Since 2006 Adriana Basques & Clark Miller have been visiting the BHS…despite concerns, they continue to return! Words by Clark, spectacular images…by both.
My first trip to BHS, more specifically, Raja Ampat was in 2006, not long after Gerald Allan had conducted his famous RAP (rapid assessment program) of the islands of West Papua. The excitement of having discovered the greatest diversity of hard corals and fish of anywhere in the world immediately placed Raja Ampat at the top of my priority to photograph, both above and below the water. Since then I have regularly traveled there for what I consider to be some of the finest diving in world. BHS has everything you can possibly ask for; from mantas and whale sharks to the most miniature of pigmy seahorses, and frog fish. Each voyage precipitates new and exciting subjects to photograph. The reefs are spectacular, and marine life continues to flourish with little sign of bleaching. Remarkable, considering how most coral reefs in other areas of the world have suffered dramatically from climate change.
Some areas of the BHS like Raja Ampat, become so popular throughout the world that now there are over a hundred liveaboards visiting the most popular dive sites. Many of the places I have been to previously have undergone serious changes, suffering due to overuse. The marine reserve in Misool does have restrictions and regulations; no gloves, dive time limits, and a one boat policy on the site, which needs to be strictly adhered to. That said, there continues to be far too many vessels that place undue stress on the marine environment, even within the reserve.
I will continue to visit BHS for the very reasons I went there in the first place, but will be more mindful of the sites for diving and photography. Furthermore, dive operators should become more vigilant, and consider exploring new areas to bring guests, rather than rely upon the old standard itineraries that will ultimately cause irreparable harm to the dive sites. There also needs to be greater governmental regulation regarding the number of vessels permitted to operate in any given season. BHS is a vast region of ocean, much of it still undiscovered. Adding many new dive sites can ultimately relieve the strain on the dozen or more sites everyone has been relying upon. Given that, we can be hopeful that it continues to flourish and provide world class diving through thoughtful management and conservation.
Administrators note: Adriana and Clark are world class photographers and very nice people . Many of you know their work. Although traveling constantly, they are always willing to share their image making with us. Everyone here thanks them. Enjoy a few more images from their most recent visit.