OK, so we only saw the whalesharks from the boat, but still an impressive (and for Komodo, rare!) sight. And a nice little bonus for the very last trip this season in Indonesia.
First day was spent in Moyo and Satonda Islands. Big schools of Longfin Bannerfish, Red-tooth Triggerfish and Pyramid Butterflyfish were hanging out in the blue at Angel Reef. In the shallows, there were Giant Spearing Mantis Shrimps, Swallowtail Nudibranchs and, literally, thousands of Spaghetti Garden Eels. After a visit to the local fishing village, we had a look at Panjang Reef nearby. We found a couple of sleeping Whitetip Sharks under a table coral, and two big Banded Seasnakes.
Beeing an excellent site for macro, Satonda delivered a nice collection of rare critters: two kinds of Pygmy Seahorses (Hippocampus bargibanti and Hippocampus denise), Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Nudibranchs Imperial Shrimps on a sea cucumber as well as Indian Walkmans, Sponge Crabs and Ghost Pipefish.
One of my absolute favourites is Hot Rocks at Sangeang volcano. And, sure enough, once again everybody came back on the boat, claiming this was a magic dive! Corals and crinoids creates fantastic colours against the black lava sand, with bubbles coming up from the still active volcano to add to the special feeling of this place. No less than four Blue Ribbon Eels and three Leaf Scorpionfish were spotted together with a variety of Nudibranchs, including the Neon Thuridilla, endemic to the area.
As we entered the Komodo National Park, it was time for some bigger animals. Gili Lawalaut treated us with Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Turtles, Napoleonfish and loads of Whitetip Reef Sharks. Plus, of course, the huge schools of Jackfish, Rainbow Runners, Red Snappers and Ribbon Sweetlips in I-Swear-To-God-I-Didn’t-PhotoShop-Them colours.
Our luck continued at Komodo Island, where we saw no less than six Komodo Dragons, the biggest one beeing over three meters long! During the very scenic walk, we also encountered Deer, Wild Boar and Cockatoos.
Another favourite of mine, Cannibal Rock, was stunning as always. Several Frogfish, Zebra Crabs, Longnose Hawkfish and a ”Bunny” Nudibranch (Thecacera pacifica) among other rare things were found in this kaleidoscope of colours and life.
For the Grand Finale of not only this trip, but the entire season here, we did two glorious dives with the Mantas in South Komodo! And they put up a really good show, too; after beeing cleaned in the early morning, they just wanted to play. 15-20 of the big Manta Rays enjoyed synchronized sommersaults for almost two hours!! Something to remember, indeed!