The area to the west of Kavieng in New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea has numerous channels that provide some excellent diving. Originally for this dive we had planned to do a site called Helmuts Reef at the month of Steffen Strait but the current there was way too strong. The alternative site was Matrix.
|Kelly and a gorgonia at Matrix||Another very colourful gorgonia|
Matrix is also located in Steffen Strait, but is about 4.5 kilometres from the mouth of the strait. It is about 40 minutes from Nusa Resort on the fast (43 km.h) dive boats. Even though the tide was incoming at the entrance, the tide here was outgoing. It appears that the water was flowing in in the centre of the strait but swirling around and going out on the western side. This meant that we had to do a drift from about 300 metres further up back to the normal starting point of GPS S2Âș 38' 39.0" E150Âș 31' 59.3" using WGS84 as datum. This spot is easily found as it is the only spot along the western side of the channel where the reef is broken and the deeper water extends to the west.
|Looking out of the cave at Matrix||Kelly with a very large gorgonia|
As mentioned, we travelled about 300 metres further up Steffen Strait and entered the water. Here the depth was xx metres and the reef a vertical wall. The current is relatively strong, but you could swim against if with not too much effort. This wall is almost totally covered in gorgonias, some of them very large. There are also some sea whips. The reef goes to at least 50 metres.
A few bump-headed parrotfish were seen, both early in the dive and towards the end. A few sharks and a turtle were also seen. The wall has a lot of small caves, some of which can be entered. There are also a few swim-throughs created by bommies linking up with the main reef.
|Two Tryon's Risbecia - Risbecia tryoni||Racing Stripe Flatworm (yes, that is its name)|
- Pseudoceros bifurcus
After 30 minutes the number of gorgonias diminished. Of course, as you go you are gradually ascending all the dive. By the time we get back to the intended starting point (a small indent in the reef top), the current has started to swirl a bit and there is a bit of an eddy effect.
The indent is obvious once we get there so we spend the rest of the time in the shallows of the reef till it is time to ascend. We did a 70 minute dive, thoroughly enjoyable and very easy. Once it is time to ascend, we swam out from the reef and started heading back in the direction we had come from. On the surface you just wait for the boat to come and get you.
|An interesting starfish||Two blennies on a brain coral|
Visibility is 30 metres and the water temperature 19ÂșC.