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Story Behind the Shot – The Fish Bomb

July 21, 2014
Unexploded "Fish Bomb"

Unexploded “Fish Bomb”

This is one of the harder photos I have ever taken!  Back in 2012 we (the Dive Damai) were exploring the Indonesian island chain of Halmahera, an area that is not well known to divers as it’s off the beaten path, lying between Raja Ampat and North Sulawesi.  We were transiting between Raja and Halmahera and stopped at the small island group popularly known as “Pulau Pisang” or “Banana Island” to dive on the pretty reefs that are located in the area.  I had already visited this area several times over the previous few years and looked forward to diving on a site that boasted a large population of fusiliers, surgeonfish, and red tooth triggers that would school in the currents just off the reef.  On this particular trip, we dropped onto the site and enjoyed the schooling fish and bright soft corals that populate the current side of a pair of small islets.  However, as we followed the reef around to the lee side we came upon the site of some freshly destroyed coral heads that could only be the work of illegal dynamite fishermen.  Obviously this upset me quite a bit, so I went about the process of taking photos of the destroyed coral heads while swearing profusely into my regulator.  While I was doing this, one of my fellow divers called me over and pointed out an object that immediately had me exclaiming even louder, an unexploded fish bomb lying on the bottom!  I immediately started to tell the group to surface, as I had no idea if this explosive could still be set off.  Of course I wanted to take photos of this “bomb” but I admit to feeling a rather deep sense of foreboding in doing it and had trouble convincing myself to get close.  I ended up turning off my strobes (didn’t want the electrical circuit to set anything off) and zoomed as far as I could before snapping off a couple of quick shots all the while anticipating the bomb going off with each camera click!

Although the shot is certainly nothing spectacular, it does show how simple these home made “reef bombs” are: a couple of bottles filled with fertilizer and diesel or kerosene plus a wick.  What is scary is that these items are made from pretty easy to get ingredients but pose a huge threat to reefs.

Aquatica D90, f8, 1/30, 10-17mm lens, iso 400

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Underwater Tribe - Diving, Underwater Photography, and Adventure Travel in Bali and Beyond

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