S4 31.557 E129 53.675 – Banda Neira
Banda Islands is historically known as part of the Spice Islands of the Moluccas. It belongs to a string of islands south east of Ambon. It has an old Dutch fort and there is a volcano here called Gunung Api (mountain of fire) which erupted in 1988. The lava flow from topside is still all black and it flowed all the way into the sea. Life underwater erupted as well. The corals from the most shallow all the way to the deep was just COVERED by hard branching corals. The coral traffic was intense.
It was just so busy down there it was coral on top of coral and the plates were enormously gigantic and so heavy, some had already fallen and continued growing after the fall – it made really interesting coral formation. Unfortunately, it was so dark as the sun didn’t want to show itself the whole morning.
Second dive was a mandarin fish dive at 11 am under Hotel Maulana. The mandarin fish were BIG. Still hard to photograph as they were in amongst the diadema sea urchins and never stopped moving. Very easy 3 – 5 meter dive.
Third dive was the same place where the mandarin fish were by the hotel near the anchorage of the small boats by the sea wall. But this time we went further down. There were many many fire urchins but it was hard to find the commensal shrimps and no crabs at all.
Down at 26 meters, Yogi found a big bright orange warty frogfish.
Then we went to its other side, it had a big bite on its side.
Then also on this dive we saw a BIG stonefish wedged in a coral. So well camouflaged.
S3 56.373 E131 12.555 – Pulau Koon
Steamed last night from Banda Neira till 7am this morning to the south eastern tip of Seram to an island called Pulau Koon. Woke up my usual 6am, was given my tea, the way I liked it by the very efficient Pindito steward, and got ready for diving. By 8am, we got ready to get into the water which had a slight current and not so clear visibility. But it was still good.
The deep wasn’t as interesting as in the white bright sandy shallows. We saw quite some aggregation of different types of fish – black snappers, big-eyed jacks, huge school of batfish, sailfin snappers, longtoms and 2 big monster groupers.
Did all the three dives in Pulau Koon. There were obviously a big aggregation of groupers here (the ones sold in great quantities to Hong Kong). Edi said there were hundreds more long ago and got quickly fished out for the Chinese market. He observed during this trip that they were coming back. Not in the hundreds, but obviously a little more than before.