The Indo Siren and her crew was happy to welcome this week guests from six countries spread across three continents for nine days of spectacular diving in the Komodo Marine Park. The first dive of the trip set a high bar as our keen-eyed guides spotted a freckled frogfish, arrow crabs, golden mantis shrimp and several flabellinanudibranchs at Sangeang’sBonto Reef. A late morning dive at Techno Reef brought a huge reef octopus as well as candy crabs and thecaceranudibranchs. And the night dive at Circus once again proved to be a crowd pleaser, especially among the photographers in our group, with multiple stargazers, pygmy cuttlefish and a white “V” octopus making the dark sands their stage.
Our divers greeted the morning after by descending into the waters of GiliMonco’s Coral Garden, where 40-meter visibility, white tip reef sharks and bumphead parrot fish awaited. Then the Indo Siren sailed on to GiliLawaLaut and the spectacular one-two punch of Crystal Rock and Castle Rock: napoleons, white tips and giant trevallies , Zanzibar whip coral shrimp and some bargibanti pygmy seahorses. Big stuff. Small stuff. Happy divers. Komodo scuba in a nutshell! At Shotgun we had an exhilarating dive with white tips, eagle rays and a reef manta.
The Indo Siren then continued south to Current City, home to the brilliantly colorful BatuBolong. Conditions on this day were mild enough for our divers to spend quality time with numerous napoleons and a dozy white tip. Makassar Reef provided a marble ray, a nurse shark and two spotted eagle rays. Then it was back to the small stuff with a sunset dive at the photographer’s paradise of Wainilu, where mandarin fish and picturesque dragonets rise from the shelter of coral rubble towards the waning light.
The second half of our cruise saw us enter the cooler “green water” of Rinca’sNusa Kode (aka Horseshoe Bay), home to numerous dive sites renowned for stunning diversity. At Boulders, an orangutan crab and several tambja and chromodorisnudis stood out from the brilliant coral coverage on the rocks that give the site its name. At Cannibal Rock we had cat sharks, giant frogfish, nudis and abundant crustaceans.Others clearly agreed and we decided to return to Cannibal Rock for a second dive, which proved to be as good as the first.
The following day, our divers marveled at the soft coral coverage of Yellow Wall of Texas. No less amazing was the 10-centimeter ceratosomamagnificumnudibranch spotted by one of our guides and a ceratosomamagnificumnudibranch, which was camped out next to its egg ribbon just a bit farther along the wall.
We arrived on the next morning to Manta Alley and discovered that we were the only liveaboard in the area. We spotted about six or seven mantas on the first dive and a train of 9 mantas on the second one!
As the Indo Siren returned to the warmer waters farther north, we stopped to enjoy the lush coral coverage of TigaDara (aka the Three Sisters) before revisiting the magnificent blue water sites of BatuBalong, Shotgun and Castle Rock for another taste of shark and manta action. But, as you might have gathered, we were having some excellent luck with nudibranchs on this cruise.
In Bima Bay, there are two dive sites, Nudi Reef and The Unusual Suspects, that should be near the top of the list for any macro enthusiast.