Komodo Back Again
What a start for the Komodo season, the Indo Siren was on the way from Makassar to Bima when the news reached us that the volcano Sangeang has erupted. Sangeang being on our route and in close vicinity to Bima and Komodo it had a great impact on our tour and the cruise. All flights were canceled to Bima but a window of opportunity opened when Labuan Bajo airport declared itself open for business after a 3 day closure. We decided to reroute all guests to Labuan Bajo and bring the boat overnight to Flores. With all guests on board we started our Komodo adventure diving Bida Dari and Sebayur Kecil.
On the second day we moved deeper into the park to Tatawa Besar and upon arrival you could see on the surface that we had a strong current with the rising sun from the east, perfect condition for this wonderful and colorful reef. Next stop Bato Bolong, smack in the middle of current city, we aimed for slack and were able to explore the entire block, schooling fish pulsating in and out of their hiding places while jacks and giant trevallies, long nose emperors hunting in packs. Next highlight for the day was Makassar Reef; a 2 mile long stretch of reef looking like a dried up river bed of rubble, also known as Manta highway. We were treated to more than 15 Mantas, white tip reef sharks sleeping and black tips cruising the river bed. The absolute highlight was I saw a Dugong underwater, but with the milky visibility it was hard to know what I was pointing at let alone get any photographic proof. Last but not least Wainiloo, the best night dive site in the north of Komodo, a true critter heaven. We had 3 painted frog fish in their pink and red period, lots of different crabs and hermits and pockets, nudibranchs, just a great finish for the day.
Day Three started off with the dragon walk on Rinca. We went early to the ranger station to be greeted with and icy sugar coating of volcano ash all over the island. But as June is the early start of the mating season we had some great Komodo Dragon action, even some juveniles climbed down the trees to forage the forest floor. We then motored down to Padar Island for three amazing dives in the 25C green water, seeing schools of Mobular rays, reefs overgrown with soft coral and tunicates, yellow sea cucumbers and bushes of black coral feeding, giving shelter to millions of glass fish. Just amazing, giant frog fish, leaf fish and solar power nudi branch just one of the many highlights of the Indian ocean. Overnight we stayed in Padar and set out for Nusa Kode early the next morning.
Day Four. All alone in the deep south we started with the best Cannibal Rock. An awesome dive site submerged in the channel over grown with soft coral, tunicates, sponges, and whip coral, the site teams with life from schools of glass fish, sardines and fusiliers, feather stars in all colors, sea urchins and sea cucumbers as far as the visibility allowed to look. The next dive at Boulders, we found the Rhinopia again (the same purple one as our 2013 season) as well as sea moth and plenty of nudis. Whilst our night dive at Torpedo Alley with wonderpus octopus, pygmy squids and octopus, bobtail squid, crabs in all varieties and a bobbit worm! In between we visited the Komodo dragons on the beach next to our mooring.
Day Five. We woke up to Jurassic Park setting in Horse Shoe Bay. Big black clouds trying to make it over the Rinca mountain chain that frames the bay and strong gusty winds funneled up the channel from the Indian Ocean. Repeating the dive sites of the previous day we once again saw our lacy scorpion fish but also ghost pipefish, giant frogfish and an array of schooling fish. After the third dive we left Nusa Kode and motored back to Komodo. The setting sun illuminating the rocky shores of Rinca. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and all guests sat with a Bintang on the sundeck for the view and mood.
Day Six. Just after sunrise we set out for Manta Alley and for a moment it was touch and go. Big waves and wind when we came out of the protected bay of our night mooring. But we held on and strapped everything down and were rewarded with three awesome dives with up to 15 Mantas on the cleaning station. After the third dive we head back up north to Pink Beach for the night dive, on the way we all sat on the sundeck and enjoyed the wonderful sunset over Komodo. On Pink Beach we had leaf fish and painted frog fish as well as Spanish dancers and a nurse shark, what a way to end Another exciting day on Indo Siren.
Day Seven. Back up in the north with once again warm clear water we started the day with Batu Bolong one more time at slack. Awesome dive with crystal clear water and the whole rock to our disposal. Clouds and clouds of Anthias, indo pacific sergeant fish and red tooth trigger fish, moon wrasses and angel fish feeding on the eggs of the sergeant fish! Colorful and alive. Afterwards we went for Makassar Reef once more and Golden Passage between Komodo and Gili Lawa Darat. For the night dive we went to Spanish Dancer Heaven on Gili Lawa Laut and were treated with foot long nudis and 5 bumblebee shrimp in a basket star. What a finish!
Day Eight. We returned to Golden Passage followed by Shot Gun seeing leaf fish and bagibanti pygmy sea horses, schools of black snappers in the canyon and a good ride down the barrels of the shot gun. Our third dive of the day was at Castle Rock where we made a negative descent down to the plateau on 25 meters to hang with the white tips and grey reef sharks. On the way to the safety stop we had a bamboo shark and a stone fish! Last dive for the day we went for Crystal Rock at sunset. Golden light underwater hunting giant trevallies and white tip reef sharks, schools of surgeon fish and big eyed trevallies. Reef octopus and leaf fish next to an amazing colorful reef with orange and yellow, pink and purple soft coral, just beautiful. When we came up we saw the peaks of Sangeang volcano and the smoke billowing out of its crater. What a sight and natural spectacle.
Day Nine. Castle Rock for slack in the morning seeing grey reef sharks, white tips and bamboo shark. After Shot Gun one more time and this time we had baby Mantas in the barrel playing with us in the current. What a superb finish for this cruise, thank you all! We returned to Bima late that evening passing Sangeang that seemed to have cooled down a bit. Fingers crossed for the next few trips that it stays this way!
Photos by Elias Sinderson