Four days on the boat, and we’ve had an amazing manta safari in Komodo National Park. Today is our last day, and I think we saved the best for the last.

We woke up early. The sun hadn’t risen yet and the moon was still overhead. This morning we had an early appointment with the sharks at Castle Rock!

Ready for the first dive before the sun had risen

Castle Rock was amazing. Clear water and good visibility, with so many schooling fish and colourful corals.Such a harmony of nature. We descended into the blue, where surely the sharks were waiting for us. They were playing around the corals, facing into the current and trying to find the exact time to catch their prey. I counted eight whitetip reef sharks, and they seemed so friendly! I also found a pregnant shark with a bulging belly, so cool!

Our next spot was Crystal Rock. Just like the name, Crystal Rock has crystal clear waters. The contour was similar to Castle Rock: a pinnacle in the middle of the sea, covered by colorful corals and plenty of fishes. When we jumped, the current was quite calm, making us feel at home. Amongst the corals and bright schooling fish, I felt like I was fish gazing! I also saw two hawksbill turtles relaxing in the corals. We were all so memorised, on this site I think it would be easy to forget to check our air!

Sebayur Kecil became the last spot we visited on this safari. It is located on the way back to Labuan Bajo. We had dived here before during our Advanced Open Water course. Sebayur Kecil has a fairly gentle contour, sandy slope, and a lot of coral beds or coral gardens. We found something that really caught our attention, flying from another direction. Guess what it was? A mobula Ray, the manta’s brother. I missed encountering a mobula on the first day of our safari, and finally I had a chance to meet with this creature. He flew below us and quickly left us behind. We were so lucky! No mantas today, but that’s not a big issue, we still felt lucky to see a mobula passing us by!

For me this safari was such a moment of reflection. One of my friends told me that East Nusa Tenggara is the place that teaches us so many things, and here in Labuan Bajo I have found wisdom, from nature and the people accompanying me. I felt so grateful for this experience.

While I was diving kept remembering a book by Howard Cunnell. “Maybe its just that underwater you are always aware of how little time you have left down there, the finite and ever decreasing number of breaths you carry with you in a twelve litter steel tank is recorded and measured on your air gauge. As the needle passes from black numerals to red, you approach the end of your time in the blue world”. Everything has its own limits, including happiness, beauty, and even sadness. We all need to remember to keep improving our self and doing good things, as we are all running out of the air. Only two weeks of MIP-2018 are left, let’s make the most of our time!

Irfan Firdaus

Irfan Firdaus

Irfan  is a final year student of Marine Science at the University of Brawijaya. Irfan received a gold medal in the 29th National Student Scientific Week for his research into sustainable fishing technologies with fishermen of East Java. He worked as a Site Observer for WWF where he helped to develop the Electro Shield System, […]