Sevn Seas at Komodo, by Foued Kaddachi

The Seven Seas News - November 2012

Komodo, 23 October - 5 November 2012

Trip Report by Lionel Delisle

We all were very lucky to be on board the Seven Seas for the last Komodo cruise of the 2012 season. Our nice group of 10 was 50/50 of new comers and returners. For my brother Thierry and I, it was the third Seven Seas cruise in Komodo. Each time it was as great as different.

We started as usual from Labuan Bajo, but for once, we finished at Maumere (East Flores). Mark Heighes was there, managing perfectly this trip throughout Komodo archipelago, depending of others boats, wind, currents and visibility. Day 1, Tuesday the 23rd, was about making ourselves at home and we had a check dive at Sebayor Kecil.

Wednesday morning we dove at Tatawa Besar and Penga. In the afternoon we went to Wainilu for 2 outstanding muck dives, one by day and one by nigh. Impossible to list everything we saw, but a few well known such as scorpion fish, flying gurnard, frogfish, nudibranch, cuttlefish and the cute Bobtail squid, Harlequin Shrimp and her baby (!!) and... a juvenile Blue Ring Octopus. Night dive in here is like in night club. Lots of people moving and turning around the beauties....lights flashing here and there, every minute an unexpected physical contact..., music all along (yes, you know, the metallic tank tapping!?), and bottles are always empty before the end! This night dive was the best ever for my brother and I, and we were not the only ones to shout and laugh going back to the Seven Seas.

Frogfish & Sea Apple

Zebra crab with eggs

After a few beers and a succulent diner (as usual), by 9:00 pm we sailed to South Rinca. Flat sea and no head current made it easier and at 1:00 am the crew was busy to take the mooring. We spend 2 days in this Jurassic Park like bay, diving Cannibal Rock, Boulder, Yellow Wall, Torpedo Bay by day and night. Once again these sites were very productive for critters, frogfish, zebra crab, colorful flatworms, coleman shrimp and a spiny devil fish (Scorpion fish / Inimicus) for a few examples. Between the dives we said hello, to the dragons, still there, still big and ugly! We kept distance, no French kiss nor shake hands!

Then, we sailed north this Friday afternoon to Padar Island and on the way, did the Three Sisters dive. Padar is not only good for diving but also for hiking. Late afternoon we went to Pink beach for a short walk, volley ball and sun set drinks. Within all activities the Seven Seas offers, going as much as we want to shore is very much appreciated. Not easy to find the words telling how cool and relaxing these beach trips and drinks are!

King Kong Hill at Padar

Padar Beach

As Mark likes to say, "it is all about timing in Komodo!" and he proved it again the Saturday morning. 7h00: We were the first at Batu Bolong and this dive is definitively in my top 3 in Komodo, with spectacular crevasses, coral plates as for sweatlips cleaning stations, walls full of life, turtle flying by and a few white tip in the blue. The next dive, Castle Rock, was very busy too with eagle rays, turtles, white tips and giant trevallies, etc.! So many fish! We finished this great day at Fish Bowl.

Sunday morning we started by Tatawa Kecil. The small caves, full of soft coral, are easy to picture out, but more importantly, this place is incredible for some species. There are so many different types of Butterfly, Banner and Angel fishes. Just try to count how many different type of each!? Impossible! I'm sure that for most of us, we never see all these different items of these species. We think yes...but not! Because some species are not that common, not even in Indonesia. We went then to Karang Makassar for the "big black things"...and they were there! Mantas, Mantas... and on and on!

For the afternoon, we sailed North and turn West to visit the very wild West coast of Komodo Island. First time for all of us. All along the beautiful and calm bays, not even a boat for the following days. "Pygmy point" dive was the first of a pygmee sea horse incredible week hunt with Irwan. He found at least 2 to 6 per dive, alternatively the Bargibanti and the Denise's species. Finding Pygmy sea horses in this area became so easy for Irwan, that the rumor around happy hour on the Seven Seas said he might spot a pigmy SH in a swimming pool!

Manta

Pygmy Seahorse

So he found something else instead... Once I thought he swallowed his regulator, I came carefully, eyes wide open, looking what bites him, ...when I saw at the far end of his stick the very little Lembeh Dragon, scientific name: Kyonemichtys rumengani, from pipefishes family. They were discovered in Lembeh in 2006, and are also named pipehorse, or pygmy pipehorse. Thinner than 1 mn and long 3 to 4 cm, they often live in pairs. Such an incredible creature, so small and fragile, but with a good camouflage.
Thanks and well done Irwan!!

Going South, we went diving Loh Wenci bay, with giant cuttle fish, white Leaf fish, spotted one shark sleeping in a coral bommie crevasse and spot 2 nice brown robust Ghost Pipe fishes, and many other things of course. We anchored in Tukohle Kokboi bay. The rest of the day was about the route to Gilli Lawa Laut and diving at Golden Passage. Usually one of the best, but since a day or so, currents appeared stronger than the early cruise because we were a few days after the full moon, said Mark.

Wednesday the 31st, one of the best came early in the morning. We dove the very famous Crystal Rock at 7h30 (in the water). At Crystal, the well named, the visibility and the fishes are simply outstanding! Wherever you look at, the show is on! It wasn't only a perfect timing for tide and current. Once back up to surface, we counted about 7 boats on or around the spot, which is not that far from Labuan Bajo. More than ever before, a good boat and cruise director is needed to take the best out of Komodo.

Seven Seas' tenders

Komodo Dragons

After a second and even better passage at Karang Makassar, and Mantas again, even for our snorkelers, we cross to Rinca Loh Buaya and dove night again at Wainilu. They were all almost there, dozens of crabs species within spider crabs, spiny scorpion fish, bobtail squid, muray eel, nudibranches and flatworms, etc...fighting, eating or mating! Once back on the boat, Thierry told me, it's a "nuit de folie!".

Thursday we visited the Rinca Park Ranger Station and met again the dragons. We went to the Strawberry Rock and by night we sailed full East on the North coast of Flores, for about 70 Miles, and arrived 10 hours later, Friday morning in Kulambu Bay, where the Seven Seas never went before. Boat trip and kayaking for some of us to look around, making photos and videos of the village, and of the wild horses on the beach! We explored 3 dives sites where probably nobody dove before. The night dive was (again) amazing. All of us saw the Bobbit Worms, and Thierry spot me a juvenile Crocodile fish. Another "nuit de folie" with far more critters than we can shoot!

9pm, we steamed again East for about 8 hours to Ropa bay, but it was worthwhile.
Saturday the 3rd, wake up at 4:45 am! Quick breakfast, shoes on, and ready to go for a special and unexpected day. Domingus, Seven Seas East Flores contact, was waiting for us with a minibus for 2h30 drive to the parking of the Kelimutu National Park. From there, 30 min walk and we were on the ridge of 3 volcanos, (1700 m elevation) with colorful crater lakes. Once again, Seven Seas organization was great...blue sky and sun!! Thanks guys! Not that often in this place. From the road on the way back, we saw the mountain under clouds. How lucky we were!

Kelimutu

Traditional dancing

Sunday the 4th, we arrived at Pulu Besar, did the last dive and visited a village with traditional fabric and dancing. Last dinner on board was great and ended by the crew songs and dances. The permanent-smiling crew is simply unique! They always look after you, very attentive and want us happy every single minute. Thanks to you all, and especially to you Mark for these 2 marvelous weeks.

Enough said, now let's book the next trip!

Lionel Delisle

Kelimutu


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