Lindblad Expeditions - From the Oceanic Discoverer in Papua New Guinea - Dennis Cornejo, naturalist

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From the Oceanic Discoverer in Papua New Guinea

Nov 8, 2012 - Oceanic Discoverer

Performers at Bin
Performance audience

Sepik River and Manam Island

First light finds us a bit upstream of the mouth of the Sepik River. The river is flowing fairly quickly judging by the speed of the vegetative debris floating along… mostly the pretty, but introduced and invasive, water hyacinth. Going upstream we are watching for birds and other animals as the river vegetation changes from Pandanus swamp to Sago Palm thicket. We do pretty well with birds once it is light enough to identify them: great egret, intermediate egret, darter, little black cormorant, common tern, whistling kite, brahminy kite and white-bellied sea eagle, these for sure. We even spot a large crocodile hauled out on a small sand beach!

After breakfast, we have an opportunity to go ashore at the village of Bin. The village runs about a mile along the edge of the river. It is beautifully kept with a broad, neatly swept dirt road bordered by many dwellings and flowering plants.

Most of us made the half-mile walk through the lower part of the village, while others rode the tender, Xplorer, for a short river cruise. We all met at the school ground for a sing sing and crafts market.

The sing sing here is very easy to watch and enjoy. It has both enthusiasm and creativity. Without being judgmental, I found myself looking at the performers and then at the audience of villagers. As it should be, the performers looked brighter and more attractive than the audience, the villagers in their western clothes… OK, the performers looked better than us too! It seemed to me that the performers realized they were in their best costumes and it showed.

Just before sunset we arrived at Manam Island, and active volcano. It is impressively smoking away! We have cocktails on deck and a BBQ dinner. In the dark we could see a long trail of fiery lava running down the slope of the mountain, very cool, or rather, very hot!

About the Author

Dennis Cornejo·Undersea Specialist

Dennis began scuba diving during the mid-1970s as part of a research project. At the time he was a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, studying the population of winter hibernating sea turtles.  What began as a scientific study soon became a conservation project that expanded to three species of sea turtles along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.  This project received major funding from the World Wildlife Fund and was eventually taken over directly by that agency with Kim Clifton and Dennis Cornejo as co-principal investigators.