LOCATION: West Papua, Indonesia
STORY: I titled the image, Rush Hour, because it reminds me of the morning traffic on I-95 through Miami, on GA-400 through Atlanta, or pretty much anywhere else you can imagine. Slow pace, everyone moving in the same direction including that one guy who keeps swerving to cut people off, and occasionally one yahoo going the wrong way. But this school of sardines is not trying to get anywhere – they’re just taking shelter while resting. And they’re directly under the dock of the Misool Eco Resort. Circling around them are plenty of larger predators such as grouper, snapper, and black-tip reef sharks, but this is in very shallow water – the space between the coral and the surface is only about 2′ deep. Here, the sardines can be relaxed; still foraging on tine particulate & plankton, but much more sheltered by the structure of the dock than they would be out on the open reef.
I find it fascinating that all the coral in Rush Hour is younger than 15 years old. That’s because Misool Eco Resort built upon a site where people had been bomb fishing for decades. In doing so, the dead or stunned fish float to the surface, but the entire ecosystem in destroyed, and because the coral fragments are blown into tiny bits, they roll around with the current and surge, meaning a new coral larvae can never get foothold to grow there ever again. So Misool helps these areas recover by building a network of steel rebar supported by concrete. The baby coral larvae now have something stable to attach to, and rapidly grow to form a colony, creating a base for the next layer, and on and on it grows into what you see pictured here in a relatively short period of time since the water quality here is excellent. It just goes to show how nature can heal itself if we just stop our destructive tendencies and let it happen – sometimes with a little helping hand.
If you’re making a list of the dive spots with the most vibrant tropical reefs and the highest amount of biomass, Misool will pretty much always be right there at the top. Gorgonian sea fans are everywhere, and they are huge and healthy. Over and over, I return to this region, also known as Raja Ampat, and this photo explains why 2 1/2 days of travel to get there (each way!) is worth it. The founders of Misool Eco Resort (www.misool.info) created a destination in this underwater paradise several decades ago, and turned the site of a former shark & sea turtle poaching base camp into an off-the-beaten-path ecological marine sanctuary which now draws scuba divers from across the planet. And on several trips to Raja Ampat, I have used them as a base to explore what they call, “The World’s Richest Reefs”. Misool is also where I shot the images, Superfly, Birthday Cake, Mandarinfish Love, Millions, Pinkaboo, Confetti, Skyfall, and several others.
For printing, Rush Hour is very flexible for cropping away from it’s native ratio of 3:2 into thin 2:1 or 3:1 panoramic art, and even a 1:1 square, and is available in massive art sizes up to a maximum of 300″ wide. You can purchase this luxury wall art online in our standard sizes, but if you’d like to discuss a custom crop or size, please contact one of our design consultants at the art gallery.