Reached Manado and met up with the rest of the crew yesterday afternoon - most I've met & dived with before, others are new faces. Poolside is always a good venue! NDC itself is quite a way out of town, no popping to the shops here.
With fifteen of us to contend with, we arranged ourselves over two boats this morning and with relatively low levels of confusion, set forth to Bunaken Marine Park. The camera housing had it's first test dunk in the pool, and (oh the temptation) had it's first dive as an empty case- just in case. All went well.
Dive 1 was just below 30m, with a strong cold current making itself felt at times. Quickly came to the conclusion that using an aluminum tank, and carrying a float (camera housing), one more weight was in order for future dives.
The site has plentiful wildlife and is clearly undergoing a coral regeneration program, with steel structures here and there bearing coral transplants. They look a bit like mines, so a quick double-take...... Beside the empty giant clam shells we found a moray eel, later there were sea cucumbers, stonefish, some very pretty miniature crayfish, live clams and more.
After lunch and a visit to Bunaken Island, the second dive was a drift along a coral wall - the camera came on this one. An absolutely awesome drop, no idea how deep it goes, we held it to 25m. First sight on descent was a turtle, and much more. Missed quite a bit looking at the camera, resetting things in the hope of getting some memory back as the 4Gb card called itself full after 20 shots! Salvaged some space, back to the dive..... Drifting makes the business of learning to take photos quite frustrating, as it's so hard to keep still! The current along the wall is quite strong, you are working to hold a position, let alone get back to where you were.
A group of happy campers assembled poolside upon return, time to start downloading and looking at photos. I can tell I'm on L- plates with this setup! Further checking has suggested the card was a dud, the replacement one shows room for 900 pics based on the same settings so tomorrow, here I come :)