Dampier Strait, 9am
Our first day of actual underwater operations got off to a slow start. We had planned to dive Otdima Reef to film a spectacular school of lined sweetlips that hover against a large rock while cleaner wrasses move between their open mouths cleaning parasites. This school was there last year when Michele and I scouted Raja Ampat and it was here yesterday. It has been here for years. Strange how some animals will often call a place home and gather predictably in one place as opposed to any other.
Unfortunately, we could not remove the 85 filter from the 30mm lens. Shooting the school with lights and the filter in place would have yielded yellow tinted images. I suspected the lens had some corrosion and was frozen in place. We decided to change plans and go to film manta rays at the Manta Sandy cleaning station where using the stuck filter was appropriate. As we passed the village where Greg MacGillivray and the topside crew were working, we discussed the problem with assistant cameraman Rob Walker by radio. He came out to our boat with a spare lens. More importantly, he came out with better knowledge of the lens and almost immediately had the filter out of the offending 30mm. We all felt a bit foolish.
So the plan changed again. With the filter out, we headed back to Otdima Reef to film the sweetlips school. This dive went very well and we ended by shooting three rolls of these spectacular fish. It is hard to image this scene not making it into the film.