The astonishing diversity of Papua New Guinea’s scuba diving is due in large part to its unique location at the meeting point of the Bismarck, Coral and Solomon Seas. Consequently, creatures from three distinct environments come together in Papua New Guinean waters, resulting in an incredible variety of marine life. Boasting twice as many fish species as the Red Sea, and ten times as many coral species as the Caribbean, Papua New Guinea’s underwater world consists of 52,000 square kilometers of reef systems and is truly a place like no other. Deep water channels create sheer coral walls within easy…

Mantis shrimp, particularly the more colorful varieties like the peacock mantis, are popular subjects for underwater photographers and are welcome sights on dives throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Usually seen in rock crevices or in the burrows that they create for themselves in the sea bed, mantis shrimp are exceptionally territorial. They are relatively small crustaceans, with the largest of the 400 species currently known only measuring around twelve inches in length. However, the mantis shrimp’s small size is by no means reflective of its identity both as a lethal predator and as one of the most fascinating of…

There are so many wondrous things about scuba diving in the Galapagos that it’s hard to pick highlights. The remote archipelago is uniquely positioned at the point where the frigid Humboldt Current clashes with the warm waters of the Equator; as a result, each island is its own microcosm, and each one differs hugely from the next. It is possible in the Galapagos to dive with penguins one morning, and schooling hammerheads the next; it is a world of extremes where strange creatures found nowhere else in the world rule by day and at night the stars of both hemispheres…

Last Friday, spectators onboard a whale-watching vessel in Canada’s Strait of Georgia witnessed the homecoming of the world’s oldest known orca. Affectionately known as Granny, the whale is estimated by the Center for Whale Research to have been born in 1911, making her a staggering 103 years old. Granny is the matriarch of the J-pod, one of three pods that make up the southern resident group of orcas that reside predominantly in Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and San Juan de Fuca during the summer, and head into open ocean during the winter. When she was spotted last week…

Sandtiger sharks are an aquarium favorite thanks to their ferocious appearance; with rows of crooked teeth and eyes of glinting gold, they certainly fulfill our expectations of the ocean’s most famous apex predator. Also known variously as ragged-tooth or grey nurse sharks, these animals are even more impressive in their natural environment, and those that have gone scuba diving in South Africa, Australia or the eastern coast of the United States may have been lucky enough to encounter them in the wild. Despite their fearsome façade, sandtigers are rarely aggressive towards humans, and can be seen in aggregations numbering tens…

From the Philippines to Micronesia, lionfish are a common sight throughout the Indo-Pacific, where their delicate beauty and charismatic nature have made them firm favorites for divers and underwater photographers alike. There are ten species of lionfish, most of which originate in either the Indian or Pacific oceans. Although each species varies slightly in size, coloration and appearance, all of them have several characteristics in common. These include fan-like pectoral and dorsal fins, bodies adorned with bands of vivid color, and highly venomous spines. As is often the case in Nature, a lionfish’s mesmerizing beauty serves as a warning of…

At the beginning of this year, I travelled to Kota Kinabalu, a town in Borneo’s Sabah province that lies in the shadow of one of South East Asia’s highest mountains and boasts some beautiful diving just offshore. Because Borneo diving is typically defined by the world-class sites of Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai, Kota Kinabalu’s underwater gems are often overlooked by international dive tourists. However, I soon found that they were exciting enough to make me temporarily abandon the open road and apply for work there as a dive instructor. I was fortunate enough to spend two months exploring the area’s…

When I arrived in Denpasar at the end of last year, my expectations for diving Indonesia were huge- both metaphorically and literally. All of the dive sites on my Indonesian wish list focused on big creatures and impressive wrecks, from the mantas of the Komodo National Park to the final resting place of the US Liberty, an American cargo ship off Tulamben, Bali. Although I knew that the 13,466 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago were also famous for their macro life, I wasn’t particularly interested- as a lifelong addict to the thrill of diving with big sharks, big…