A local diver prepares his hand crafted spear to target surgeonfish. The rich and productive volcanic soils adjacent to the bay, consistent rainfall, and local belief that there are evil spirits beyond the first reefs have restricted the local fishing pressure on the Kimbe Bay reefs.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    A hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) soars over the reef in the deeper waters of Kimbe Bay. Many of reefs of Kimbe Bay are home to resident and curious hawksbills, one of the many underwater attractions that continue to draw visitors to Kimbe Bay.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Patrick Smallhorn-West, a post-graduate research students from James Cook University investigate the hard coral reef residency of small gobies in the shallows of Kimbe Bay – one of the many behavioural and experimental research projects facilitated by the collaboration between Mahonia Na Dari and JCU.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Researchers from James Cook University test the use of vinegar to kill crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) once injected – sporadic outbreaks of this species have been documented in Kimbe Bay.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Outbreaks of the coral-eating crown of thorns starfish are known as a key threat to coral reefs.  The coral-eating starfish plays an important role on healthy coral reefs, by feeding on the fastest growing corals, allowing slower growing species to form colonies. This helps increase coral diversity. However, outbreaks of this species pose one of the most significant threats to Kimbe Bay reefs.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    The Crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) extrudes its stomach out through its mouth on the underside of its body to feed on hard corals. The stomach surface secretes digestive enzymes that allow the starfish to absorb nutrients from the liquefied coral tissue. This leaves a white scar of coral skeleton which is rapidly infested with filamentous algae.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Above the reef schools of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)  swirl in synchronised formation over the top of Inglis Shoals – one of the numerous isolated seamounts in Kimbe Bay that rise out of the depths. These sites are also frequented by grey reef (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) sharks.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Historic artefact. A fully intact Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane made its final descent into Kimbe Bay during World War Two. Its controls once handled by a Japanese fighter, are now armed by a squadron of spinecheek anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus).

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    James Cook University researchers continue to discover the importance of Kimbe Bay to local reef residents, such as this pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion). They’ve found that anemonefish populations in the bay have occurred here for multiple generations without outside influence from other areas.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    In the depths filter feeding sea whips and barrel sponges compete for space as a testiment to the area’s breathtaking diversity. Whilst the shallow waters are dominated by hard corals with a calcium carbonate skeleton, which  receive nutrients from photosynthesising zooxanthellae that live within their tissue.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Snorkeler Cristina Venables explores the shallows of an idyllic coral reef in the lee of Restorf Island. Each visit results in a payment made to local traditional resource owners who soon recognise a commercial value in keeping the marine environment pristine.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Protected on three sides by the surrounding geographic land forms, the sheltered waters of Kimbe Bay allow sessile invertebrates such as this barrel sponge to grow to extreme proportions.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    The jungles of Papua New Guinea are littered with the wrecks of Allied and Japanese aircraft in varying stages of disintegration – this Lockheed Ventura NZ4522 can be discovered in the jungle alongside an old abandoned airstrip. 

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    Kimbe Bay is a realm surrounded by a spectacular landscape of cloud-catching volcanoes, every morning presents a different scene of spectacular light, and volcanic peaks shrouded in mist.  

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

    A juvenile saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) utilises its biological adaptations such as raised eye ridges and nostrils to warm its core temperature and remain undetected in the warm shallow inshore waters of Kimbe Bay.

    Photo Credit: Justin Gilligan

GALLERY: Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea

By AG STAFF | February 23, 2016

Flanked on three sides by rainforest-mothered volcanoes, Kimbe Bay lies on the northern coast of the island of New Britain, the largest in the Bismarck Archipelago, 430km north-east of Port Moresby. It is one of the world’s most pristine coral reef environments. Read about how locals and a dive resort are working with conservationists to protect this piece of paradise in AG#131, out now.