Video: Diving the Babata Sinkhole, Solomon Islands

Dear Critters,

To celebrate the new year, our anniversary and my Dive 300 together, Spunky Abe and I went to the Solomon Islands (east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu, where we first learned to dive) for a full week of underwater adventures. This vacation began with a fair dose of drama as the remote island we were travelling to was hammered by the start of a cyclone. We found ourselves trapped overnight in Honiara due to cancelled flights and spent our anniversary bunkered down against torrential rains in some random Japanese restaurant where even the staff could not make sense of the menu (thankfully, the food was pretty delicious!) We found ourselves seriously considering whether it would be courageous or foolish to try to move forward once another flight became available, and whether we should try to board the next flight home to move in the opposite direction from the brewing cyclone, rather than risk being caught even closer to the middle of it.

Long story short, after three consecutive 4am mornings and a number of cancelled flights, we finally found ourselves exhausted but onboard a small plane to our intended destination where we managed to do twelve dives (my Dives 300-311). Almost every dive was around 30 metres deep, including a shipwreck, two plane wrecks, this sinkhole, magnificent coral walls and reefs, caves and a brilliant night dive! (I have lots of photos and videos and some interesting stories to share over the coming weeks, so please stay tuned!)

Upside down Abe at Sinkhole

On the final dive day of our trip, Spunky Abe and I undertook a spectacular, full-day expedition. Four very different dive sites connected by the kind of jungle lagoon passages you might expect Indiana Jones to travel. Our first dive was a completely vertical shipwreck (which will be featured in my next post), followed by a stunning barracuda encounter at Penguin Reef and a picnic lunch at a gorgeous private island on the fringes of the most picturesque secluded lagoon (later that afternoon we dived two WWII bomber plane wrecks). After lunch, we marvelled at the deep, clear blue body of water before us. ‘You can swim on this side of the lagoon,’ our Dive Master Deliver advised us, ‘But not on the other side where the water is dark.’ ‘Crocodiles?’ I ask with bated breath, secretly hoping to see one. He nods ominously.

After an hour of lazing in the bright sunshine on the safe side of the lagoon, we boarded our private diveboat once more and back-rolled off it into the Babata Sinkhole. This is a spectacular vertical shaft descending beneath a wave-cut cliff platform down to around 28 metres (think of a mini Grand Canyon underwater!)

This short video will give you just a taste of the majesty of this beautiful site, complete with caves, electric scallops (affectionately known as ‘disco lights’), wreck relics and sea fans. And if you’re wondering what Spunky Abe and DM Deliver (yes, his real name!) were searching for with their torches and magnifying glass in that sea fan, it was one of these impossibly tiny little pygmy seahorses (you could honestly fit at least 10 of them on your pinky finger nail – they are probably around the size of a very small ant or a grain of rice!):

Pygmy Seahorse

While I am super-excited to share my other videos and stories from this trip, it may take me a little while to finish editing and posting them as I find myself somewhat limited by very low energy levels moving into this new year.(Maybe it’s just taking me a little longer than usual to recover from this trip to the Solomon Islands, which in some ways was Β a fairly challenging expedition).

To be honest, I think I’m also still coming to terms with entering the first whole year of my adult life without a career due to my prognosis, but increasingly I am reaching an even deeper level of peace with this transition. I am more than grateful to have the blessing of my extensive medical team to continue diving as much as I am able to, and I am excited to have as many more dive adventures as possible throughout the coming year. As one of my specialists assured me this morning, ‘We just want you to have the best quality of life possible,’ and as I’m sure you and my entire medical team understand by now, spending as much time as possible underwater is definitely my definition of living πŸ™‚

While I never used to think twice about it, now it is so strange when I travel to complete my Departure Cards before I disembark from the plane which require me to fill in my occupation. And I wonder to myself, do I actually write ‘RETIRED’ in the small blank space? (Surely that will raise eyebrows when they see I clearly am nowhere near 65 years old …) ‘No longer employed due to terminal illness’ would undoubtedly pose more questions than it would answer, and ‘Unstoppable Aquatic Adventurer’ would most likely cause the customs officers to think I either had not understood the question or had refused to take it seriously.

ThenΒ IΒ realise there is a better, simpler and entirely truthful answer to that question, and I etch out my response, carving out my official new identity in black biro: ‘Occupation: Scuba Blogger’. After all, diving is the sole purpose of my travel, as the entire contents of my carry-on and check in luggage will attest. And to my great relief, not one single customs officer or airport official blinks in shock or disbelief, and no-one squints at me as though I am being flippant or pretentious or looks at me as though I am some sort of terminal time-bomb now 5 months into a 6-12 month prognosis …

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.47.12 pm

No matter how I feel as this year progresses, I will endeavour to post frequently and to keep this blog worth reading. I will cherish each opportunity for adventure and will relish every chance to share those adventures with each one of you. Exploring the vast and mysterious underwater water world keeps my sense of awe and wonder vibrantly alive and gives me a blissful sense of fulfilment and purpose.

I recently purchased a hot pink hoodie that reads ‘Live every day as though tomorrow you might DIVE’, and I definitely think that philosophy will work well for me in 2015 πŸ˜€ So … pushing my supreme tiredness aside, I offer you this as the first of many adventures for this happy new year, and I tank you with all my liddle pink heart for joining me on this crazy ride πŸ™‚

Love and bubbles,

PT xxx

ps Tanks so much for taking the time to read this blog. While you’re here, please check out a few more of my underwater and Bucket List Adventures!

pps And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog by email for updates and to follow Pink Tank Scuba on Facebook!

ppps Special request from Spunky Abe … a lot of people who know us personally have begun to call him Abe. He just thought you should know that his real name is Adrian and that ‘Abe’ is just my lazy pet name for him, combining ‘Adrian’ and ‘Babe’. He feels a bit weird now that so many other people are calling him Abe. I think it’s absolutely hilarious πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

 

 

37 thoughts on “Video: Diving the Babata Sinkhole, Solomon Islands

    • Tanks so much, Ellen & Seth – can’t wait to share the next few videos with you! Yup, those teeny tiny seahorses are simply amazing! I could barely see it with my naked eye and the photo I’ve included here is taken with a diopter and cropped in quite close – such incredible liddle critters! Take care xxx

      • Wow, they’re even smaller than I thought!! I’d love to see one someday. We looked in a spot in South Africa where they’re said to live but no go 😦

  1. Hello my friend. Thanks for sharing this. It looks like an amazing place. So tranquil almost dreamlike qualities.
    Happy New Year to you.
    Keep on being inspirational in 2015.
    Luv n peas
    Bob

    • Hello friend – it really was an amazing dive site – very blissful. Tank you for your encouragement once again πŸ™‚ Happy new year to you also. Keep taking your amazing images in 2015! Bubbles and peas always, PT πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  2. You are the best scuba blogger I have found anywhere so you got the profession right. I wait for and savor each of your posts for the photos, the video and most of all for the vibrance and quality of your written posts. The clarity of your language and the quality of your writing are special as are you.

    Congratulations on 300 dives and best wishes for all of your future dives. I will be back often to read the new posts and revisit your past ones in addition to enjoying the photos and videos.

    What a gem of a person you are!

    • Tank you so much, jsandrin – I believe that’s about the nicest compliment anyone has ever paid me on my blog – your encouragement really means a lot to me! You also have an excellent blog with some truly beautiful images and I really enjoy your writing style as well (I officially encourage anyone who enjoys my blog to have a look at yours as well πŸ™‚ ) Tank you from the bottom of my heart for your congratulations and your kind words. I feel genuinely honoured that you like my posts πŸ™‚ Blessings for your journey today, PT πŸ™‚

  3. Happy New Year PT! Your blog is great, and the pygmy seahorse picture is superb!
    Congratulations on you 300 dives! I hope to get there some day! πŸ˜‰

    Best wishes!

    Luciano (from last year’s Mike Ball expedition)

    • Tank you so much for your kind words, Luciano πŸ™‚ I hope you have had some great dives since our trip together last year. Keep diving the oceans of the world and exploring all its wondrous mysteries – and please let me know when you reach your 100 (if not already!), 200 and 300 milestones and I will do the dance of joy with you. Love and best wishes to you both, PT xxx

    • Tanks so much for your kind words, Phyll! Awesome idea! Will aim to put a hoodie pic up over the next day or so 😊 Love and bubbles, PT xxx

  4. It’s the first time I’ve read your blog; however I can honestly say that it won’t be the last and I can’t wait for the video – Inspirational reading written by a very inspirational person!!! πŸ™‚

    • Tanks so much for your kind and encouraging words, Pete and welcome aboard the Pink Tank Scuba adventure! Right now I’m sitting in a gorgeous little Bucket List cafe, surrounding by glass walls and chandeliers, working on my shipwreck video – can’t wait to share it with you guys! Tanks so much for inspiring me to keep going and getting this next post ready – it really means a lot to me to have people like you along for this journey. Blessings on your day today, PT πŸ™‚

    • Tank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, Slices of Py! They really mean a lot to me and truly inspire me to keep going and sharing the adventures (working on my next video as we speak!) May your day be filled with blessings and joy! Best fishes always, PT πŸ™‚

  5. I am sorry to hear of your diagnosis. Your attitude gives altitude and inspiration to all you touch. Congrats on your anniversary! My husband and I are heading toward our 41st! We are in for the long haul. I say, once you’ve got each other broken in why would you want to break another one in? Rediculous! πŸ™‚

    I had breast cancer 20 years ago. I had lots of times feeling this was preposterous, unreal. I would love to pray for you. How would you like me to pray? If Jesus made a house call to you what would you ask of Him?

    • Hi janjoy52 – tank you so much for your kind words and encouragement and congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! I am so glad you got through your breast cancer πŸ™‚ Tank you for your offer to pray for me πŸ™‚ When I pray for myself, I pray for wisdom and strength (I really love the Serenity Prayer!) Tank you for your kindness πŸ™‚ Blessings for your journey today, PT xxx

    • Tank you again for your kind words, janjoy52 – I love sharing these underwater adventures with you πŸ™‚ I think the sassy red lips were actually an electric scallop – truly amazing critters once you shine a torch on them! πŸ™‚

    • Victor, I am wishing you a lifetime of seahorses, or at least one special appearance in 2015 – please let me know when it happens! Best fishes always, PT πŸ˜€

  6. Exiting dive! And than you for subscribing to my blog! Here you’ll find more than 3500 pictures from Norway and Norwegian nature, mostly in ‘full screen’, and new pictures will be posted og a regular basis. Please enjoy!
    And if you really like what we’ll be showing you, – please tell your friends! πŸ™‚

  7. Hi PT, was wonderful to read about your dives. The footage is beautiful. I am unsure if i will have the chance to scuba dive so it is so lovely to see your photos and videos of places I may never go.

    • Hey Priscilla, tank you so much for your kind words! πŸ™‚ I feel so honoured to be able to take you with me on my dives through this blog and to give you access to just a few of the beautiful mysteries of the ocean, even if you may not get the chance to dive for yourself πŸ™‚ Blessings for your day! Love and bubbles, PT xxx

  8. Hey Pink Tank!! So glad to see you making another incredible dive into a world a lot of us are afraid to enter! Keep up the great adventure stories, cheers from Eastern Shore VA πŸ™‚

  9. I was diving in Anilao while you were here, and we have a mutual friend there–(Mike B. at CBR). He says to say hello. Your blog is so well written and inspiring as always. Like you, I spend all the time I can under water and appreciate your love for the ocean and it’s occupants. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your adventure!

    • Tanks so much for passing Mike’s message on, waterdogphotographyblog πŸ™‚ He really was so patient and helpful to me in developing my camera skills πŸ™‚ I adore diving the Philippines and while I liked Puerto Galera, Anilao was definitely my favourite πŸ™‚ Tank you for your kind and encouraging words. It is great to have met a like-minded soul through our blogs and if wishes come true, maybe we will find a way to dive together somehow one day πŸ™‚ Blessings for your day and on all your future underwater adventures! Love and bubbles, PT xxx

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