During the past months, The Ocean Mapping Expedition has been sailing in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
We left The Great Barrier Reef at the end of June and the winds pushed us towards PNG. We have visited just a small part of PNG but what we have seen so far was just amazing. Places full of nature and wilderness. Places where the people live in small houses done with vegetal materials, where the electricity is almost nonexistent and internet access is something that happens few times in their lives. The ocean has a dark blue color but once you are at shallower waters the color start to change to crystal blue. In all the islands we visited the coral reefs are presents and the communities depend directly on them, is the place where coastal fishing takes part; they fish with lines and hooks, with nets but also with spears. They also fish in the open ocean with their canoes; they fish big fishes as tuna.
In almost all the bays seagrasses and algaes are present, the big meadows are in shallow waters (from almost 0 meters to 10 meters deep, depending the place), the substrate of these meadows is fine sand and normally you find a mix of seagrasses with some species of Caulerpa. In this kind of ecosystems you can find Cymodocea serrulata, Enhalus acoroides and/or Halophila ovalis mixed with some species of Caulerpa as Caulerpa taxifolia or Caulerpa racemosa. We also found species of seagrasses and caulerpa in the coral reef, their distribution is more segregated and the species that dominate are from the genus Caulerpa among other species of algaes. The seagrass Enhalus acoroides was present sometimes between some big potatoes of coral.
In general the areas that we studied were in a very good conservation state, we observe some interactions with the presence of humans, many of the meadows we have studied used to be at the shore of the villages, they could have a small impact due to the canoes and the effect of the human activity but was nothing really important.
We arrived to Solomon Islands on July 19th; we entered the country from the north, arriving to Gizo, the second biggest city of Solomon. Then we moved to Kolombongara Island, after that we sailed around New Georgia Islands, sailing through the shallow Vonavona Lagoon, visiting different Islands as Kohingo or Lola Island. After that we sailed towards Noro, one of the biggest cities in Solomon for after changing the province towards Choiseul, then Russel Islands and at the end Guadalcanal Island.