area (MPA). Since the MPA is very new, there is and will be some lag in adherence by the fishermen. We are working hard to change that quickly.

The following is a printed account in the July issue of Fins Magazine of our encounter with a shark finning crew during our visit. This is a more condensed version of the story told in April’s issue of Asian Geographic. Please share this with others so they might be motivated to take action as well.

Magazine Print: Fins-SharkFinArticle.pdf

Scuba Diving Magazine – Shark Finning Story

Posted in conservation, news, video with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2007 by shawnheinrichs

This past December Justin Ebert, Taro Smith and I were out in the Misool region of Raja Ampat diving and filming with Andy Miners in the new marine protected area (MPA). Since the MPA is very new, there is and will be some lag in adherence by the fishermen. We are working hard to change that quickly.

The following is a printed account in the April issue of Scuba Diving Magazine of our encounter with a shark finning crew during our visit. It is graphic and moving and very real. Please share this with others so they might be motivated to take action as well.

Magazine Print: ScubaDiving-SharkFin.pdf

Online Article & Video:

Raja Ampat – Misool Eco Resort

Posted in conservation, photography, production, travel, video with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2007 by shawnheinrichs

Trip update & photos: Justin Ebert

In early December, Shawn, Taro, and I had the opportunity to visit the site of the future Eco Misool Resort and meet with Andrew Miners.  Many of the infrastructural items that will make transport and resort living realistic are not yet in place.  Nonetheless it was very important to get a first view of the work being done to put things in place.  Our 2 primary goals were to review the land site and the diving.

We traveled from Singapore and eventually arrived in Sorong, West Papua.  Currently, there is no high speed transport to the island from the “mainland”.  Andrew is in the process of reworking a fast rescue boat that may be used for transport, but until that is in place, getting to the island takes around 14 hours or more.  In our case we were offered spots on a wooden ship that had been rented by Conservation International (CI).  CI has a strong presence in the area and is actively researching environmental programs (marine sanctuaries, etc.).  Helen (of CI)  had rented this boat to travel around Raja Ampat for a week and meet with villages to discuss future environmental programs.  Due to this important work, our journey actually took closer to 24 hours.  During this time we had the opportunity to meet with children in the villages and show them underwater videos on a laptop and educate them about the wonders in the ocean all around them.  Many Indonesians do not swim and have never seen the beauty of their reefs.  If we expect them to protect and steward their seas then they need to become emotionally connected and proud.  We received an amazing, excited response from everybody we met.  We decided this was something we would like to invest more in, perhaps having a small mobile theater and bringing snorkels and masks to villages to educate the children.

Upon arriving at the island, we took a brief tour.  Andrew has set up a temporary camp for the 15 local workers and 4 or so foreign workers who are currently building the resort and conservation center.  They are currently focused on the construction of the dive center and a beautiful stone path up and over the island.  Their goal is 25 year quality construction.  The dive center is a centerpiece of the resort – large natural construction with wide open views of the central bay.  The view from the oversized deck is simply stunning.  They are designing the building very artistically to merge with the natural rock of the island to form the back wall.  I am confident it will be of excellent quality.

The central bay is the primary focus of the resort.  It contains the dive center, restaurant, and all the rental cottages.  The premium investor cottages are located both out on the point of the bay (for better view, breeze, and privacy) as well as on the south beach (take the stone path to hike to the other side of the island).  They will be built over the water, right next to the wall of the front house reef.  This will give “roll out of bed and fall in” access to fantastic snorkeling and diving.

Now, for the diving!  The water in Raja Ampat is very warm and for the most part quite clear and blue.  Occasionally (as we experienced for 2 days in the middle of the trip) this rich plankton filled water can grow murky.  Without a doubt all of us experienced reef structures, color, and density we had only dreamed of.  The vibrancy of the coral is difficult to communicate – it’s a bit like a bright carnival of colors.  I only hope that the photos with this report can give you a rough idea.  Raja Ampat is exploding with soft and hard corals, but additionally we saw some of the largest schools of fish any of us had experienced.  Shawn best described the school sizes by comparing it to Galapagos, a world class site with typically low visibility and chillier water.  Andrew had just received his compressor and we were some of the first divers from the island.   The region is huge and stunningly unexplored.  Many of the boat dives we took were in location no-one had ever dived before.  We even went in search of (and located) and old WWII Japanese boat based on village rumors Andy had gathered over the years.  Unfortunately, although we found it, it had mostly been eaten by the sea.

As we all know, a major component of Eco Misool is centered on conservation.  In addition to the diving we had the opportunity to visit some turtle nesting beaches around Batbitim.  These nests have been under stress in the past as turtle eggs have been taken and sold on the market.  Now, with help from Andrew and Eco Misool these areas are being patrolled and protected.  In fact, Andrew has leased a turtle nesting island as a special turtle conservation area.  When we were diving we saw quite a few beautiful turtles underwater.  Hopefully with proper protection this number will grow dramatically.  The villagers say that a long time ago this region had so many turtles that you could walk on the backs of them across the ocean.  That would be a wonderful goal to restore.

Based on the diving we did, I am most excited by the miles and miles of untouched, unexplored islands and reef all around the resort.  Almost all of it is more impressive than anything I have seen to date.  The seas were almost perfectly calm.  Dolphins swim past every day.  There are schools of Tuna almost continuously feeding on the surface of the water.  What a paradise!

Images by Justin Ebert

Bali – Mola Madness

Posted in travel, video with tags , , , , , , , on September 10, 2006 by shawnheinrichs

The famous mola mola off the east coast of Bali had some how evaded me over the years. I had not even managed to catch a glimpse of this strange creature. As such, I decided to put an end to this streak.

The peak of Mola Mola season in Bali falls in September (and extends into October) when waters are at the coldest. In addition, peak viewing times coincide with lunar cycles. If you manage to time it just right (and nature cooperates) you will be in for a treat of a lifetime. As it turns out, we hit the nail on the head!

We spent several days in the crystal clear waters of Crystal Bay, Nusa Pendia (appropriately named) diving with these gentle giants. On each and every dive in the bay, we encountered between 3 and 5 Mola Mola. On one occasion, the largest of the group, measuring about 3 meters in span, allowed us to approach within inches. We spent several minutes shooting every possible angle, examining the tiny parasites crawling on its skin and being picked off by banner fish, and just appreciating the gentleness and beauty of these giant awkward fish.

These were some of the more memorable days in my diving experience. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being in such close and personal proximity to the giant mola mola. They were fully aware of our presence, yet seemed to understand that we meant them no harm. Perhaps this is why they allowed us to approach so closely and spend so much time with them. Or, perhaps they were just as curious about us, the strange, bubble bellowing, glassy-eyed fish!