Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - The Finger
This is another of the fantastic dive sites found in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea. This site is perhaps one of the closest of the reef dives to the city. The main entrance from the open sea to Port Moresby Harbour is called Basilisk Passage. Harry Potter fans will have heard of this name but it is not, of course, named for the creature in the books. Instead, it is named after HMS Basilisk which was skippered by Captain (later Admiral) John Moresby. On 21 February 1873 he entered the passage and name the harbour Fairfax Harbour and the area Port Moresby (after his father, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Fairfax Moresby GCB). The eastern side of the passage as it passes through the reef has some great dive locations. The reef here is called Nateara Reef. This site is the western most point of the reef.
As you leave the harbour and enter Basilisk Passage you will see a light on the left. This is the main starboard channel marker for the passage. To the south of the light is a dive site called The Finger. It received its name, not surprisingly, because the site resembles a finger. The reef here rises from perhaps 600 metres in the centre of the passage to about six metres on the top. There used to be a mooring here but it is broken as of December 2003. You anchor anywhere between the wall on the passage and the sand that drops to 15 metres on the east. Note that there are sometimes very strong currents here, we could not dive here once because the current was far too strong.
The finger points to the south. The dive starts by dropping over the western wall and going down perhaps to 40 metres or so. Swimming south you should come up so that you are at 20 to 25 metres after about 20 to 25 metres. This is the tip of the finger and where you should turn around and come back up the other side of the finger, that is, on the eastern side. The depth here is much shallower, coming from 25 to 20 metres fairly quickly and then gradually to 13 metres. This is near the anchor spot and there is a large Admiralty anchor on the sand, about 10 metres off the wall.
I did this dive as a night dive and it was simply mind-blowing. The visibility was at least 30 and perhaps 40 metres. I have a very strong torch (50 watts and wide beam) and it simply lit up the whole reef as we went. From the anchor spot we started seeing crayfish, lots of them. They were in nearly every overhang, right along the reef. The corals were feeding so the colour was brilliant. Even watching featherstars feeding at night is great. There were lots of different species of surgeonfish, you could get very close to them.
There were also a few unicornfish. They were all asleep and you could get right next to them. As luck would have it, I did not take my camera on the dive so I did not get any shots but my buddy, Mark Palmer, took his and lit by my light, he took a full card's worth of great shots. I will have to get him to send me a couple for the page.
There were lots of Moorish idols, long and short-finned bannerfish, firefish and spider crabs. I saw a couple of giant eels (this is the common name), some small rays on the sand, a school of transparent fish (no idea of their name as I cannot find them in any fish book), a large Spanish dancer and a slipper cray.
Another great find was a school of flashlight fish. These fish emit a flashing light from their body (near their gills I think). They streamed from on the reef, through a small archway and out over the sand and off into the dark. With our lights off, this was a spectacular site as anyone who has seen them in the front holds of the SS President Coolidge in Vanuatu will attest. Even the people still on the boat could see the flashlight fish as they moved through the water.
After over 60 minutes I ascended, perfectly satisfied with this dive, one of my best ever night dives. Water temperature was 27.0°, visibility about 30 to 40 metres and no current. A fantastic dive!!
The dive operation in Port Moresby does not dive this site as they have their boat based south at Bootless Bay. The only way you can dive the plane is with the Port Moresby Sub Aqua Club (contact President Mark Palmer) who would be more than happy to take you out diving if you are visiting Port Moresby.