Before arriving at the Conflict Islands I had heard about the amazing diving in Papua New Guinea, in particular Milne Bay. It’s safe to say I was not disappointed!
With giant gorgonian fans, hundreds of different types of coral, thousands of fish, regular sightings of turtles and reef sharks, this place really is a diver’s paradise!
My first dive at the Conflicts was near our main island of Panasesa, diving along the wall that dropped off to 30m. There were more fish than I could possibly take in! I saw a couple of turtles and a small reef shark, it was absolutely amazing.
Each dive since then just gets better and better! From the tiny pygmy sea horses and shark eggs to swimming with 5-6 reef sharks and 4 turtles.
A rapid biodiversity assessment was conducted in Milne Bay, including the Conflict Islands, in 1998. This biodiversity assessment concluded that the Conflict Islands have the highest average number of fish species recorded in a survey, with an average of 220 species recorded on each dive (Conservation International 1998).
The coral at the Conflict Islands is some of the healthiest that I have seen. In the age of global warming and rapid coral bleaching, the Conflict Islands has remained incredibly pristine. Very few cases of coral bleaching have been seen here and we have, so far, escaped the spread of the ‘crown of thorns’ starfish. The remote location of the Conflict Islands has meant that it has remained relatively untouched by tourism and with only limited commercial fishing.
Volunteers participating in the Conflict Islands Conservation Internship will have the opportunity to dive and snorkel around the uninhabited islands of the Conflicts atoll.