Long-nosed Hawkfish in Sea fan - by Karen Tan

The Seven Seas News - September 2014

East of Flores, August/September 2014 - Trip Report by Linda Johnston

Photos by Karen Tan, Rob Sternlieb, Peter Traeger, Linda Johnston & Karl Klingeler

My first trip back to work on the Seven Seas after a Total Hip Replacement in May this year could not have been a better one to ease myself back into the saddle. I was snorkeling with 4 lovely ladies who all had Titanium implants of their own!! We had a full boat of passengers, so the 2 fibre glass speedboats were taken by the divers and we snorkelers were given the zodiac, which we lovingly refer to on board as "the rubber ducky". However, as it does not have a ladder, none of us were able to get back in the boat unaided, so we solved this problem by requesting that "Big John" (the largest & strongest crew member) always be in the zodiac to help pull us out of the water, which worked just fine. He would lift each one of us out of the water onto the side of the boat, whereupon we slithered head first onto our bellies, liked beached whales! It doesn't sound like fun but how we laughed and laughed ...... we named ourselves "The Titanium Titanettes"!

Big John & The Titanium Titanettes
The Titanium Titanettes

The following trip I was ready to resume diving and on day one at Adonara we saw maybe 20 sharks on The Ridge, both black and white-tip, as well as the resident squadron of eagle rays at the Drop-off, grey reef sharks and both dog-tooth tuna and Spanish mackerel hunting schools of fusiliers.

A wall dive in North Lembata was for some the prettiest wall they had ever seen. Later in the trip, when we dived the wall a second time, guests encountered a squadron of around 25 eagle rays.

The active volcano of Komba did not disappoint and our guests were treated to a 3 hour sound and light show with roaring eruptions and explosions of hot burning rocks being hurled out of the crater.

Hundreds of dolphins & melon-headed whales off the island of Pura in the Pantar Strait accompanied us for an hour, on our way to the next dive site.

We had a great dive at the Ledge: a beautiful wall covered in soft corals and anthias, sergeant majors guarding their eggs. We watched a fisherman lowering a fish trap from his dugout canoe, big schools of fusiliers and a massive dog-tooth tuna and Napolean wrasse. In West Pantar, we saw multiple bamboo sharks, a school of pickhandle barracuda and several dogtooth tuna, one of which looked to be at least 5 feet long!

Bamboo Shark, by Peter Traeger
Anemone Shrimp with eggs, by Karen Tan
 
Nembrotha nudibranch, by Peter Traeger
Peacock Flounder, by Rob Sternlieb

While the guests were diving The Ledge, Captain Wahyu spotted a turtle caught up in a huge fishing net. He brought the Seven Seas alongside and the crew carefully cut away the net, letting the turtle swim to freedom. Among other animals caught up in the net, they found no less than 4 sargassum frogfish, who were now homeless, so we set about finding them a new raft to live on!

In Alor, our guests went to visit the Aboi mountain tribe at Latafui, where the villagers performed some songs & dances which are culturally significant to them. One of these is the exchanging of the Moko drum, the traditional dowry of the Aboi mountain tribe, which symbolizes the contract of marriage. Later, guests got to try betelnut and a cigarette made on the spot from lontar leaf and tobacco the tribe grow themselves. Put the two together and it makes for a good head rush! Our guests had photo opportunities with the Chief in local dress and later joined in the dancing.

Giant Frogfish, by Peter Traeger
Ornate Ghostpipefish pair, by Rob Sternlieb
 
White V Octopus, by Rob Sternlieb
Latafui Aboi Tribe Chief, by Karl Klingeler

Critter highlights of the trip included a beautiful maroon Rhinopias on Pura island and bobbit worms and white V octopus in Beangabang, ornate ghostpipefish, mandarinfish, various frogfish & leaf scorpionfish, blue ribbon eels (adult & juvenile).

Linda Johnston
September 2014


Pura kids, by Rob Sternlieb

» Click here to see what our guests had to say about these trips.

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