RG Indonesia (Above Water)


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Above-water photos (from my Feb2007 trip to Indonesia: Komodo (conservation project to plant boat moorings on the bottom of the ocean floor) and Bali (recreational diving/tourist)

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RG Indonesia (Above Water)

  1. 1. In early Feb 2007 I received word of a marine conservation project planned for mid-Feb in Indonesia, involving installation of boat moorings throughout Komodo National Park. I contacted the project leader (marine biologist Helen Newman) who indicated they were looking for a few volunteer divers to do the mooring work. A dream destination for anyone interested in marine life, parrots and reptiles, I jumped at the opportunity to go to Indonesia. About two weeks later, I was on my way. Komodo National Park is rather remote, but the diving in the region is fantastic, and a few operators run live-aboard boats there, carrying divers across some of the assorted dive sites day and night. The project’s purpose was to install moorings for boats (dive boats, fishing boats, etc) to tie up to on the water surface. By doing so, the boats do not need to drop anchor, potentially devastating the coral reef below. The process of installing the moorings was slightly involved, but basically consisted of planting three “Manta Ray” anchors in a triangle ~10ft below the ocean bottom. Several pieces of hydraulic equipment (underwater jackhammer and load-locker) are used, and the anchors are linked together with heavy chain. The chains are shackled together at the center of the triangle, secured to a thick buoyant rope line which is attached to a buoy at the surface. Boats then tie up to the surface buoy. Most of the work was carried out at 85-95 foot depths, in 30-35 minute shifts (maximum air and/or no-decompression limit) of two-person dive teams. During my portion of the project, there were only 5-8 divers, and a typical mooring would take 0.5 – 1 day, depending on water conditions. Rick Goodman, 2007
  2. 2. Indonesia is comprised of over 17,000 diverse islands … some 6,000 of which have human inhabitants, and many of which are volcanically active. With 235 million people, it is the world’s 4 th most populous nation, and the most populous Muslim-majority (86%) nation. My stay in Indonesia began and ended in Bali, south of Indonesia’s center. In contrast to the rest of Indonesia, Bali is predominantly Hindu (>90%). Several hundred miles east of Bali, across the scientifically historical “Wallace Line,” is the Komodo region, where I spent 9 days.
  3. 3. Photos from Bali
  4. 4. Padangbai (East Bali) – several nice dive sites accessible via boat from here
  5. 5. Bali rice fields
  6. 12. Mt Agung, Bali’s largest and most famous volcano, on a hazy morning. Agung’s most recent major eruption took place in 1963.
  7. 13. Ulu Watu, temple on the southern coast of Bali
  8. 18. Macaques are considered holy at this Hindu temple, and are found throughout the grounds
  9. 19. Along one of the walkways, I stumbled into a fascinating encounter between a macaque and a scorpion. The macaque cleverly used a leaf to hold down the scorpion and keep its deadly tail flat, and ultimately wound up pulling the tail off before eating the now-defenseless scorpion.
  10. 20. Famous sunset dance at the temple, recreating an old Hindu story about Rama
  11. 21. Hindu temple in central Bali
  12. 24. “ The model walk” – traditional manner by which Balinese women carry around items, particularly if they are heavy or bulky!
  13. 25. The sculpture at left, about 12 feet tall, was hand-carved from a solid trunk of rare Mahogany. Deforestation (both legal and illegal) of old growth forests, fueled by huge demand from China and Japan, is a huge issue facing Indonesia.
  14. 26. Bali Bird Park, free-flight-trained birds
  15. 27. The rare Black Palm cockatoo: unusual example of a bird known to utilize tools in the wild. At right, a photo I shot of him after he decided he didn’t want to leave my arm!
  16. 28. Three new friends – Greenwing macaw, Sulfur-crested cockatoo, and Scarlet macaw (Moluccan cockatoo in background)
  17. 29. Beautiful juvenile tree pythons. As they mature, their skin will change to the more commonly recognizable emerald green color.
  18. 30. Photos from Komodo area
  19. 31. Komodo National Park is outlined above, encompassing Komodo and Rinca islands (the only two places in the world Komodo dragons inhabit) along with a large number of small peripheral islands. Diving in this region is world-renowned, but not easily accessible. Visitors must fly to the island of Flores, just east of the Komodo region, and from there take boats out of the tiny port of Labuanbajo (‘Labuhanbajo’ on map above).
  20. 32. Tiny airport at Labuanbajo (island of Flores), entry port to Komodo region
  21. 33. Flores – moderately barren
  22. 34. Coming into the Flores port of Labuanbajo
  23. 35. Labuanbajo port, from the upper deck of the Ombak Putih boat
  24. 36. Labuanbajo port
  25. 37. Labuanbajo port
  26. 38. Labuanbajo port
  27. 39. Labuanbajo port
  28. 40. Nautical chart of the project’s intended mooring sites around Komodo NP
  29. 41. Our project live-aboard: the Ombak Putih (“White Wave”)
  30. 43. Equipment-laden deck of the Ombak Putih
  31. 44. Deck of the Ombak Putih
  32. 45. Equipment-laden deck of the Ombak Putih
  33. 46. Ombak’s upper deck
  34. 47. Mess hall on the Ombak Putih
  35. 48. My little cabin on the Ombak Putih (sorry for the blur)
  36. 49. Left: “manta ray” anchors (to be planted ~10ft below the ocean floor) Right: pile of assorted equipment, including the heavy chain and shackles that get attached to the manta ray anchors, and the hydraulic fluid hose lines (black), which connect the jackhammer and load-locker to the compressor on the tender boat
  37. 50. Pygmy seahorses come in a few color variations, depending on their local habitat. Note that the picture on the right contains two individuals…!
  38. 51. Heavy metal frame (to support load-locker) The cylinders are oxygen tanks, for filling the dive tanks with nitrox (31-32% oxygen). This didn’t seem to stop the boat crew of Indonesian kids from smoking next to them.
  39. 52. Load-locker, atop metal support frame
  40. 53. Padar (mooring site)
  41. 54. Padar (mooring site)
  42. 55. (Second mooring site)
  43. 56. (second mooring site)
  44. 57. (second mooring site)
  45. 58. Anchoring the tender boat
  46. 59. Buoy and liftbags at surface
  47. 60. Working the tender boat (pulling in equipment on two lift bags)
  48. 61. Diver shift change
  49. 62. Dive team returning to Ombak
  50. 63. Close-up of tender boat with compressor, hydraulic lines, etc
  51. 64. (third mooring site)
  52. 65. (third mooring site)
  53. 66. (third mooring site)
  54. 71. Local fishermen
  55. 72. (fourth mooring site)
  56. 74. Mauan
  57. 77. Sailing into Rinca (pronounced “Rinja”) Island, which, along with Komodo Island, comprise the sole wild habitat of the Komodo dragon
  58. 78. Rinca Island ranger station dock
  59. 79. Some locals
  60. 80. Komodo NP sign (somewhat less blurry in person…)
  61. 81. Rinca Island, Komodo NP ranger station
  62. 82. Group of Komodo dragons, conserving energy
  63. 83. Again with the energy conservation… Komodo Dragons are the world’s largest lizard, typically 7-10 ft in length. They have an extremely toxic bite, as their saliva contains a large number of highly active bacteria. I recommend checking out Wikipedia for more interesting information on these reptiles.
  64. 84. Dragon close-up
  65. 86. Slightly blurry, but check out those awesome claws
  66. 87. Wild water buffalo: one of the dragons’ favorite prey
  67. 88. Rinca Island, overlooking the Ombak Putih in bay
  68. 89. Rinca Island
  69. 90. Dragon ducking into the underbrush. A few steps in, this guy completely disappeared – you would never know he was in there.
  70. 91. Sailing away from Rinca
  71. 92. Sunset in Komodo
  72. 94. Sumbawa, near Sangeang
  73. 97. The tremendous volcanic black sand coast of north Sumbawa. The diving off this coast is phenomenal. Small volcanic gas bubbles percolate out of the dark sand ocean floor, and the marine life is awesome.