Fish, Fish, Fish

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Date: December 28, 2004 - January 7, 2005
Destination: Bligh Triangle, Fiji
Group Charter: Monterey Bay Aquarium & New England Aquarium
Returning Passengers: Gerry Allen, Steve Webster, Greg Stone, Steve Bailey, Alan Dynner, Keith & Lynn Chase, Jeff Herzog

Poss scorpionfish. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.
The meke at Lovu Village, New Year's Eve.
“Fish” was the keyword most thrown around this charter as the world’s leading ichthyologist Gerry Allen was joined by the brains, brawn, and backing behind two of the world’s greatest aquaria. Groups from the New England Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, led by Greg Stone and Steve Webster respectively, came together for the first time – Fiji-style aboard the NAI’A to ring in the new year.

Grey reef shark, Nigali Passage. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.
Derek Threinen celebrates his "lost birthday".
Bob & Maryann DeRuff (still classed as newlyweds!)

The usual direct flight from LAX was a little too easy for adventurers Steve Bailey, Derek Threinen and Jeff Herzog as they opted for the more scenic planes, trains, and automobiles route. Speculation abounded that it was all a clever ploy to get Gerry Allen to Levuka wharf for a meeting with his new mystery damsel …

Karen & Jim Parris at Lovu Village, New Year's Eve.

The lure of more undescribed species kept Gerry’s computer in the red while his trusty (and dilapidated) wetsuit faithfully completed its last dives. Greg Stone’s mission, on the other hand, was to capture the beauty of Fiji’s finest on the New England Aquarium’s high-def ‘beast’ – and largely accomplished with the help of tech wiz Jeff Herzog and a last minute cameo from NAI’A’s own Rob. Steve Webster kept up his regular routine of scuba fashion trend-setting, while putting together not only an educational trip video, but possible the finest “church” in cinematic history to capture Alan Dynner as he had never been seen before (at least by himself). Steve Bailey performed some minor surgery all in the name of science, while keeping us all on tenterhooks to hear who would be his next ‘Diver of the Day’.

Mark Rosenstein's birthday.

NAI’A veterans Keith and Lynn Chase kept up their averages with plenty of diving and absorbing the wealth of knowledge onboard. Porter ‘the machine’ Turnbull splashed on every single dive, splitting his energy between tripod slave, photo guy, and critter-spotting bottom dweller. Alan Dynner was a great sport on video night, and managed to almost keep up with Porter on the dive tables. Jim and Karen Parris, the keepers of a magical elixir, got back into Fiji diving after a 15-year absence … and Jim, you still look younger than Josh's dad. Sandy Prescott managed to clock the most tanning time, and performed a valiant clean-up effort on Vatu-I-Ra Island. Mark Rosenstein snapped one thousand shots, while dive buddy Heidi Munzinger had it all thoroughly documented in her epic logbook. Gayle Smith never managed to see what the continental breakfasts looked like, while husband Doug did enough dives for the pair of them. Veteran diver Bob DeRuff, having long since upgraded from his home-made regulator, moved up in the liveaboard world (away from flare gun incidents) with newly-wed wife Maryann – who somehow managed to beat everyone to the bottom, despite being the last one in, and without her gear on… Bravo!

Gayle Smith is Bailey's 'Diver of the Day'.
Porcelain crab. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.
Palette surgeonfish. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.



Many thanks for another great cruise. Fantastic dive sites, great fish (very important), incredible food, and – most important – lots of great dive mates. Keep up the good work. Vinaka,
Gerry Allen, Western Australia

Once again, this was the perfect coral reef adventure. Many great memories and reef critters, wonderful food, terrific support and friendship from the crew. Next November is not soon enough to return! Vinaka vaka levu,
Steve Webster, Carmel Valley CA

Steve Bailey and Gerry Allen collect a DNA sample from a false cleanerfish -- just a colour variation, or is it a new species? The blenny was safely returned to its hole.

Thanks for giving us another memorable end of the year / start of the new year experience (it’s our third trip). You make it so easy, fun and comfortable for us ‘old timers’. NAI’A continues its reputation as the World’s Best Liveaboard!
Lynn & Keith Chase, Carmel CA

Dear Liz (the dragonet lady!), Josh and all the NAI’A crew:
A year ago I didn’t even know I wanted to dive Fiji, and now I can’t imagine not returning on a regular basis! I’ve never enjoyed ten days more – diving, eating, diving, laughing, diving, learning, and then eating again – superb treatment by the friendliest and most competent crew it’s ever been my pleasure to sail with! Thank you all very much for everything you do to enhance the experience. I look forward to crossing paths and blowing bubbles with you again soon. (P.S. Richie, don’t ever stop your underwater antics!
Heidi Munzinger (The Penguin Lady), Sunnyvale CA

Manta Ray, Wakaya Island. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.

Thank you for making our return to diving so enjoyable and comfortable. We looked forward to this trip for nine months – and we weren’t disappointed. Everything ran smoothly and we felt that everything was under control. Josh and Liz set a very comfortable and friendly ambiance. We had confidence in the crew and the boat. You are the BEST! We look forward to a return trip.
Karen & Jim Parris, Malibu CA

Muito obrigado.
Porter Turnbull, Haleiwa, Hawaii

Thanks for an absolutely wicked trip. The NAI’A is without a doubt the best way to dive Fiji – fabulous diving in a great variety of locations from a boat and crew that provides service to rival a 5-star hotel. We’ve tried the rest and will definitely dive with the best again.
Doug & Gayle Smith, Carmel CA

Common lionfish. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.

It was every bit as terrific the third time! I’ll be back again soon. Vinaka,
Steven Bailey, Braintree MA

Great trip, great diving, great people!
Alan Dynner, Boston MA

To the exceptional NAI’A and her dedicated and overachieving crew – thanks for the phenomenal cruise, good times, warm hospitality, and some of the world’s best diving. You run a top class operation. I’m already looking forward to the next time. Vinaka,
Derek Threinen, Somerville MA

Clouds of anthias above soft corals, manta ray encounters, learning about fish from the experts, friendships made…
Mark Rosenstein, Cambridge MA

Each of you did your best to see that we were educated on the underwater world, well fed, and pampered throughout the entire ten days. We hope to return soon!
Bob & Maryann DeRuff, Newport Beach CA

Steve Webster, Gerry Allen and Greg Stone with NAI'A's Josh & Liz.
Steve Webster, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Titan triggerfish. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.
Greg Stone, from the New England Aquarium.
Jeff Herzog works on the New England Aquarium's hi-def camera, aka "The Beast".
Porter Turnbull struggles with
his sulu.
Lynn Chase seems to like kava.
Doug Smith.
Semicircle angelfish.
Photo: Mark Rosenstein.
Alan Dynner.
Keith Chase gets snap happy
Sandy Prescott got the best suntan.
Freckle faced blenny. Photo: Mark Rosenstein.
Heidi Munzinger.