Magnificent Mount Mutiny!

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Date: May 3-13, 2008
Destination: Bligh Water, Gau, Wakaya, Makogai, Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji
Welcome back: Doris and Bob S., Emily and Casey Z., and Lynn B.


The world's most photogenic clam.


The NAI’A dive deck was filled with pony bottles of all sizes and colors, looking very technical, as Emily and Casey Z., from Beaver Divers, Colorado, came on board with a group of nine friends and Advanced Nitrox Students. They enjoyed deep diving with new dive computer technology, which allowed them to take advantage of their various nitrox blends. Nothing quite like getting high on oxygen. They smiled often and teased each other even more, ate mountains of Oreos and chocolate chip cookies, and we all had lots of fun. Welcome back, Emily and Casey, and thank you for sharing the awesome Great hammerhead footage. Stealing food from each other must be some sort of special courtship we did not know anything about, but it seems to work for Emily and Casey …


Longnose hawkfish.
Thorny oyster.
Reef lizardfish.
Dennis K., Porter S. and Casey Z.
Mount Mutiny's Chironephthya soft corals.
Chevron barracuda.


Chants of magnificence to Mount Mutiny are long overdue. Exceptionally infinite visibility made the always spectacular walls of Mount Mutiny gleam even more than usual in pristine beauty. The shear walls and overhangs covered in the unique forests of Chironephthya soft corals in all colors took our breath away as we glided along in a mild current and enjoyed the sight of silvertip sharks, Spanish mackerels, a circling school of more than one hundred chevron barracuda, as well as giant schools of surgeonfish and fusiliers coming in close to the reef in big waves. It was the best choice of site and conditions for Casey and friends to make one of their deep dives, amongst the garden of giant whip corals in the deep water. By the reef we spotted several caverns with juvenile white-tip reef sharks sleeping closely packed together, and Eddie spotted a big black and white ornate ghost pipefish in a black coral bush, heavily pregnant, and it was still there on the second dive for everybody to appreciate.

How can it get any better? Somehow in Fiji it always does…


Fijian reef top.
Scenic Fiji.
Orange-finned anemonefish.
Pink anemonefish.
Waterbaby Elizabeth.

You would never guess Elizabeth J.’s age, as she bounces around like a teenager and has the energy of four of them. Three dives a day are a piece of cake for her, and if anybody else had any energy left, she would be dancing with them until dawn, to the gorgeous harmonies of NAI’A Crew, accompanied by bountiful bowls of kava … She is also an enthusiastic photographer and prefers garden eels, soft corals and clouds of fish to sharks any day.

Cat’s Meow is already dazzling enough as it is, with its soft corals, schooling many-spotted sweetlips, giant lionfish and copious colorful nudibranchs, but sometimes it has special surprises in store for us, like the giant manta that hovered over the reef top for several minutes for everybody to enjoy.


Jellyfish beauty.
Manta at Cat's Meow.


Lori L., a ski instructor, enjoyed the diving in warm water as much as she does meandering elegantly down the icy slopes.


Cyerce nigricans nudibranch.
Reticulidia halgerda nudibranch.
Flabellina rubrolineata.


We loose some and we gain some. So it happened that our red ghost pipefish at Charlie’s Garden, Vatu-I-Ra, left us, but we found the fattest white crinoid squat lobster ever instead, about three inches long, as well as two Zebra lionfish, and on the safety stop we were surrounded by at least 150 small squids hovering in mid-water… not too bad …


Mini-me Porter.


Jolly Porter S., was always smiling and took great advantage of the extra air in all his pony bottles. Never let good fills go to waste!

Mellow Yellow and Maytag never fail to impress. We basked in the abundance of fish and soft corals of the first, and enjoyed the schooling fish and critters of the latter. Elegant NAI’A pipefish are still roaming the crevices at Maytag, and the two leaf-gill slugs are still munching the green hairy algae, looking gorgeous.


Black-saddled toby.
Midas blennies in safe home.


It often pays off to hover somewhere along the way and check out a sandy bottomed overhang, as Elizabeth and I did on Mellow Yellow, and were able to spot three banded pipefish, four dragonets, a Chinese dragon nudibranch and several commensal shrimps, all in one small area.

Think of a loving couple and Jill and Guy K. pop straight into one’s mind. Gentle and always beaming, they enjoyed deep diving as much as pottering around in the shallows amongst myriads of fish and lush soft corals, and hardly ever missed a dive.


Gray reef shark at Nigali.
Our friend Mr Malabar grouper.
White-spotted grouper.


It is gray reef shark mating season at Nigali passage. The shark ladies get followed closely by eager males, and show bite and scratch marks around their dorsal fin area, all seeming a bit nervous and frisky compared to their usual detached and peaceful circling behaviour at our look-out point, the Bleachers. I would be feeling somewhat stressed, too, if I had to endure such rough treatment in the name of love! The current was mild and the visibility very clear, which made for comfortable and leisurely enjoyment of the sharks’ parade. Our cheeky malabar grouper friend accompanied us down the passage every time, and also a manta, and the huge school of big-eye jacks spiraled around us from one hundred feet all the way to the surface … neat!

Several of us had encounters with a Great hammerhead cruising slowly along the passage, what an impressive sight!


Short-nose pipefish.
Rare Chaetodon flavirostris butterflyfish.


The couple of shortnose pipefish are still there, looking like brown sticks with tiny noses, except now they have doubled their numbers. The pile of four or five juvenile white-tip reef sharks was also under their usual overhang sleeping station. The very rare couple of Chaetodon flavirostris butterflyfish have moved to the cabbage patch, hovering in between the leaves and looking spectacular.

Rich S. had a small love affair with a remora and also quite a little teasing competition going with Deeeeeeeeeeeennis K, our new official NAI’A Kava Party Goat. Welcome, Rich, to the Giant Remora Hall of Fame.


Rich after giant remora attack.
Scythe triggerfish.
Princess damselfish.
Golden damselfish.
Teardrop butterflyfish having soft corals for dinner.
Arc-eye hawkfish.
Juvenile dotted sweetlips.
Longnose filefish.


Dennis and his wife Sally K. always followed us dive guides closely, rewarding our finds with big smiles. Sally’s first night dive ever was at Namena Marine Park, with a pygmy sea horse and a stonefish … now she wants to night dive all the time …
Dennis, did you finally see an orange fish???

On our second day at Nigali passage we decided to explore the two side walls along the passage, drifting along steep slopes covered in outcrops with very lush and colorful Dendronephthya soft coral growth, big healthy fans, schools of Heller’s barracuda passing by closely, as well as turtles, sea snakes and sharks paying us visits. Truly breathtaking diving!

Thomas C. could not get enough of the busy Fijian reef tops, where one can almost not see the reef for the amount of fish. Careful, Thomas, don’t get your hair messed up in the current!


Common lionfish.
Male square-spot anthia.
Flame hawkfish.
Golden mantis shrimp.


Anthias Avenue at Gau welcomed us with a huge manta flying past near the bottom as we were descending. We also saw six openly hovering lionfish, wings spread out, for all the photographers to enjoy, and the very shy and equally handsome purple leaf scorpionfish was out in the open, too, for once. There were also a few cheeky-looking peacock mantis shrimps, poking their heads out of their holes, busily fixing them shoving rocks around, and walking about, then turning on the spot, wiggling their tail up high and disappearing back in the hole. We watched their, never boring, performance for most of the dive.


Purple leaf scorpionfish.
Peacock mantis shrimp.
Yellow leaf scorpionfish.


Doris and Bob S., welcome back. Old friends of NAI’A, they go on diving holidays several times a year all over the world and almost never miss a dive. Just my kind of retirement plan! So nice to have you back yet again.

Night diving was great, as we spotted a yellow cuttlefish, Saron shrimps, red coral crabs, one of them running around holding a dark egg mass between its front pincers, two nice tiger cowries with their spiky mantle covering the shell, a very decorated decorator crab, four grumpy stonefish in a family gathering, and … last but not least … the cherry on the night dive cake … a Fiji pygmy seahorse (my first …) sitting on a hydroid. WOW!


Soft corals at E6.


Fish and underwater critters have a way to win you over and create addiction, as Carobeth and Jack B. experienced during this charter, having fish and critter books always wide open and identifying each one they saw for their photo gallery and for the school projects of their grandchildren. Carobeth always made sure Jack did not miss out on any critter or fish we pointed out, while he was busy taking photographic evidence. He also found his own “most photogenic” clam at Nigali, although he did like Mike’s clam, too. They came from Texas with their friends Carol and Bill B. Carol managed the most elegant underwater summersaults and had obvious gills, while Bill wore the most handsome shirts at dinner time and busied himself with photography. Thank you for your enthusiasm, it was great diving with you!

Lynn M., our videographer Mike’s lovely wife, is with us on NAI’A for a few charters. The fish love her fluorescent squid diving suit, which is a perfect match to Mike’s red flatworm outfit. Looking good underwater is essential … you never know who you might run into …


Splendid flatworm.
Gorgeous flatworm.


Guest Comments

This is our first trip to Fiji and with NAI’A. What a pleasant trip, all the way from the size of the rooms to the food, excellent staff and service, and beautiful diving.
Lots of little critters new to us, beautiful coral.
If we ever come back to this part of the world, NAI’A will be our destination!
Carobeth and Jack B., Dallas, TX, USA

This is our 3rd trip on NAI’A, and it feels like coming Home.
Everything was as great as I had remembered.
Many thanks!
Emily and Casey Z., Beaver Divers, Vail, CO, USA


Casey with mini-me.
Bula vinaka!
Red sunset.


Life experiences are few that result in a feeling of lifetime friends and family.
NAI’A achieves all of this in just 10 days – “amazing”.
The hospitality and graciousness is exemplary and to be learned by all of us “guests”, who are privileged to call NAI’A Home for a brief moment in time.
Jill and Guy K., Avon, CO, USA

Our 5th trip on NAI’A and it’s still one of our favorite live-aboards!
We hit less-than-ideal weather but great diving.
Thanks to every member of the Crew for another great trip!
Doris and Bob S., Fallbrook, CA, USA


Emily and Casey Zwann
Beaver Divers, Vail, CO


Moray eel.


Emily Z.
Elizabeth J.
Lori L.
Jill K.
Guy K.
Flabellina exoptata.
Rich S.
Sally K.
Thomas C.
Yellow-faced goby.
Bob S.
Doris S.
Jack & Carobeth B.
Bill B.
Carol B.
Lynn M.