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Diving the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Nesting Protection Program...
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Large Schools of Fish in North Fakarava
Baby Sharks in Toau
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Sunday, September 04, 2016

Diving the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben

I had just one day of diving in Bali, because my trip to Komodo starts the next day. So on Saturday I walked into the first dive shop I found on the internet and asked if they had anything planned. The only option was Tulamben. Even though I had been there two times before (in 2006 and in 2011) and it meant a 2.5 hours transfer each way, I signed up.

Later when I checked my downloaded Caches, I was extremely happy to see there was a diving Multi-Geocache!

Our first dive was at the wreck and even though it looked like there were dozens to hundreds divers around, we found a lucky timeslot, where we were almost alone in the water. The wreck seemed to have fallen in quite a lot since the last time I was here, but since I can't find any picture evidence for this, it might just be a trick of my mind. What was fun though, was that the one huge Barracuda, which was there the last two times, still hangs around the wreck :)


Our second dive was at the drop off, where we spotted a Harlekin Ghostpipefish, a large Spanish Mackerel and much more.


After the dive we had a break, which I used to walk to the final of the Geocache and I was able to claim my third geocache in Indonesia :).

The last dive of the day took us from the wreck along the house reef to the coral garden. The fish live was surprisingly varied. Highlight was a stingray at a cleaning station. 


In addition there were a lot of man-made installations which should help the reef grow. The one I remember most, a skeleton that looked like a plane was still there, although it lost its wings.

The plane in 2011
The plane in 2016

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Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Nesting Protection Program in Kuta, Bali

While strolling along the beach in Kuta, Bali, I noticed a huge Sea Turtle statue. Coming closer I saw a large fenced in area with many signs inside. This was the location of the Bali Sea Turtle Society.

They have a large number of volunteer rangers that patrol the beach while the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles come in to lay their eggs. Once the eggs are safely buried and  the turtle is on its way back to the Sea, they take measurements and tag the turtle, so that they can check how often it returns in following years. Afterwards they take the eggs and bring it to a safe location in or next to the huge Turtle pictured above. Their they have people guarding the location 24/7 to ensure that the eggs aren't stolen or eaten by natural predators.

Once the eggs hatch, they release the baby turtles back into the Sea. This is done as an event, where tourists can take a turtle in a small plastic bin, bring it closer to the shore and then all are released together. This is for one good for the turtles, because due to the large number of people, the birds, the natural predators at this stage, stay away. In addition it is good for public relations reasons, helping to spread the word that the turtles need protection.

 One baby turtle on its way to the Sea

 Some turtles are quicker than others


There they go! Even though only a few of them will survive, they at least stand a chance to grow up.

More information about this project can be found here.

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Saturday, September 03, 2016

Movies on a Plane

Flying with Singapore Airlines from Zurich to Singapore in the new and comfortable A380, I was at first overwhelmed by the entertainment choice options (90 new movies were added in September alone). In the end I did spend way more time watching movies than sleeping ;). I saw:
  1. Hail Cesar! (An entertaining comedy, but I expected a bit more)
  2. Allegiant (an okay ending to the Divergent-Trillogy)
  3. Now You See me (a wonderful smoke-and-mirrors drama about magicians in the modern age.)
  4. April and the Wonderful World (A French Steampunk Anime, worth watching!)
  5. Deadpool (Just amazing. The intro sets the tone and keeps the humor rolling till the end. I'm looking forward to the sequel).

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Board Game Weekend

I spent the weekend in Tösstal playing board games. Over three days I played 24 different games, 22 of which I hadn't played before :).

It would be too much to list them all, but I'll name my favorite new discoveries:
  • The Bloody Inn: We play a member of a greedy family owing a small inn in rural France in the 19th century. We don't really care about the well-being of our patrons, but rather only about our full coffers. To achieve this we can recruit the patrons and take them into our hand, from there we can play them in our play area using them as buildings which give us immediate or continued benefits. The most money, however, can be made by killing the patrons and burying them under one of our buildings, because then we can empty their purse. But watch out for police officers among the guests, they may confiscate the body...
    The play mechanism is really intriguing (and well known to Race for the Galaxy Fans), all actions have to be payed with cards from our hands, however, if the card has the correct color we get a discount. All our games ended up really close and we had great fun!
  • Nippon: We play a member of an influential conglomerate in Japan during the Meji period. We try to grow our influence by building factories, railroads and ships, producing goods and shipping them both to the local and foreign markets.
    This was the most complex game we played this weekend and with our initial three hours playing time it might seem overwhelming, but nevertheless time went by very fast with quick turns and many interesting decisions to take. I'm looking forward to another round soon!
  • Potion Explosion: We are apprentice wizards taking our final exam in potion brewing. In order to pass we need to brew a number of potions with the available ingredients. The more efficient we achieve this the more points can be earned and at the end of the day there is only Student of the Year Award!
    The ingredients are represented by small marbles placed in a dispenser with five rows. As our turn we can take one marble out of the dispenser, if this leads to an explosion (at least two ingredients of the same color smash together) we can take them as well (and so on until all marbles are gone or no more explosions happen). The gained ingredients need to be placed in our cauldrons in which we brew the potions. Once a potion is finished it can be drunk to gain a one-time advantage (which ranges from taking more ingredients from the dispenser, to stealing ingredients from our class mates). Once all bonuses are collected the game ends and everyone counts up the value of their potions.
    A very easy to learn and play game, which is delivered with fantastic components and a cool experience. It feels a bit like a cellphone game ported to a board game, but it works wonderfully.
  • Lanterns - The Harvest Festival: To celebrate the end of autumn harvest we want to gain honor by dedicating combinations of lanterns. Every player has square tiles in hand showing up to four different colors on each side. Once a tile is placed every player gains a lantern of the color pointing in his direction. The trick is to connect identical colors to gain additional lanterns.
    A very easy to learn game with lots of depth and different strategies.
  • Celestia: We play an adventurer who takes part in explorations in an aircraft. The farther we can travel the higher the possible rewards. The clue is that everyone is in the same aircraft and the place of captain is taken in turns. The captain rolls a number of dice showing different symbols. Every player has to decide if the captain can weather the crisis by playing matching cards, or abandon ship (taking the current reward). If the captain manages the difficulties travel continues and the next player takes the helm. If the captain fails the airship crashes and no-one on board receives anything.
    A wonderful little game with superb components (featuring a three-dimensional aircraft in which the player tokens have a place and beautifully illustrated cards) and great replay value. A definite recommendation!
  • Quadropolis: We are a city planner trying to build the best city, but we have to compete with the other planners for the available buildings and institutions. Every building is scored differently at the end, but only if it can be activated with the needed energy or people. Thus a fierce competition breaks out.
    For a city-building game Quadropolis works very smoothly and can be quickly explained and played. The included expert mode promises more strategic choices, for those who can build cities in their sleep. The package is rounded up by functional, colorful and pleasing illustrations and components (the people are actually small people). A definite addition to my game collection.
I had a great time and want to thank Cäsi, the organizer, and everyone who was there and played games! I'll be back next year! :)

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Monday, February 08, 2016

French Polynesia 2016 Summary

I had a fantastic time in French Polynesia.

In this post I want to collect all the links with information and pictures from this trip

The first part took place in Tahiti, where we stayed in a nice hotel
 The second part was the main feature, a 15-day liveaboard trip with the Aqua Tiki II starting in Raroia and ending in Fakarava
Thanks for everyone on the trip for making it such a memorable experience!

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Sunday, February 07, 2016

The long way home...

It was clear from the beginning that traveling home from the other end would take some time.
However, we had a good connection worked out, leaving Fakarava Friday afternoon (local time) and arriving Sunday afternoon in Zürich.

However, this wasn't meant to be. One day before departure we received the bad news, that our plane from Tahiti to Paris was delayed 11 hours, which first of all meant one overnight stay in Tahiti and then another night in Paris...

In Tahiti were treated very kindly by the Air Tahiti Nui staff and after a short discussion sent out to a luxurious hotel. Luckily, there was a great dinner with a local show waiting for us.

Our journey continued Saturday morning after an extensive breakfast.
On the plane to Los Angeles, I wasn't very tired, so I watched The Man from U.N.C.L.E, a very funny spy comedy set in Berlin in the 50s.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Large Schools of Fish in North Fakarava

We first returned to Rotoava, the main city of the Fakarava Atoll located all the way in the North, to rendezvous with the supply Ship Cobia 3. There the captain refueled the ship. Funnily enough, we encountered a young German journalist, who is traveling the world and currently spends one week as a guest on the Cobia 3. Strange to meet other German speakers on the other side of the planet.

We then headed a bit closer to Garuae Pass, with 1'600 meters the widest pass in French Polynesia. During the first two dives we were overwhelmed again by the number of Sharks present. And contrary to the South Pass, they didn't focus in one wall, but were everywhere! Up, down, left, right, in front and behind us! Unfortunately, the visibility wasn't too good, so it was difficult to capture this experience on photos.

The dive profile in Garuae Pass was interesting. After our first descent to 25 to 30 meters at the edge of the channel, we went with the current into the Channel up to 10 meters, after several minutes we descended again to a depression called Ali Baba, where we encountered huge schools of Soldierfish and Paddletail Snappers.

This was the perfect end to our diving trip in French Polynesia!

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Baby Sharks in Toau

After a short pitstop in North Fakarava for supplies we headed further West towards Toau, a small atoll which features two passes located close together.

The larger Otugi pass features lots of Sharks joined by huge Dogtooth Tunas, some of which are bigger than the Grey Reef Sharks! After several stops along the reef the time came to fly. We ascended into the channel where we were picked up by the current, which for once was so strong, that it was possible to do loop-the-loops and other acrobatics with ease.

At the smaller Fakatahuna pass we always dived on the outer reef, where we encountered a large school of tiny juvenile Grey Reef Sharks. That was a real highlight! The small Sharks behaved like the adults but were so cute! After about twenty minutes at the corner of the pass with the sharks we headed back over the reef which also had a lot to offer. Hundreds of different fish as well as a lot of intact coral.

Between the dives we made two visits to the uninhabited islands, there we encountered in a sheltered pool of water a small number of tiny Blacktip Reef Sharks. They were so cute! They stayed in the shallows and it was brilliant to see their small fins cut through the water surface.

During our second island visit we also encountered an Octopus near the shore, which at first shied away from us and thus showed us a colorful spectacle.

After three days it was time to say goodbye to this fascinating corner to head back to North Fakarava for the two last days of diving.

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