A continuation of our special about Wicked Diving Manta Ray Education Trips…
Day two started with a dive on Crystal Rock. At least 6 white tip reef sharks were seen resting and swimming and a small baby one resting under one of the table corals, a big school of surgeonfish, several types of trevallys (big eye, blue fin and giant trevallys), whip coral shrimp and a leaf scorpion fish. There were also lots of moray eels poking their heads out, lionfish and scorpionfish.
In the Golden Passage several white tip reef sharks were seen, bumphead parrotfish and 3 devil rays! Turtles were everywhere and for some of the groups a strong down current in the end ;-). Karang Makassar had all kinds of surprises for us. Black tip reef sharks and white tip reef sharks were seen. A massive sting ray, a ‘hobbing’ scorpionfish (I mean you can’t tell me that was swimming really;-)) and an amazing Spanish Dancer for one of the groups. Dancing in the blue as if it was night time! From the surface before the dive we had already spotted a rather huge turtle head coming up to breath and one of the groups actually ran in to her on the dive…..our new friend the loggerhead turtle. Her head is enormous! And it must be more than 150 years old…..well we don’t know that really but it looks old and wise;-)!
We moored up at Siaba Besar for the night dive. A big sandy slope, with lots of pulsing polyp coral that hides all kinds of creatures; flatworms, nudibranchs, crabs, blue spotted sting rays, lionfish and beautiful soft corals. Manta Ray education aside, there was no more manta talking for that night, it was time to warm up, enjoy the yummy dinner and go to bed. Of course only after watching all the great video and photo footage of the day!
Day three began with Tatawa Besar as our first dive. We hang out in the split with the twin spot snappers, red tooth triggerfish and damsel fish. We found a beautiful blue ribbon eel, and impressive sea fans. Lots of orange and green hydroids colour the reef and that together with the thousands of fish everywhere makes it one of the most beautiful coral slopes that Komodo has to offer. It was a fast drift, so turtles were flying by, together with big pufferfishes, and batfishes. At the end towards the safety stop, a black tip reef shark passed by at the edge of the reef and more turtles came to play.
Mauan is one of the Manta hot spots we visited next and a perfect place for manta ray education. We dropped on the sandy slope, where we know are several cleaning stations. We did see a cuttlefish, a snowflake moray eel, white tip reef shark, flatworm and a black leafy scorpionfish in the end. Everything agreed the reef was in fantastic condition, but unfortunately the mantas didn’t come to play. The last dive of the day was at Batu Bolong. A strong rising tide brought us lots of action even on the lee side. Trevally’s hunting, Napoleons feeding, white tip reef sharks resting and cruising, and several very big hawksbill turtles. The map puffer fishes are probably the fattest ones we have in the park! Lots of scorpionfish were found as well and a dramatic wall side going down deep. It is one of the top 4 most famous dives in the park and it rightfully deserves it’s fame.
A few stayed relaxing on the boat afterwards whilst others went to the beach at Siaba Kecil. Another successful clean up and lots of chatting, photographing and enjoying the sunset from the stunning beach of Siaba Kecil.
In the evening it was time for the last manta presentation about threats and conservation. An important part of manta ray education is to understand why mantas are so vulnerable and need our help. Afterwards we watched Andrea Marshalls “Queen of mantas”, the BBC documentary from 2009.