Hello everyone. First, I would like to apologize for not updating for so long. Many things have happened in the past months that really changed my outlook in life. First, my father/uncle passed away last month. Dimentia is a horrible disease that robs people of memory. My father died complications from pneumonia which was caused by dimentia. It was really sad and the worse day of my life. Me and my aunt/mom held his hands as he went into eternal sleep. The decision to put him on morphine drip was the hardest decision. With all family members agreeing to stop the pain and suffering, the morphine would put my father into a comfortable state of sleep.
The next day the phone rang and the caller id said "hospital". My heart sank and my mom picked up the phone. Sure enough, my father had passed away. It was over. A week later, with all family around, I spread his ashes in the ocean. I'm sure he has reached his home country of Sweden by now. I have not gone back to Indo since, instead decided to stay and take care of my mom for awhile, or at least until she gets better. She will turn 83 this September and her health as deteriorated quite a bit from the heartaches of loosing her life partner.
With the passing of my father, I worry about mom. She always have been wanting grandchildren from me, and I have been putting off starting a family due to working overseas. But now things have changed, I have changed. From now on out, my priority is to take care of my mom and start a family. This means I will have to lessen my adventures, but not to worry as I will always be part of coral and fish export. This just means that I will have to rely on my guys over in Indo more than ever. I plan on setting up fish export from Bali when I return in September. Like corals, I will be focusing on making a difference in the quality of the fish and packing. My goal is to set a new standard in fish export, like I have with corals.
Ok enough of me talking about myself. Let's get in to our topic for the day, going to an island to check out corals! What people really don't understand is that just because you are in a big island like Bali or Java, the corals are nearby. Most of the time, the corals are actually being collected around small far out islands from the main island. Even from these small islands, the fishermen can travel for many hours on a boat to the collecting areas. Normally these areas are remote and away from tourists.
From this particular "large" island, I will be going to a nearby small island where fishermen collects corals. No fancy marinas or docks, have to climb down this wooden pier to get to the boat. Note the tire, it is used as a step to go up and down.
Always feel good getting on a boat, especially if it is to go fishing or checking out corals!
A small island about 10 minutes out from the harbor. I have decided not to mention this big island area as it would offend some people, my enemies that is:)
The tide was going out when we arrived on the little island. Check out the boats, no outriggers!
It was late in the afternoon when we arrived and sure enough the coral fishermen were starting to come in. Getting exciting!
This boat had four fishermen, three divers and one to make sure the compressor works and keep an eye on the boat.
Normally each boat comes back with one box of corals, sometimes two if they were collecting lots of one common species like euphyllias.
What a living, collecting corals everyday. Some of the fishermen catch groupers or lobsters instead of collecting corals during slow times when orders from suppliers decrease. Just so you know the suppliers buy from the fishermen and sell to the exporters. The paperwork to collect corals is allocated to the suppliers from the exporters. The suppliers give this paperwork to the fishermen. This same paper will be later be used by the exporters to make cites for export.
The fishermen can get in trouble by authorities if caught collecting illegally without proper paperwork. On this particular island, coral collection is heavily monitored. People sometimes think that one can just come to Indo and collect corals on their own. No matter where you are, if you don't have the proper paperwork, you can get in trouble. Sometimes I hear these yahoos living overseas (not Indo) talk like they are going to go to Indonesia and collect their own good corals - yah right! Another myth I would like to mention is that the Japanese have special buyers that buy direct from the fishermen as they come in from collection. That is why the Japanese have the best corals. I heard many stories like this before I went to Indo. Well, in the past three years that I have been there, the only Japanese that I have seen are tourists hanging out in Kuta Bali - and one super hot babe in a bikini taking surf lessons wow! The only one that goes out of his way to look for the better corals has been me!
Only one box for four fishermen doesn't sound much but there could be hundreds of corals!
Each one is bagged individually unless it is a small piece, then up to three pieces can be found in a bag.
The proud fishermen watch over as their precious cargo is sorted. They watch as the corals are counted and priced.
Some dead or dying corals are thrown aside. A certain percentage of the corals cannot even make the short trip back from collection.
It's like Christmas! You can imagine how exciting it must be. Bright orange fungia/cycloseris catches my eye instantly. The following pictures are taken without flash in plain daylight. The corals have extreme colors but cannot be seen, unless under aquarium lighting.
Nice symphyllia with multiple mouths!
A very stressed and deflated fromia starfish:(
A deepwater orange lobophyllia corymbose shaped.
Here is one of my signature corals, the unidentified acan lobos - an acanthastrea species that resembles a lobophyllia!
A little cynarina - a bit stressed with all the teeth showing.
Of course all the corals are stressed at this point in time. Nice green and red blastomussa anyone?
A cute little symphyllia. This one actually has some orange in it, just can't see it under regular daylight. Under proper lighting, you will see the true colors!
Golden green echinophyllia chalice - another one of my signature corals. When I say signature corals, I mean that I have made it popular and the demand has skyrocketed. Before I came along, this coral wouldn't even be collected - no one wanted it!
Another golden chalice, but this one has cool markings! Totally awesome under 20k's!
This is one of the reasons why I come out to check out corals from the fishermen direct. One of the reasons for me to come was to educate the fishermen about bleached corals. At the time, many corals were being collected that were severely bleached. I needed to tell them that the best chance the coral has to recover is to leave them in the ocean and not collect it. For sure no one will want this Acan lord and will die in some concrete holding tank. The problem is that the fishermen are very competitive. If they leave the coral because it is bleached, they are scared that someone else will come along and take it - thus loosing a potential sale. Of course the supplier has to stand firm and reject these unwanted pieces, but at the same time not to offend them, as the fishermen can go sell to other suppliers. But with me being there agreeing with the supplier, it does put more credibility to what is being said. You have to understand that I am kind of famous in these parts and the locals look up to me because they have made more money from my influence. I am in no way being arrogant, just telling the facts as it is.
A nice Acanthastrea echinata, some damage during collection but super color. The bluish streaks make this piece exceptional!
A green bubble coral (plerogyra), showing its large teeth.
Another nice Acan echinata. Sometimes these orange color morphs are called "orange crushes"!
A nice favia. These are known as Christmas favias due to the red and green colors.
A gorgeous little Blastomussa wellsi. Pretty much stressed right now but will open beautifully later. This one can pass as one of my ultra picks!
These green and red favias glow under actinics!
Another chalice species. Right now this pretty coral appears brown, but under proper lights, it is a knockout!
A red goniopora with purple centers. Hard to see the purple but it is there. Sometimes red goniopora with yellow centers will be found. The yellow centered versions are commonly found on another part of the main island. Can't say because I will get in trouble:)
A purple based green bubble anemone not looking too happy!
Bright green metallic yuma colony. This area boasts the best yumas in Indonesia!
A little wall hammer. These are notorious for bad shipping. For every piece that makes it, another one pays the price.
I run into many nice bullseye mushrooms from this region. The problem is that most of the time the rocks are encrusted with sponge. The sponge usually ends up dying and killing the mushrooms during shipping to Jakarta from the island.
Nice little pink/purple lobophyllia showing its spiky teeth!
This is another one of my signature corals, Acanthastrea rotundoflora. This one is especially cool, in that it has a green rim already!
Big brown heliofungia! Don't let the purple tips fool you, when this monster opens, it is brown city!
A yellow tip torch euphyllia. Many of these corals come bleached. If the polyps are light, then they are bleached, but if they are solid color, then it is not.
A nice Acan rotundo. These corals usually come in orange and green. Colors up nicely under low light halides!
This little guy is an Acanthastrea maxima - famously known as "eddie lobo" named after me!
For sure this guy is an acanthastrea. But what species? I call these Acan echinata lg heads. Pretty rare and sometimes the heads get really big like several inches in diameter. Note the little worm crawling out of the rock - I bet he's in shock!
A good sized blastomussa. I say good sized because normally the blastos come in with only a few heads. Finding a large sized one is nearly impossible.
This chalice is actually green with red eyes.
A large nicely shaped Acan echinata. The colors are super orange and green. Lately many of these corals have been coming in bleached as well. The fishermen tells me that the water temperature have gone up - global warming?
Nice branching deepwater lobophyllia. The colors are actually orange green, very nice. A bit stressed right now, it will take a few days to recover. The branching species tend to be more delicate than the corymbose or the normal shaped ones.
Heavily stressed, this nice blasto did not make it.
I love these type of chalices! There are these particular ones that has a large pink red mouth in the center. To top it off, the rim is a different color too - way cool!
Another "eddie lobo" - this maxima literally glows under actinics!
One of my favorite anemones, the merten's carpet. Normally these come in giant two feet across specimens. Very lucky and rare to find such a little one!
Assorted long tentacle doreensis anemones.
Little pizza carpet (Cryptodendrum Adhaesivum). I have exported super specimens that had multicolors that eventually sold for hundreds of dollars!
A killer blastomussa wellsi! This one did make it and someone lucky in this world has it in his/her tank!
So, this is the normal size for a blastomussa these days being collected.
Very strange purple pink with some green trachyphyllia.
Nice lobophyllia, must see under actinics to truly appreciate its color!
The "mummy eye" type chalice - another one of my signature corals from this area.
Golden green chalice. Surprisingly, this particular species of chalice (including the mummy eyes) are always found in small pieces. You never see these bigger than 5 or 6 inches, while the other species of echinos can be found 12 inches across!
I took this picture in the holding facility on the island. It was relatively dark in there and at close range with flash, the background turned all black. This beautiful coral is actually an acan rotundo. Strange that it has such a large central head (resembles a bowerbanki)!
This is one of the strange acan lobos I talked about before.
Cool little chalice with a green blue rim. Huge potential to become a nice piece! Note again the small size I was talking about.
One of the highlights of coming to this little island is food! Every time I come, the supplier has his wife cook up a feast of seafoods. Here she is grilling a fresh caught grouper!
The little kids are always looking at me trying to get my attention. They don't have too many people from the states coming to visit them. They always try to say hello and be nice. It probably helped that in the past I gave the little children money, equivalent to about a quarter each.
So after helping sort through hundreds of corals, it was dinner time. The sun was going down and the food looked amazing!
These are squid, some were grilled and some were fried. I liked the grilled ones better, less chewy. But I would take them either way, both ways are really good. Note the bowls of water. Indonesians like to eat with their fingers. The bowls of water come in handy to clean fingers after eating. My Filipino fish divers in Tonga ate the same way too.
Holy crap! This grilled grouper was insanely tasty! There was this light tangy vinegar like sauce that made the meet so good. Man, I'm drooling thinking about it right now!
The course included fried grouper as well.
Nothing can get better than this!
Some peanut like sauce for the fish and squid.
I was the last to finish. I actually ate the rest of that grilled fish - incredible! Note the three cups of tea and dessert at the end of the table - hey now!
Ok guys, that is it for today. It only took me 5 hours to do this post. I will be posting regularly from now on.
On this particular trip the weather was bad and the fishermen couldn't go out to the "good" collecting areas, so the corals were not as good. Oh well, next time...