KM Blue Manta Trip Reports
Blue Manta Komodo showdown
This was the last trip in 2016 for KM Blue Manta in Komodo. We welcomed a group of young divers from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Western Australia. This group was assembled by Ravin (pictured 3rd from left) - whom had joined a couple of our trips in Raja Ampat previously.
This trip schedule would start with 3 easy dives in the North of Komodo for the benefit of Joyce - joining our trip to complete her open water course.
Next day we ventured to the chillier waters of the South of Komodo - home to the famous 'Manta Alley'. Last trip was manta soup there and some were even lucky enough to witness a Mola mola or sunfish. This trip the water was a bit warmer - so no repeat Mola sighting but there were still oodles of manta rays. We're getting to know these rays quite well (they can be identified by the spots on the underside of their bodies, or injuries too). My favourites are a black morph I call 'Bali' due to a big white splodge in the shape of the map of Bali, and 'Domino' whom exhibits 6 small spots in the arrangement of a blank:six domino piece at the edge of right pectoral fin.
I counted 13 at any one time this trip, just 1 shy of the maximum I counted on the previous trip. Manta cleaning participation was once again high.
Having our fill of mantas we continued across to Rinca and Nusa Kode to first check out some dragons and then dive 'Cannibal Rock':
Next day we dived at the Lawas and across to 'Batu Monco' before diving the famous 'Castle Rock' and its huge schools of fish oft coralled by jacks. There were plenty of white-tip sharks flirting with the current - making us all feel quite meagre by comparison.
We were to expereince quite a bit of current as we continued to dive the Lawas and the Komodo Strait the next day. 'Shot-gun' was very popular as we went 'pow' with the current at spectacular pace, more manta rays too! An underwater scuba-group (scoup) photo in the shallows preceeded another rare manta ray sighting at 'Crystal Rock'.
The currents would tailor excellent drift dive opportunities. 'Sambal' had a school of 5 eagle rays and many white-tip sharks were encountered up close at the smaller of the Tatawa islands: 'Tatawa Kecil'. Not far from here lies 'Batu Bolong' or 'Current City'. As with Tatawa Kecil we don't dive in the current here, we stay in the lea of the rock - though the current rips either side of it. We had a really nice dive here, as is usual, with close-up company of green turtles, a leaf-fish, large banded sea krait and lots and lots of anthias.
'Siaba Kecil' will be a special dive etched in my memory. Great drift dive; lots of turtles, as expected, but no-one could have anticipated that we'd have seen 2 Dugongs!!! My word they can shift. No photo, it all happened very quickly at distance. We then moved to Garang Makassar for some quality beach time:
Hui brought along his Phantom 4th gen. drone to the trip. Conditions were perfect for flying. He got some great aerial shots of what I call the 'mountains in the sea' - that is Komodo. He also got one of this 'Circle of Friends':
Last up on our dive schedule was 'Mantas on the Moon' aka 'Makassar Reef'. We glided into 3 manta rays and an eagle ray before repeating 'Wainilu', subject of a night dive on a previous day. Highlights included signal goby, a rather hairy seahorse and an appealing frogfish.
Thanks to everyone involved it was a great trip to finish the season in Komodo - now we sail to Maumere to begin our crossing trips, but one last Komodo sunset was just the tonic to say goodbye :)