Well, in the air again, really. In less than two weeks I'll be leaving tropical Australia for tropical Papua New Guinea. I've made mention of it a few times, but I don't think I've given any details.
Andy's honours project is on "The feeding behaviour of tubelip wrasse in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea". Therefore, he gets to go to Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. His supervisor is paying for it with some grant money, and part of the funding is for a research assistant. So, despite the fact that I barely know how to dive, and I know even less about marine biology, he's taking me. I will just be recording the number of bites taken by different fish on corals, and following them around to determine their territory size. More often, I think I'll be inputting data into the computer, and doing things like cooking nummy food when Andy is out diving (he reckons I'll get bored, so I don't have to go out every day if I don't want to). The trip goes from October 11 to December 10. Two months of hiding out in the jungle isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think I'm going to love it.
Kimbe is located on the north side of West New Britain Island, which is just off the main island of Papua. This map is from this website, which also has a lot to say about West New Britain in general, and Kimbe if you follow some links. This site is good, too. According to the websites and Andy, who spent two months there earlier this year, it is an amazing little town. Palm oil is the biggest industry, as well as dive tourism. About 40 minutes drive from the airport, we'll be staying at the Walindi Plantation Resort. Walindi is a dive resort, and the owner has set up a bit of a conservation centre/research station. James Cook University has its own accommodation within that research station, so we'll be staying there. The accommodation is a 3 bedroom house, and I think we have to share with another researcher for the first month, but after that we're on our own. It's pretty remote; phone calls are expensive and the very slow internet (at the resort, 1 km from the house) only works when it's sunny out.
We'll be diving about 6 days a week over there. (Andy will be. We'll see how often I go out.) We get our own banana boat, with a local boat driver who knows where all the reefs are. When we're not watching fish eat coral, we can go to the markets (there will be so much fresh produce!), get a guide to take us to the top of a volcano, visit some hotsprings, or just lounge on the beach. We won't have much free time, because the days go from about 7 am to 5 pm, but hopefully we'll get to see a few of the local sights. It seems silly to go all the way there and not do anything besides dive.
Although, apparently the diving is some of the best in the world. Part of what makes it so good is its proximity to the shore. Rather than spending 4 hours on a boat, the way you do to get to the Great Barrier Reef, you're at amazing reefs in a short little 20 minute boat trip. There are volcanic caves, a steep drop-off, wrecks from WWII, and every other kind of diving possible on a reef, I think. We should be over there during the coral spawning, so we're hoping to get out for a night dive to see that. Andy says it's really cool, and it only happens once a year, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
So, even thought tubelip wrasse aren't the most colorful fish, it should be a good trip. I'm pretty sure I won't be blogging at all while I'm gone, but don't forget about me! I'll be sure to post a good update when I get back, with cool underwater photos and stuff. Plus, I'll be around for the next week.