Rhinopious,mantas and Komodos. What else?

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Rhinopious,mantas and Komodos. What else?   

This week the Indo Siren was happy to welcome aboard 15 divers from Underwater Phantaseas. Some were return customers; others keen to experience this type of diving for themselves.
Their first morning was gorgeous for their checkout dive at Techno Reef and they sharpened their dive skills through the next two sites—The Estuary and K2—marveling at how healthy and colorful the reefs were and the diversity of the teeny nudibranchs. That debut night dive at Circus was the first time many of these divers had ever seen stargazers and they were delighted with their sandy camouflage techniques!

barrelSpongeCoral Garden, on the next morning, was stunning. The vibrantly colored coral heads and schools of brilliant fish were breathtaking. On to Castle Rock where the outcropping lies just beneath the surface. White tip reef sharks punctuated huge schools of fusiliers. Shotgun was the most exciting dive of the trip. Some divers suited up for the night dive at Spanish Dancer heaven and enjoyed it!
The sunshine of the next day lit up Golden Passage and highlighted the richness of its colors and creatures. Schooling bumphead parrot fish, whitetips, and turtles added their brilliance to that of their tiny nudi counterparts. The divers grabbed their reef hooks so they could enjoy Crystal Rock. The wall was deep in incredibly beautiful orange/ochre/yellow soft and hard corals. The currents were ripping at Batu Bolong, but the dive was worth the work! Two huge morays in a crevasse and four more along the reef made it memorable! Such an incredible day wore everyone out and we started celebrating the day’s sites early with Bintang beer and gin & tonics!

Komodoshark-WongWe started out the next day with a woosh of excitement at Tatawa Besar! Divers literally flew over the rich colors and plentiful creatures on this reef for about 25 minutes, then hung out and enjoyed turtles and whitetips and more. Tatawa Kecil was a great complement to the previous dive with its currents and colors. Divers explored the reef and its pinnacles, hung around in their chosen vantage points. Corridors teeming with schools of GTs and Jacks were so very impressive. Current City’s Makassar Reef was quiet today with a nurse shark and a couple of turtles. The night dive at Wainilu was a big draw as divers tried to see mandarin fish mating, but apparently it wasn’t date night for them! It was date night for a couple of large cuttle fish, but they turned shy with the camera and video lights. Still a fun adventure with frogfish and teeny creatures braving the dark.

white-frogfishThe much anticipated dragon walk at the sanctuary on Rinca Island was scheduled for the next day. The group picked its way through the park’s paths and took plenty of pictures of a half dozen dragons doing their thing. A couple of deer and a huge group of monkeys were also in attendance. Time to dive now and time to dive in cooler water. Divers added their layers or switched to the 7mm wetsuits for the first dive at Tiga Dara. The current was ripping, but was a good introduction to diving in the southern part of the islands. Next up was Cannibal Rock in Nusa kode, it was amazing! Two huge frogfish—one black, one grey—and an overhang with several cat sharks were the stars of this dive. On the surface interval the dingy drivers took divers to see dragons and monkeys on the beach. The night dive at Torpedo Alley starred torpedo rays. The grey sand was perfect cover for a wealth of creatures. Cuttlefish and squid also showed themselves in dive lights!
A momentous day was waiting for some of us: their first rhinopious! The little guys were at about 90 Feet, but well worth the trip. A cat shark sighting at the end punctuated the experience. Awesome! A revisit to Cannibal Rock was welcome; the reef proved as rich and gorgeous as the first time! A couple of divers hadn’t had enough so they ventured to the wreck of Loh Serah for a night dive treat. They weren’t disappointed. A huge crocodile fish and lots of pipefish and decorator welcomed them.

Komodomanta2What’s better than one manta dive?! Three manta dives on the next day with many manta fly-bys! As if those three dives weren’t enough, a night dive off Pink Beach turned into an extended adventure. The highlight was a sea apple that sported two stars at its base: a teeny yellow frogfish and an even teenier black frogfish. Bobtail squid, a mini crocodile fish, a tiny scorpion fish, and tiny stargazers were in abundance!

Great to return warmers waters and to Batu Bolong again! A huge map puffer fish and a banded sea snake punctuated this dive. Followed by a second dive at Shotgun then a return trip to Castle Rock so the group could revisit the yellows and golds of this impressive site. The night dive at Coral Garden showed all the usual suspects—the last night dive of the trip.
A final dive at Bonto Reef gave the group one last chance to marvel at the colors and creatures of Komodo at their leisure!

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