Underwater sphere images offer a whole new perspective for underwater scenic photography. After 40 years or more of close-up specimen shots and little glimpses of parts of a coral reef, we can now enjoy the feeling of being there, hovering over the astonishing crystal jungle of corals and turning around, amazed at the abundance and variety of life around us.
Ilot Ua is one of the lagoon islands within the world's largest coral reef lagoon, the World Heritage Site New Caledonia Lagoon.
In New Caledonia's southern lagoon each small tropical lagoon island is surrounded by a fringing reef. These fringing reefs are almost awash on top at low tide and then they drop straight down to 6 or even 10 metres. Pinnacles of coral often grow just off the fringing reef and I stopped on one of these pinnacles to take this underwater scenic panorama of the reef face.
Frederique dove down about half way to the bottom to give you a sense of the size of the reef face.
It must have been the breeding season for sardines - or perhaps they were anchovies - for great shoals of them flowed around us.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.