Previously on Expedition Oé-Cusse! Bertie and the …from Below explorers set sail on a great ocean adventure. Wow! Discovered an amazing new dive site! And vowed to map the reefs of Oé-Cusse! All this and more right here on Timor-Leste from Below! So after the success of finding our first dive site Cabbage Coral Cathedral we now have a plan. And that plan is; we find a sheltered bay, we see a patch of coral, we jump in on it and then we name the dive site. Stretching for 55km the coastline of Oe-Cusse has a mixed topography. With the prevailing Indonesian through flow running East to West, outside of the dry season, anything down current of the Tono river is unlikely to be suitable for diving, as river sediment runs off into the ocean. So to give ourselves the best chance of discovering dive sites we will be focussing our exploratory efforts on the mountain backed stretch of coastline here between the city of Pante Macassar and the Indonesian border to the East. So this is diving how it should be; this here is our playground and somewhere here, beneath the waves are our dive sites. For our first descent of the day we rocked up to a random patch of reef, donned our gear and jumped in. Descending past the colourful coral reef we came to a large sandy slope that, little did we know, was stuffed full of stingrays. Stingrays like to spend their time snuggled down in the sand waiting for potential prey. With their mouths squashed against the substrate, stingrays use unique openings behind their eyes called spiracles to keep water pumping over their gills, allowing them to breathe whilst in stealth mode. When either prey, potential predators, or even photographers approach the rays make a break for it… Gliding away like a marine magic carpet. Another stunning dive. Blue spotted rays everywhere, so I shall name this site 50 Shades of Ray. After discovering our second site 50 Shades of Ray – we started to get into the swing of things. I think this looks as good a place as any. We’ve got reef beneath us, amazing visibility, empty beach, mountain backdrop. Right, shall we kit up? Let’s do this. Nudibranchs everywhere, including one nudibranch that I have always wanted to see. Very beautiful though. I shall call this site… Nudist Reef. So Robert we go with the current or against the current? That’s definitely with the current – nice plan. AG: Looks like… candyfloss. JA: Candyfloss? AG: Candyfloss. JA: I can’t do the acting… Candyfloss?! Really?! Does it?! AG: I will name this site Candyfloss Corner. Bowl of Spam there Juvi? Important to keep your energy levels up between dives. So sometimes you just have to sit back and take it all in. Out here on the high seas with my best mates, with this backdrop, diving on sites that have never been seen before by almost anyone. Very lucky. Massive coral outcrops everywhere, sponges all over the reef. I shall name this dive site Barrels and Bommies. On the MV Atauro we have our own chef, Veronica, who is even making us toasted paninis. 5-Star service at its best. I’s a good thing we followed Robert’s advice on the last dive. He was definitely right to go with the current there. I love Oé-Cusse. Then one morning, whilst busy expeditioning we came across an old adversary… We’re on our way to the dive site and here, framed by this beautiful mountain backdrop we have what we think is a school of pygmy spinner dolphins. And it looks like they might be feeding. Just gonna wait for them now and see what they’re doing. Yeah they’re still, still hanging around. So it looks as if the dolphins are staying close to us, which means they might be hunting. So we know from past experiences that getting in water footage of the dolphins here in Timor-Leste is not an easy task but gotta be in it to win it so… oooohhh! Out the water! Right I’m getting in. Here we go again… Swimming in close ranks, it appears the dolphins are herding fish into the shallow water next to the beach. Corralling fish is a common hunting tactic for dolphins. By trapping the fish between the reef and the surface the dolphins have a better chance of catching their dinner. And whilst the dolphins seemed to be successfully catching fish – we could barely catch a glimpse of them. So we tried. Same again, we could get to maybe 5, 6 metres of them – no closer than that. Thankfully we’ve got the drone. I actually saw at one moment a spinner came out right in front of us. Did you get that on camera? JA: Of course! Woooo! There we are. Who needs to get in water footage when you’ve got a drone? WFG: Us. We do actually… we do. After another dose of dolphin déjà vu, we headed ashore and met up with a local fisherman, Gradus who could hopefully confirm our suspicions about what the dolphins were up to. AG: So how often do you see the dolphins here? AG: Do you see them every day? G: If the ocean is good or calm they can play for two weeks or one week. AG: And do you see them very close to shore here? G: Not too far, right here about 30 metres from the shore. AG: 30 metres, so they’re right here. AG: Ok, very close to shore. AG: How do you feel about the dolphins being here? G: If we see them playing we take out our camera and take a photo, just take a photo. just take a photo. G: Because this is their place, every single day they play around this place if the ocean is calm. AG: So it’s clear that the fishermen here really love having the dolphins around and when the weather is good they’re seeing them almost every single day. And as we’ve seen from the boat, the dolphins here are probably fishing So based on this I shall call this site… Spinner’s Dinner. Because they’re you know they’re spinner dolphins and they’re eating… Spinner, dinner… And with yet another new site marked down on our map – I felt satisfied with what we’d accomplished. Thanks to our efforts, scuba divers worldwide can now come and enjoy the underwater world of Oé-Cusse without the challenges of not knowing where to dive. And, if they get luckier than us, can even get up close to some resident dolphins. Ok, enough of that. Next time on Expedition Oé-Cusse! Bertie and the …from Below explorers hear some tall tales about the underwater world. Ride in the back of a jeep along the world’s bumpiest road. And join a community as they sacrifice a pig to a crocodile they believe is their ancestor. Never a dull moment here in Timor-Leste. Stay tuned for more Timor-Leste from Below!