I’ve finally discovered the meaning of “guilty pleasure.” I’ve never really had a guilty pleasure and if ever asked, I’ve always responded, “Books.” I’ve always bought books without too much consideration of price or how many unread ones I have at home. But books are relatively inexpensive and arguably a much higher intrinsic value than their dollar price. And while Joylani tells me that a guilty pleasure is a chick-flick, a pedicure, and a tub of ice-cream, I’ve discovered it to be diving. It’s a relatively expensive and short-lived activity. It’s a pleasure for sure and I do feel guilty about dropping so much money on it.
Arriving in Labuanbajo, we immediately signed up for a day of diving. So this morning we headed out to do two dives off the eastern coast of Komodo. The first was to an area known locally as Manta Point. We descended into a really fast current, which just took us. The bottom was only at about 15 meters or so, where the current pulled us along quickly. It was kind of frustrating diving in such a fast current, because I couldn’t stop and look at things more carefully. I could stay almost stationary only if I swam as hard as I could against the current. We were rewarded for our troubles though when we ran into a manta ray. Although its 2.5 meter wingspan put it at an average size, it seemed enormous to me. Definitely one of the largest things I’ve ever encountered while underwater, if not the largest. It was 3-4 meters off the bottom, flapping its huge wings against the oncoming current. It “flew” so gracefully in the fast current, as we struggled to stay stationary with it. As it flew there, eating all the food the oncoming current was bringing, I was able to get down below and behind it from where I admired its size and gracefulness. Eventually it flew off, at which point we turned and sped away with the current.
this guy was 2.5 meters wide!
this guy was 2.5 meters wide!
Our second dive was to Batu Balong, a pyramidal rock with just its peak protruding above the surface of the sea. It was a good dive site, because the oncoming current hit the outcrop and split to either side, but the area immediately behind the rock (relative to the current) was uncannily calm. From the surface, the dive site looked odd; water as calm as a lake with rivers of current on either side, and regular-looking ocean beyond. Very odd, but we dropped into the glassy surface and descended down to about 20 meters. The dive consisted of zig-zagging our way up the calm face of the rock, where all the fish were concentrated due to the surrounding currents. The dive was awesome and I think it was probably the most fish I’ve ever seen concentrated in one place, which is quite a lot considering we’ve been to both the Maldives and Sipadan on this trip.
a lionfish, one of my favorites
Besides experiencing the currents firsthand today, I learned a bit about them from our divemaster as well. The currents are what make the diving so good in Indonesia. I’m not sure of the specifics, but something about the cooler nutrient-rich currents from the Indian Ocean hitting the warmer currents of the Pacific creates an ideal environment for marine life. The temperature differences are noticeable too, as our first dive was 29C and our second 26C, a huge difference given their close physical proximity. Needless to say, what was going to a one-day splurge is shaping up to be an expensive two days as we signed up for another day of diving. What can I say? Guilty pleasure
fish hanging out on this side of the rock until the current switches direction