Charter Boats ~ no details
|Komodo island is 200 nautical miles east of Bali and between the islands of Flores and Sumbabwa. There is 132,000 hectares of marine water within the Komodo National Park at a temperature of around 23-28C / 75-82F|
Last dived Nov 03 by Joe Reinhart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Picture by Joe Reinhart
Early last November my cousin invited me
to dive Komodo Island, Indonesia, with his wife and a small group of
his friends. I considered this quite an honor, as he is the president
of a marine research lab and a well known fish biologist. With his
experience and connections, he dives the most incredible dive spots.
In his words, "Diving Komodo Island is diving in a world that has
never experienced man. Like stepping back into the past, before
fishing, motorboats or scuba."
Maybe a little background is in order; Remote and nearly unpopulated, the Komodo Island Group (Rinca and Komodo and a host of smaller islets) are the home of the famous Komodo Dragon. These islands, in the interest of protecting the dragon, were made into the first world heritage protected zone back in the late 60's. Not only the islands, but a buffer zone out to five kilometers from shore are off-limits to hunters, fishermen and development of any kind. The terrible "bomb fishermen," were not allowed into these waters.
Several boats offer dive trips to Komodo, and coupled with walking tours viewing the island's amazing animal life, they provide the adventure diver with an unrivalled chance to experience diving as only the pioneer divers could have done. Remote diving in comfort. We went with DiveKomodo on the Evening Star.
In Labuan Bajo, seven divers and I boarded the motor-sailing yacht Evening Star. It was early Saturday afternoon. It is not easy to get to the home port of our home-away-from-home, but as boat's crew stowed our gear, we refreshed with cool fruit drinks and a snorkel dive into the clear blue waters. By sunset we were diving Saybor Keail, the first dive-spot of the famous Komodo Islands!
Sabayor Keail is little more than a rock
in the wide channel that separates Komodo Island from Rinca. Few trees
grow there, and the vegetation is sparse. In this sub-tropical land,
November is considered the end of the rainy season, but the rain had
not yet begun. The landscape of Komodo is reminiscent of Baja
California or the Grecian Isles, but I soon discovered that some of
the richest reefs in the world lay scant meters beneath the keel of
the Evening Star II.
Dive Log: Dive #31, 11/08/2003 Sabayor Keail.
Visibility: 10/12 meters
Time this dive; 46 minutes
Depth: 20 meters
Comments: Splash from the Zodiacs into painfully bright blue water. The contrast of this blue to the brown rocky shore is startling; I am diving into the heart of the world's largest sapphire.
My partner is Andy, and the group is lead by the Australian guide and dive master, Loki. Andy is the only other single guest besides me; a tall and gentle man with approximately the same dive experience as I, and we become comfortable dive buddies immediately.
Loki takes us down the mooring cable, and we adjust buoyancy as Loki checks the group. All signals are A-OK, and we proceed up-stream to the first of a series of coral knobs. The current is strong over our heads, but staying between the rocks and knobs of coral, the eddies and ground effect protect us from the brunt of it. This low-level approach is very pleasing, as my mask is only a few feet from the action on the reef, and we don't disturb the massive schools of fish that swarm over our heads.
While gliding over a pair of white scorpion fish, the water above darkens, as though a cloud passed over the sun. Looking up, a school of Sweet-lips, large and yellow with their flat disc-like eyes; a thousand of them! More!
I suck water around my mouth piece and realize my jaw has dropped open in surprise. It is not the last time I am left "sucking water!"
The best word to describe the fish concentration is, "intense." Not only are there great numbers of the scaly critters, but so many different kinds of them. On a regular basis we saw fish that are not in the fish identification books. Greg Heighs, the owner of www.divekomodo.com notes that possibly 15% of the Komodo fish species have not been officially catalogued. Many that are catalogued are present on the reefs of Komodo. My log pages are too small to write the names of all I saw, and I post entries like:
Thick schools of juvenile fish...what? Unknown. Rather plain looking minnows, green with huge eyes...millions waiting calmly about the whipcoral and Vase sponges. They drop small bits of coral into the sponges and then look at me, like naughty children.
A green and black nudibranch flutters by and disappear into the sponge also. 300 PSI of air left. I have overstayed! I will have to discipline the kids another day.
After five minutes at 5 meters on the safety stop line, my tank is dry and I vow to watch my air more closely. I could blame it on the colorful distractions, but safety comes first, and it is my responsibility to watch my air. It is inexcusable to run low like that, and to run out? I must discipline myself.
From this dive experience, I begin to concentrate on swimming economically and conserving my air. I watch my cousin, who seems to use no air at all. Loki can stay down for hours, on the air I use in forty minutes. I ask questions and learn. There is so much to stay underwater for, and I want my air to last as long as possible! Fortunately, I am in the company of masters.