Welcome to Indopacificimages, the personal website of Bali based Australian underwater photographer and photojournalist Don Silcock. Please note, there is nothing for sale and no adverts on this site… It’s simply Don sharing his experiences and images from his extensive travels. You can either scroll down to see the latest posts, articles and location guides or use the menu bar above to check out all the locations listed.
Big Animals – The Florida Manatees of Crystal River
The small town of Crystal River in Citrus County on the “Nature Coast” of Florida is without doubt the best place in North America to see and, if you are really lucky, briefly interact with the very special and quite unique Florida Manatee.
Scuba Diver magazine recently asked me to do a regular feature on diving with and photographing Big Animals. So I thought I would start with the Florida Manatee as it was my experience with them on my trips to Crystal River that got me hooked!
You can use this link to read the article and download a PDF copy: The Florida Manatees of Crystal River.
Diving Tubbataha - The Heart of the Coral Triangle
Yes, I know… it sounds like hype designed to get you to sign up for an expensive trip. Which is what I did – twice over in fact, as one seven-day trip to Tubbataha just did not seem long enough. But I was surprised, infact really surprised, by what I saw there!
Incredible reefs that pulsed with life, amazing biodiversity and excellent measures in place to keep it like that. It all seemed almost out of place, after all, this is the Philippines, a country with form… But that was what I saw!
I was intrigued by it all and wanted to understand the backstory. Again, I was impressed by what I learned and wanted to document it all – starting with this story and article on diving Tubbataha.
The Ten Best Big Animal Experiences
There really is something quite unique about an eyeball-to-eyeball underwater encounter with a big animal. You are after all but a temporary visitor to their domain… One they may not be the absolute master of, but are far more in control than you can ever hope to be. So, the first thing to understand is that the encounter will take place on the animals’ terms.
Scuba Diver ANZ have published a five-page article of mine on the Ten Best Big Animal Experiences globally. You can check out the article and download a copy using the link.
Iconic Australian Diving
Every winter tens of thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish gather in an area of about 1km² on the western side of South Australia’s Spencer Gulf in the only known “dense aggregation” of these amazing creatures.
It has been called the “the premier marine attraction on the planet”. And it is certainly unique… Where else can you shore-dive in less than 8m of water with so many incredibly photogenic creatures all completely focused on one single thing – sexual reproduction?
Sepia apama, is the world largest cuttlefish. And when fully-grown can reach up to half a metre in total length and weigh in at up to 11kg
Truly fascinating creatures with an incredible ability to instantaneously change their colour and skin texture
Check out this link to understand more about the amazing Giant Australian Cuttlefish…
The Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias is one of the ocean’s most magnificent creatures. Superbly evolved, they are truly an apex predator. But, unlike their terrestrial equivalents, there is very little reverence for them.
Instead, and they have become widely demonized as brutal man-eaters that silently prowl our coastal waters. In a seemingly perpetual search for victims and then pouncing with ruthless and terrifying efficiency.
And it is true that great whites have been held responsible for more deaths of swimmers, surfers, and divers than any other shark. But what is the reality about these creatures?
Are they really what the tabloid media have made them, or are they just greatly misunderstood?
Check out this link to understand more about the Great White Shark – Down Under…
Carcharias taurus… Grey Nurse sharks are large enough to get your complete and undivided attention. A big and fierce looking animal, with prominent sharp teeth, they move through the water in a slow but determined manner.
Creating a real presence – one that can also appear to be physically intimidating… And is almost guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of the uninitiated observer.
Known as the Ragged Tooth Shark in South Africa and Sand Tigers in the USA. Grey Nurse Sharks in Australia are now fully protected, but are classified as critically endangered on the east coast.
How the Grey Nurse went from being a very common shark to the very brink of extinction is an incredibly sad story.
Check out this link to the Australian Grey Nurse shark to read more…
Located about 100km south Adelaide, Rapid Bay is probably the most popular shore dive in South Australia! With it’s convenient location, sheltered position and great marine life – it is hard to beat.
Particularly so given the excellent chances of seeing the wonderful Australian leafy seadragon while underwater there!
There is a much to see underwater on the jetty… And it’s easy to burn all your air with the leafy’s (tempting as it is) and miss out on all the other stuff!
The pylons of the old jetty are testament to the rich seasonal upwellings created by the Leeuwin and Flinders Currents of southern Australia. While they lack the incredible density and almost biblical scale of those on Edithburgh jetty, across the Gulf of St Vincent, Rapid’s pylons have much to see.
Check out the full story on this excellent location with this link to Diving Rapid Bay Jetty…
Located on the south-eastern tip of the Yorke Peninsula. The small town of Edithburgh is home to what is possibly the absolute best of all the many wonderful jetties of South Australia.
Dived on a good day with optimal conditions, it is a stellar dive and ranks highly among the “must do” dives in Australia!
The jetty’s pylons, together with its wide and low structure have allowed temperate water corals, sponges and ascidians to thrive on an almost biblical scale. Plus Edithburgh is also a great place to see some of South Australia’s iconic species.
The picturesque town of Nelson Bay has a well deserved reputation for some of the very best shore diving in New South Wales. And it is true that a couple of its dive sites are truly excellent!
With a wonderful selection of critters and some spectacular sponge gardens, they offer interesting diving and photogenic subject matter for both macro and wide-angle underwater photographers.
The key to understanding both the incredible biodiversity of Nelson Bay and how to dive there is the underwater topography of Port Stephens and the powerful tidal flows that surge in to it.
You can read about both of them and the great dives sites with this link to Diving Nelson Bay…
Scuba Diver ANZ - Papua New Guinea Article Series
Diving in Papua New Guinea… At the closest point of contact just 6km separates Australia from PNG. And yet there is so much that is incredibly different between these two close neighbours!
Australia is a first-world country with generally excellent health, education and social systems, a robust and fully functional democracy together with an average life expectancy of 83 years.
PNG on the other hand is very much a third-world country. Which has major issues with its health and education systems, an operating but troubled democracy and an average life expectancy of just 64 years.
So… why even go there? Well, the answer to that question lays in those very differences plus the amazing topography, the unique cultures and the incredible biodiversity of Papua New Guinea – Read more…
When the 16th century Portuguese and Spanish explorers forst arrived in this part of the Malay Archipelago. They had no way of knowing they had stumbled upon the second largest island in the world.
Neither could they possibly know that the island is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Occupying just 0.5% of the Earth’s surface, but with almost 10% of its species … And that is just on the land!
New Guinea island sits at the very heart of the Coral Triangle. With two of the most well-known global diving locations at its extremities… Raja Ampat on the western tip and Milne Bay on the eastern tip.
Numerous other marine biodiversity hot spots have been found around the vast coastline of New Guinea. But the sheer remoteness of it all means there must be many others just waiting to be discovered – Read more…
Papua New Guinea’s “second island” sits right on the interface of some incredibly powerful forces of nature and is physically located along the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire.
New Britain is a large crescent shaped island that is defined by the incredibly high mountain ranges that run down its spine. Together with its many volcanoes…
So high are those mountains, they create separate and independent weather systems on the north and south coasts of the island. Making New Britain a remote, different and very interesting place that has some really great diving!
From a biodiversity perspective, it has one of the best possible locations, just south of the equator and to the east of the “mainland” it in the epicentre of the eastern lobe of the Coral Triangle… – Read more…
Located along the edge of the Bismarck Archipelago and bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Bismarc Sea to the east, the province of New Ireland forms the eastern flank of Papua New Guinea.
New Ireland Province is quite remote from the main island of New Guinea and has its own remarkably interesting and quite distinct traditional cultures, together with some really fantastic diving.
The province consists of the large, musket-shaped island of New Ireland, which is also known as Latangai. Together with numerous other smaller islands – the largest of which is New Hanover.
The diving in is centred around Kavieng, the main town and regional capital and also has its own distinct flavour, compared to the other main locations in PNG like Milne Bay and Kimbe Bay – Read more…
Diving Socorro - Mexico's Galapagos
Diving Socorro – a true “bucket list” adventure if ever there was one! This group of four islands is located in the Pacific Ocean, some 600 kms from the west coast of Mexico. And it offers some quite unique underwater experiences and is almost synonymous with giant oceanic manta ray encounters.
Often referred to as the “Mexican Galapagos” these islands are so special that in July 2016 they were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then in November 2017 the government of Mexico created North America’s largest marine protected area. And made the whole area a national park with total bans on fishing, mining and tourism development.
Check out the full story on Diving Socorro – Mexico’s Galapagos…
Tiger Beach - Petting Zoo or the Real Deal?
This shallow, sandy area in the Bahamas is firmly established as one of the global diving destinations. With that fame largely derived from the many published images of its most celebrated visitor – Galeocerdo cuvier, the tiger shark.
Tigers are considered one of the “big three” most dangerous sharks. And, together with great whites and bull sharks are believed to be responsible for the vast majority of unprovoked attacks on humans. So, how is it possible for do many divers to be in open water with so many of these sharks?
Check out the full story in the Tiger Beach – Petting Zoo or the Real Deal article…
The Humpback Whales of Tonga
Tonga is probably the best place in the world to experience the “gentle giants of the sea” – the incredible humpback whale. Because every southern winter, around the start of August, the Tongan Tribe of southern hemisphere humpbacks arrive from the Antarctic.
And spend the next few months in the Tongan archipelago either mating or giving birth…
Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you are allowed in the water with the whales. And it is possible to experience the full gamut of humpback encounters there. It really is incredible and is very popular with people traveling great distances to experience it all.
But it can be complicated to actually get in the water… So I have put together a guide to help understand what can be seen and what the logistics are. Follow this link to go to Indopacificimages’ Complete Guide to the Humpback Whales of Tonga.
Big Animal Articles
Posted below are some of the articles I have had published over the last couple of years. I try very hard to write accurate and informative articles and only use images that were taken on the trip – so what you see is what I saw when I was at the location.
All the articles are available as a free download by clicking on the link provided. But please respect my copyright…
Every year, as the summer heat descends on the Yucatan an amazing phenomenon happens to the north-east of Isla Mujeres.
It is called the Afuera, the largest gathering of giant whale sharks in the world – Read more…
Often referred to as the Oriental Galapagos, the Ogasawara archipelago is located in the north-west Pacific Ocean.
About 1000km south of Tokyo the islands are one of the most isolated areas of Japan – Read more…
Underwater encounters with big animals are rarely if ever static. They move, often constantly and occasionally very fast!
Whereas American crocodiles remain still, with a coiled-up energy ready to attack – Read more…
As recently as the 1960’s Oceanics were considered one of the most abundant large animals in the world.
And just 50 years later, they are now on the IUCN Red List as “Vulnerable” globally – Read more…
Giant Japanese Salamanders are quite unique creatures that live in the rivers of west and south-west Japan.
They are indeed quite large – reaching up to 1.5m in length and around 25kg in weight – Read more…
The Complete Guide to PNG
Papua New Guinea enjoys a reputation for some of the best all-round scuba diving to be had anywhere. And truly, its combination of superb reefs, wonderful critter sites and WWII wrecks make it very hard to beat.
Simply stated, the scuba diving in Papua New Guinea is among the very best in the world. And the country is truly one of the last frontiers – a wild and adventurous place that just has so much to see both above and below the water!
But it’s not the easiest place to get to. And, no doubt you will have heard all sorts of stories… Is it safe to go there? Where to go? When to go and how to get there? So I have put together this “complete guide” to understand more about Papua New Guinea and where to dive.
There are comprehensive sections providing an overview of the diving in PNG and why it is good. Plus sections on each major location – Port Moresby, Milne Bay, Tufi, Kimbe Bay and New Ireland. And… a Papua New Guinea Survival Guide to help you better understand the country, the people, the culture and the risks!
Start here with Indopacificimages’ Complete Guide to Diving Papua New Guinea.
The Sharks of Protea Banks
Located some 8km offshore from the seaside town of Margate, about 130km south of Durban, the Protea Banks is one of the best places on the east coast of South Africa to dive with sharks. And. depending on the time of the year, you can see up to seven different varieties of them!
The Protea Banks is adventurous diving with most dives at around 30m and strong currents to deal with, so it is not for everybody… But if you like your diving and underwater photography at full volume then the Protea Banks offers some tremendous experiences!
Check out this link to the Indopacificimages Complete Guide to Diving Protea Banks for more information on one of the most exciting locations in South Africa.
Diving in Southern Mozambique is concentrated around the small town of Praia Do Tofo (Tofo Beach…). Which, in turn, is located around a very picturesque curved beach, some 16 km from the provincial capital of Inhambane.
Tofo owes its amazing biodiversity to its location at the southern end of the 1600 km long Mozambique Channel, between the east coast of Mozambique and the large island of Madagascar.
Check out this link to the Complete Guide to diving Tofo in Southern Mozambique for more information on this interesting location.