Friday, 19 December 2008

Fantastic ET

Media Release: 19.12.08
Timor a Global Hotspot for Whales and Dolphins
A recent major scientific field survey has revealed the deep oceans off the fledgling nation of Timor-Leste are proving to be a global hotspot and major migratory corridor for whales and dolphins.
The project is a joint partnership involving the Government of Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NRETAS) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), and was the first ocean-going scientific research trip undertaken by researchers from the Northern Territory and Timor-Leste.
AIMS Project Leader Dr Mark Meekan said the survey was the first major boat-based survey of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in Timor-Leste and follows six months of intensive aerial surveys of marine wildlife including whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, turtles and crocodiles along Timor coasts by NRETAS, AIMS and Timorese researchers.
NRETAS marine biodiversity Principal Scientist Professor Karen Edyvane said the survey recorded more than 1,000 individuals in eight separate pods over a mere 50km stretch of coast in a single day of observations.
"This is among the highest level of cetacean abundance ever recorded," Professor Edyvane said.
"Not only has the trip revealed the amazing cetacean abundance and diversity of Timor-Leste, but it also demonstrates Timor-Leste’s interest in marine science and its strong commitment to protecting and managing its unique marine biodiversity."
Territory and Timorese observers, including NRETAS marine wildlife experts Ray Chatto and Dr Kiki Dethmers, and Timorese researcher Jose Monteiro identified approximately 10 species of cetaceans, including Blue whales, Beaked whales, Short-finned Pilot whales, Melon Headed whales and six species of dolphins including Risso’s dolphin, Fraser’s dolphin, Spotted dolphin, Rough-toothed dolphin, Spinner dolphin and the Bottlenose dolphin.
"The dolphins and small whales were literally jumping out of the water all around us – it was hard to know which animal to photograph," Mr Monteiro said.
"It is vital that Timor-Leste continues this important scientific research to gain a better understanding of these magnificent but sensitive creatures and ensure that these cetacean populations are properly protected."
Professor Edyvane said one day in particular, with glass-like sea conditions, pods of over 300-400 individuals were recorded by observers.
"We were all amazed to see such an abundance, diversity and density of cetaceans," she said.
"The seasonal east-west migration of the large whales confirms what several cetologists have long suspected – that the deep oceanic waters off Timor, along the Wetar and Ombai Strait, is a major migratory route between the Pacific and Indian Ocean for marine wildlife."
Unlike many ocean scientific voyages in Australia, the survey in Timor was conducted aboard a traditional 20 metre wooden Indonesian vessel, the Timor Tiger – the first vessel in Timor to be registered for scientific marine research. Café e Floressta Agricultura Pescas Loro Matan Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport Anne Marshall Ph. 8999 4730
"The Timor Tiger was a great research vessel for cetacean observations – multi-level, viewing platforms and local Timorese crew and observers that could spot animals at great distances," Professor Edyvane said.
Mr Celestino Barreto de Cunha, Director of Fisheries Management with Timor’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said that the discovery was indeed very exciting for Timor-Leste but it also presented many challenges.
"The Government of Timor-Leste recognises the enormous potential for marine ecotourism along its coast and will proceed very carefully in the development of this industry," Mr Barreto de Cunha said.
"We are committed to ensuring that this marine biodiversity is protected and we will continue to look to Australia to provide good scientific advice on developing a sustainable marine ecotourism industry and in particular, through our unique collaboration with marine researchers from the Northern Territory."
The survey was funded by the Government of Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and are part of an ongoing program of coastal and marine conservation, research, monitoring and training projects being undertaken by Northern Territory and Timor-Leste researchers including NRETAS, AIMS, Charles Darwin University and Timor-Leste MAF scientists, with a view to developing sustainable marine industries and much needed regional employment and economic development.
To view the images of the recent cetacean survey in Timor-Leste go to and select East Timor Whale and Dolphin Survey.
For more information on the Government of Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries go to

For some great pictures go to this link:


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Nautilus - Because You're Worth It

Well, we’ve been waiting for it for a while now and we’ve all had a bit of a sticky-beak when we’ve been driving past but at long last the new restaurant on the beach road in Pantai Kalapa has finally opened.
It’s called ‘Nautilus’ and I can honestly say it was well worth the wait.
Situated about 50 metres east of the Hotel Esplanada, it has great sea views, easy parking and a constant breeze passing through. The music is laid-back blues and jazz, the staff are attentive and discreet and the décor is to die for. It’s a place Dili has needed for a long time now.
Owned and managed by R and B (like the music) ‘Nautilus’ offers a menu that should suit most tastes. On the (opening) night Mrs. FOS and I went there about 40 people were enjoying the food and very reasonably priced drinks. As the evening wore on the numbers increased up to around 70 or so and the place still didn’t seem over-crowded or too noisy.
After a couple of ice cold beers ($2.50 each) we ordered our meal. The starter was a dozen Oyster Kilpatrick to share and I wish we had ordered two dozen. We followed that with sirloin steak for myself and duck for Mrs FOS, both superb, accompanied by a great bottle of Pinot Noir. It’s one of those places where the napkins are cotton, there is no plastic and the furniture is good solid wood and very comfortable. All the while the staff were on hand but unobtrusive. Ashtrays were emptied immediately (yeah, I know, we shouldn’t smoke anyway), table’s were cleared and the booze didn’t come in cans or bottles. I loved it. Oh, and the dunny’s are spotless and have their own special attendants just like in the real world. Mrs FOS told me that it was the type of place where she could walk in as a lone female and not feel out of place, intimidated or threatened. High praise indeed.
At the moment ‘Nautilus’ will be open from 3pm for drinks and then the kitchen opens at 6pm for dinner. I understand from R and B that it will be open for lunch in the New Year. I wish it was sooner. The only problem I have at the moment is that my favourite place in the restaurant seems to be the favourite place for everybody else. (See picture) It’s a great place to chill out, have a great dinner and/or after dinner drinks.
For those of you with a design bent (and I know a few of you out there have a certain bent) you must check out the floor designs. Hand crafted, Timorese inspired and very very original.
What more can I say? I love the place and Dili needs it. Let’s hope it raises the standards for everyone.

The discreet entrance ( I love a discreet entrance)

My favourite place

Happy Eaters