UNDER THE SEA 3D
Expeditions One And Two: Papua New Guinea
Production Journal: April 4, 2008. Today we really got lucky. I think we
captured our best sequence so far—after nearly breaking all records for bottom
time. It's been a long day. This morning we took t he camera into the Mangroves.
Sky was overcast. We need sun to shoot in the Mangroves but wanted to get in
there and practice our camera moves when disturbing the bottom would not be an
issue. As we were swimming back to the boat someone yelled down to us that
Digger had found three Flamboyant Cuttlefish and that they were mating. We
immediately donned re-breathers and were back in the water in five minutes. I
climbed out 5.75 hours later.
Howard and his crew began their undersea exploration in January 2008 with the
first of two separate visits to the islands of Papua New Guinea in the Southwestern Pacific
Ocean. It is an area known for its beautifully lush coral reefs and the remarkable
biodiversity of creatures that make the reefs their home.
Their first stop was Rabaul, on the island of New Britain. But, en route, they
received word that a volcano was erupting on that exact spot, forcing them to adjust their
agenda from day #1. Noting that their trip to Mexico for "Deep Sea 3Dā had included an
unscheduled greeting from Hurricane Javier, Howard took the blast in stride and captured
the serendipitous volcanic action as their boat retreated from the island.
"The good news is that the film now includes footage of the eruption and a hail of
ash,ā says Michele.
Instead, the crew decamped to nearby Linden Harbor, on New Britain's south
coast. There, 15 days of diving, with Howard and his crew logging nearly 80 hours
underwater in the largely unexplored reefs, yielded excellent exposure to a variety of rarely
seen animals. Among them were a large Crown Jellyfish; a Wonderpus Octopus; and a
new species of Lionfish, discovered only two years ago in Indonesia, happily feeding on
smaller fish amidst the coral while the camera rolled.
Howard observed and filmed a devoted Frogfish couple courting; found an
aggressive Tiger Mantis Shrimp—a species twice the size of its California cousins—
spearing its dinner and quarreling with a Cardinalfish; and captured footage of an aptly
named Crocodile Fish lunging directly at his lens in pursuit of an agile Blue Chromis (that
got away), an action that is especially striking in 3D. During the second Papua New
Guinea trip, to Milne Bay this time, he recorded a blue-spotted Stingray vigorously
burying itself in the sand, and a rare glimpse of an Epaulette Shark, "a small shark that
walks on the ocean floor using its fins,ā found only in the Milne Bay area.
But the highlight of that trip was the discovery of two small male Flamboyant
Cuttlefish courting a female. Says Howard, "It's a very romantic dance. No one on board
had ever seen a female of this species so large and never witnessed their courtship. To say
that the cuttlefish colors are brilliant is an understatement; they are constantly changing.ā
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