27 February 2010

After days of grumbling about the weather, Yogi finally found his smile again. Max Ammer was bringing him along as co-pilot to his truly photogenic yellow aircraft.

Yogi smiling from ear to ear after days of overcast and rain

Yogi finally smiling from ear to ear. Finally sunny after overcast days with heavy rain

Conservation International needed to do regular surveys to Raja Ampat by land, sea and air. They were fortunate enough to have Max Ammer firmly situated in the area and is a trained pilot but with no aircraft. They asked Max what was best to do aerial surveys with and like a good soldier, he researched and found them this aircraft. He was given this yellow bird in exchange for airtime within the areas of the Four Kings. Three major conservation organizations share the all important conservation work in West Papua. The Nature Conservancy has project sites in Misool, South Raja Ampat, Conservation International has project sites in North Raja Ampat and the World Wide Fund for Nature has project sites in mainland Bird’s Head Peninsula.

Max fully concentrated in his responsibility as a pilot

Max fully concentrated in his responsibility as a pilot

Max explains the basic responsibilities of Yogi being the front seat passenger of this float plane

Max explains the basic responsibilities of Yogi being the front seat passenger of this float plane. Since all controls were in front, Yogi had to read the wind speed, rpm, and work the flaps when landing. Oh and he had to take pictures too!

Beautiful ultra-light float plane ready for take off. Hat, check. Goggles, check. Fuel, check. Camera, check. All set to fly the kingdom of the 4 kings

Beautiful ultra-light float plane ready for take off. Aviator flying caps, check. Goggles, check. Fuel, check. Camera, check.  The dynamic duo are set to fly the royal kingdom of the 4 kings!

Up, up and away they go.

Up, up and away.  They remind me of Dick Dastardly & Muttly in their flying machines! And I sing, “Stop that pigeon, stop that pigeon …”

Watch this classic Dick Dastardly & Muttly in Their Flying Machines

We have been diving and snorkeling these northern waters of Raja Ampat with Papua Diving for 3 weeks now, rain or shine. Legs and fins can only take you so far to see marine animals and their habitats. Up in the air, with a speed of about 50 to 65 knots, Yogi & Max saw everything. They saw a mother and calf dugong swimming in the blue and of course, the manta rays. They flew above the nearby divesites and islands in the periphery of where the resort boats took us during our day trips. It was a large area and still there were much more they couldn’t reach because of fuel limitations. But here are some amazing photographs of this magnificent kingdom of Raja Ampat.

The world famous Cape Kri where Gerry Allen found the most number of fish species in one dive area from in and out of the lagoon

The world famous Cape Kri where Dr. Gerry Allen found the most number of fish species in one dive area from in and out of the Sorido Bay Resort lagoon

Manta haven where they feed and get cleaned. Max has seen up to 50 to 70 mantas here at times

Manta haven where they feed and get cleaned. Max has seen up to 50 to 70 mantas here at times

From the air, you see the most amazing reef formations . . .

From the air, you see the most amazing reef formations . . .

There is only one entrance and exit to this meandering waterways called The Hidden Bay. The more you go into the bay, the greener the water got

There is only one entrance and exit to this meandering waterways called The Hidden Bay. The more you go into the bay, the greener the water got

A local Papuan village with blue coastal waters . . .

A local Papuan village with blue coastal waters . . .

A local Papuan village with very clear signs of coastal run offs and siltation

A local Papuan village with very clear signs of coastal run offs and siltation

These unique landscapes are the jewels treasured by these Kings

These unique landscapes are the jewels treasured by these Kings

And very quickly it was all over. It was time to land after an hour and a half flying time. Sigh.

And very quickly it was all over. It was time to land after an hour and a half flying time. I could hear Yogi sigh . . .

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