Exploring the Banda Sea
Flores-Raja Ampat; Exploring the Banda Sea
October 28 rolled in and it was time to embark on our long transition from Flores to Raja Ampat. The crew and I welcomed our 16 guests from Wirodive Tauch- und Erlebnisreisen, Germany and after the first of many delicious meals; we began on our cruise across the Banda Sea. There are many places with anemones, some are big, some are small, some have clownfish in them some don’t, some are red some pink or green or white but never was I blown away by the site of seeing not hundreds or thousands, but trust me on this one, millions of anemones. Clown Valley or Anemone City, as some call it, deserves its name! The sloping bottom is covered in a carpet of mostly knobby sea anemones in various colors. Funnily enough only one species of clownfish inhabits what seems like a clownfish heaven. The Clark’s Clownfish rule the waters around Pura Island!
To be honest I was a little nervous when I heard that we are diving at a place called Gunung Api where there are hundreds of sea snakes guarding the waters around this beautiful bird island. Now I don’t have anything against snakes or sea snakes for that fact but the idea of diving with hundreds of them was not my idea of fun. This all changed after rolling off the dingy… ok maybe after half an hour into the dive… when I knew these guys are not out to bite me. They were curious for sure but as soon as there was another snake of the opposite sex around they would go and chase them. When the time was up, I really didn’t want to leave this place!
Maolana Jetty was voted favorite night dive of the trip. This is right at the doorstep of Maolana hotel on Banda Ngera. You don’t even have to stick you head in the water to see why this would be a great dive. From the surface you can see the vibrant colors of the mandarin fish. At this time of day, just around sunset, they are scanning the rocks for possible mates. Once they found a suitable partner and really they are not picky at all, they perform a little dance, side by side they swim up and in a matter of seconds they quickly part. Not for long though, they keep going until its dark, they may find some other partners, but for us it’s a perfect photo opportunity. During our long but extremely smooth crossings, guests entertained themselves with reading many, many books, watching movies, chilling on the sundeck, editing pictures and an occasional snooze:)
As soon as we approach the islands of the Bandas you feel the European influence, most of the original settlement of the Portuguese still stands. They say it still looks the same as it did 400years ago. After the Dutch conquered the fort Belgica they colonized the islands and traded spices such as nutmeg. We visited the fort and the local nutmeg plantation where we sampled the delicacies of the island. Of course we left with our bags filled with spices before it was time once again for the Indo Siren to depart for the Misool in South Raja Ampat. And what a spectacular area it is! Surrounded by thousands of fusiliers, barracudas, surgeonfish, batfish the dives simply took our breath away. We even encountered wobbegong and a walking epaulette shark.
After 14 nights it was time to say our goodbyes to this group of exploration divers, some being lucky enough to spend a few more days diving in Indonesia and some went straight home, but for us a season in Raja Ampat awaits!! Thank you all for a wonderful crossing and Sampa jumpa lagi!