Manta Magic – An Exciting return to Komodo

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Komodo

Image courtesy of Siren Fleet

After nearly a year absence from Komodo I returned to my favorite diving destination and like last year on the Palau Siren, I got to enjoy the brand new Siren Fleet liveaboard the S/Y P. Siren. Frank put a lot of effort into the boat building, together with his father Jan and mother Annie – they really nailed it! The yacht is simply stunning.

Our first guests arrived in Bima after a few days relaxing in Bali and were ready to explore Komodo’s underwater realm. After our briefings and the safety drill the dinghies took us out to our first dive site “The Unusual Suspects”. Much to be expected from the last seasons diving here we encountered thorny seahorse, ornate ghost pipefish and many other critters. Captain Daeng had an early start the following day, weighing anchor at 3 am, to get us to Sangeang Island in time for our next day of diving.

I always look forward to see how dive sites change over time; however when we visited “Techno Reef”, “The Estuary” and “Hot Rocks” all the amazing life was still there including pygmy seahorses, a variety of nudibranchs, xeno crabs and octopus as well as the luminous anemones and bubbling sea bed. The weather was as fantastic as the diving and during our crossing to Gilli Banta everybody enjoyed a relaxing siesta. As a change from the dark sand, we spent our night dive at “The Circus”. With its white sandy slope this site is always superb at night with stargazers, octopus, sting rays and hunting lion fish.

Lady Bugs

Image courtesy of Siren Fleet

The next morning, our first “Komodo Diving Day”, got underway with a dive at “Coral Garden” where we encountered our first white tip shark, Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish and a beautiful pair of white leaf fish. By now we were up for some more big fish action and Gili Lawa Laut delivered! At “Castle Rock” the current was just right bringing big fish to the eastern point. Alex and I directed the dinghies to the correct spot and after the 3-2-1 everybody went back rolled making a negative descent and hooked-in in 25m (85ft) to enjoy the fish parade.  In the afternoon we visited “Shotgun”, the outgoing tide meant that the current was pushing us through the gap between Gilli Lawa Laut and Gilli Lawa Derat, so a speedy drift was expected – Great Fun and we were rewarded with sightings of two Mobula rays and numerous turtles. The day finished up with a thunderstorm but we were cosy and dry inside and actually enjoyed the cool breeze the rain brought.

Komodo Dragon

No Ordinary Zoo – Komodo Dragon. Image courtesy of Siren Fleet

Sunday morning was time for “Crystal Rock”. The best time to visit this site is with slack tide and we managed this just right. White tip and grey reef sharks cruised around the pinnacle and some large Napoleon wrasse and giant trevallies provided some great photo opportunities. Next up was “Makassar Reef” and as always we had a look if some of the “big birds” that come in to get cleaned at this site. Well what a start of the season….. we saw at least 12 beautiful manta rays during our drift dive. It is always amazing to see how gentle the mantas are and how effortlessly they swim. Back on board it was smiling faces all around. Instead of the afternoon dive we opted to visit Rinca Island for the Dragon Walk, which was a real adventure after all the rain from the night before. Muddy is an understatement. Then in the evening our dive guides Ungke, Alex and Timo showed off their spotting skills at “Dragon Besar” finding Mandarin fish, frogfish and pygmy cuttlefish.

After a day with large fish action we headed south towards “Nusa Kode”, with a stop at Padar Bay to dive “Tiga Dara” and to really get a feeling of what the diving in the south is like. Its truly amazing to arrive in Nusa Kode and be the only boat there and even better the water was surprisingly still 27⁰C (81F) warm! First up was “Cannibal Rock” and later in the afternoon “Torpedo Alley” and of course we visited the dragons on the beach. We stayed for two days here in Nusa Kode to give enough time to explore the magnificent macro life this area has to offer. Ladybugs, ghost pipefish and frogfish could be ticked off the list. After our seventh dive we crossed back to Komodo for the evening dive at “Phinisi” Wreck. The next day was “Big Bird Day” as the P Siren moved to “Manta Alley”. Nine mantas stayed with us for 45 min, cruising all round our groups so once again the happy divers returned to the yacht with big smiles. As the dive was so great our group decided to stay the whole day at this one spot and bask in the glory of manta rays – each dive they swam around us we couldn’t get enough! For our night dive we headed back north and eagle eyed Ungke spotted bobtail squid, frogfish and a variety of crabs and shrimps plus yes a flamboyant cuttlefish!!!

Group Photo

Image courtesy of Siren Fleet

A morning dive at “Pink Beach” then we headed back into Current City with its colorful reefs to dive “Batu Bolong and “Tatawa Besar” before returning to Gili Lawa Laut and some more shark action. Strong current supported an amazing drift at the “Shotgun” and plenty of fish life was seen at Castle & Crystal Rocks. As we cruised back to Gili Banta the 7 sails were hoisted and the P Siren was shown in her full pride giving our guests the opportunity to get some great photos. Our last dive of the trip at “K2” gave another manta sighting – a fond farewell to this awesome group from Australia. As always on the last evening our chefs Agus and Suprioni created a delicious spread with BBQ meats & king prawns and plenty of side dishes, full from not only this meal but 10 days of eating heartily, we all retreated into the salon to watch the best pictures of the trip and start planning the next adventure.  SAMPAI JUMPA LAGI from our Indonesia Liveaboard crew!

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About Author

Thomas and Susie have been involved in the Scuba Diving Industry for over 10 years travelling the world to work and dive in such far flung places as Honduras, the Canary Islands & Red Sea before finally settling down to a life of fun and laughs in Thailand, where they are both employed by the Siren Fleet of luxury liveaboards. Thomas, as PADI Course Director, heads up the diving operations of the fleet as well as running trips in Indonesia, the Maldives, the Philippines, Palau and Fiji. He’s looking forward to setting up the new operation in Truk Lagoon in 2014 too! Meanwhile Susie, PADI IDCS, is more “office-bound” these days and focusses on the marketing & dive shows, but she still gets to take at least 2 liveaboard trips each year. Learn more about Thomas and Susie at: http://www.thescubanews.com/contributors/thomas-and-susie-erbe/

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