Descending into the underworld

Last updated 13:27 06/11/2013

In Indonesia’s Lembeh Strait, the mission is to film as many strange creatures as possible.

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Canadian Scott Wilson and Kiwi Ellis Emmett have been where no men have been before.

An 18 month trip took them to some of the world's remotest dive locations - many of which have only recently been discovered.

Scott and Ellis chronicle these travels as co-hosts of a show, Descending on the Travel Channel. We'll catch up with them each week about the destinations they've been to.

In the final week,the team travel to Indonesia's Lembeh Strait. The mission is to film as many strange creatures as they can find.

The team concludes their year-long journey on the remote island of Vanuatu to dive one of the greatest shipwrecks in the world and reflect on their underwater adventures.

We chat to Scott about this incredible experience.

What was your favourite dive from this episode?

It has to be the President Coolidge in Vanuatu! It is easily one of the top three wrecks of the year and one of the top in the world to dive. It's a massive converted ocean-going cruise ship converted to troop and cargo transport for WWII.

 How did you get there? 

This episode was split between Indonesia and Vanuatu. Raja Ampat requires flying through Jakarta and Menado onto Sorong and then a few hours by boat from there.

Vanuatu is most easily reached from New Zealand and Australia direct.

 What diving risks were you concerned about in this location?

The wreck of the Coolidge is one of the best shore dives you can ask for.

Walk off the beach and swim only a few metres to the start of the wreck. However, the captain beached it on a very extreme slope so the wreck starts in about 60 ft but the stern is over 200.

Most of the interesting things on this wreck are 100+ feet down so your bottom time gets eaten up quickly.

Those trained for decompression diving will be able to get the most here. As always, watch your bottom time, as there is plenty to see, and go with a guide as the wreck is very easy to get lost in.

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 What's one thing every traveller should try there? 

In the Indonesia portion of our show, you'll see how rewarding the diving in North Sulawesi can be.

Close to shore and urbanisation, the surface may not be so inviting, but trust me the most amazing creatures are waiting to be photographed just a few feet below the waves.

What should you avoid in this destination?

I'd say avoid the scenic flight on the light aircraft!

Did anything go wrong on a dive?

Not on a dive, but while having an aerial view of the remote area of Raja Ampat I was unlucky enough to be involved in a plane crash.

After flying low over the water we passed some dugongs and wanted a better view.

The pilot reefed back on the sick to gain altitude, but bled off too much airspeed and when we banked right to get the view, the airplane stalled and we plummeted a few hundred feet into the ocean.

Luckily we both managed to undo our harnesses as the wreckage was sinking and swim out to the surface. We waited for rescue sitting on a pontoon that had broken off the wreckage.

Luckily, only lots of scrapes and gouges out of my body. A few minutes earlier while over shallow coral and it wouldn't have turned out so well. 

What's the coolest thing you saw?

Just about every creature you see day or night on a dive in Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi. Imagine dreaming up the craziest space creature you can, now draw it on a piece of paper.

Have a dive in Lembeh and you are sure to find that creature. It's a magic place.

Watch the final episode of Descending tonight, Wednesdays, 8.30pm on the Travel Channel.

- Stuff


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