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|Newsletter October 2012|
Update from Komodo
Hi To All!
Just back from an awesome week of diving in Komodo. Sail fin snapper (150+) aggregation at castle rock, patrolled by a couple of grey reef sharks and a dozen white tips and heaps of other fish there too. Schools of blue fin and giant trevally hunting fusiliers. The spawning season for reef fish is starting in Komodo. An aggregation of some 150 large long nosed emperors at Pengah Kecil, all displaying, color changing and chasing each other around. Heaps of other fish there too. Marbled groupers displaying and color changing at Batu Bolong and other sites, coral trout displaying at Tatawa Besar. Dazzling dive at Tatawa Kecil as well.
Found 2 new dive sites this week, one with dozens of large green turtles on a reef north of Karang Makassar. I think the greens hang out here before moving to Sebita at night to feed on seagrass there. First time we find a site with consistent green turtles in Komodo, they were there at least the whole week. Also a new long drift dive with great hard coral formations on white sand, making incredible colors. Very healthy and old colonies, covered in swarms of neon blue damsels and orange anthias. Some big fish too, black tip reefs in the shallows, GTs, and cuttle fish laying eggs. Down south it was getting a bit warmer already and we had some great dives in Padar for example. Excellent critter dives at night at Wainilu. Lots of frog fish there. All great stuff that makes me even more enthusiastic over the plans for South Komodo charters in 2013-2014 North West season.
Made me realize again that October - March is the reef fish spawning and aggregation season, of which we have just witnessed the start. And that we have always had most excellent diving in Komodo in the period October - May, before we did our Raja Ampat cruises in that season. Down south clearing up and warm, with calm waters there providing access to lots of sites rarely dived during the South East season. Mantas on Karang Makassar (and also still down south this month), which is easily accessible during any season, along with the rest of the sites in central Komodo. The far north sometimes affected by North Westerlies in January-February, but not every day and mostly in the afternoons. So most of the fish sites can still be dived there also on most days during that season.
Mark is checking out down south right now on an exploratory charter with a group on Seven Seas. Bit early perhaps, with still thick water down there. Upside of that is that all the soft corals were out and the colors at South Padar amazing. Clouds of zooplankton bringing in everything to feed.
Probably the most diverse cruises that we will be offering are the Komodo cruises during the North West season, with great critters, invertebrates, fish (behavior!) and mantas. We still have several cruises available for charter there, between January and March of 2014. Great diving for sure and not too many divers yet! For some more information take a look also at the DEEP SOUTH section on our Komodo destination page.
Trip Report East of Flores, Sept. 2012
By Barbara Price
After 26 hours of travel from San Francisco (having traveled from Boston, Detroit, the Cayman Islands, San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area) to Denpasar, Bali, we settled into the Santika Beach Hotel. The Seven Seas Bali staff had helped us expedite our visas on arrival - bypassing an hour of negotiating lines - choose a hotel, arrange airport transfers, and get us back to the airport and on our domestic airline two days later to fly to Maumere on Flores. Our group of ten were met by Karl Klingeler and Seven Seas crew members who wrangled our baggage and taxied us ten minutes to board the Seven Seas dive phinisi. For seven of our group this was a return trip to the Seven Seas. We were all happy to feel at home and greet so many friends on staff from a year before. We introduced our three newcomers and all quickly felt at home. We were the only passengers on board and we could hardly believe that this was our home for 11 days of cruising, diving and visiting local tribal villages.
On the first night, Karl gave us a thorough briefing on the boat, the diving and our itinerary which would be quite different from last year's trip to Komodo (west of Flores in the Nusa Tengara Archipelago). The dive deck is so well-organized and efficient with places to store our individual gear, hang our wet suits, dry our dive skins, rinse our masks and cameras, and receive our detailed dive briefings before boarding one of two dive tenders - preloaded with our tanks, BC's, weights and fins. All the diver has to do is get on Boat 1 or Boat 2 with mask in hand.
As was to be our standard procedure, we did our traveling at night and so as we went to sleep we were motoring 15 hours to Lembata. The Seven Seas moves through the water so surely and elegantly; it is rare to experience any seasickness. I slept like a baby every night - especially when we were motoring to our next destination.
We awakened anchored in front of an active volcano, belching white puffs of ash from the top. As was to be our daily habit, we were welcomed to eat a light breakfast of fruit and bread and coffee or tea before our first dive. Our checkout dive was Lembata Nera, a lovely aquarium of blue-tipped staghorn coral gardens. On this first dive we found the splendid dottyback, a black and orange-dotted nudibranch (nembrotha kubayana), two tiny pygmy seahorses (hippocampus denise), pipefish, pinnate batfish, a huge star pufferfish, spotted ray, school of sweetlips, 2 huge coral-banded shrimp. Don't worry - I won't list all my sightings - I only list these to illustrate how rich even the first dive was. Our group would come up after each dive and compare notes, paging through the vast library of fish and coral ID books aboard, annotating all our many finds.
We've got mail...from Charter Guest Ken Barker
"This is now our 3rd trip aboard Seven Seas and our second trip to Komodo where anyone who enjoys current diving with big fish are in the best dive area and they will not be disappointed. We had clear warm water and amazing marine life with lots of big fish with plenty Manta's without going to Manta Alley in the south Komodo as we saw them at “fish bowl' and one other dive in the warm waters around Lubuanbajo. Corrie also ran out of tapes on his video so he also got his full share of critters particularly on the night dives.
We all agreed that we had had “the best dive ever” each time we came up from a dive. Karl managed to get the timing right on every dive where the current allowed outstanding sightings of big fish and Manta's without being blown away by the current. 'Fish bow' was unbelievable with each dive very different and having a Manta's swimming past with resident huge GT's and a school of large Bump head Parrot fish seen on each dive was amazing.
Whilst in the airport at Bali we by chance spoke to a 'dive director' on one of the other Komodo boats (unfortunately did not get his name) but seeing our shirts he acknowledged that all Charters boats In Indonesia (in his opinion) aspire to the standard set by Seven Seas and their crew which is one hell of a compliment coming from your competition. We all agreed that Seven Seas raises the bar quite a few notches above other charter boats when it comes to all round experience and caring for divers."
The Seven Seas - Grahalia Tiying Gading 18, Suite 1 - Jl Tukad Pancoran
Panjer Denpasar 80225 - Bali - Indonesia