Two-week expedition liveaboard Maumere to Ambon
3rd report – Banda Sea
Half way through our journey we are now in the middle of the Banda Sea. The island of Teun brings a new experience for many of us as the smell of sulfur invades the Jaya. Looking up to the mountain above we can see streams of smoke lifting through the trees, a reminder that we are among active volcanoes. Diving into the depths below, shoals of barracuda and fusiliers race past while the occasional boom can be heard from the rocks cracking and shifting deep inside the island.
Our last dive of the day is on the submerged reef of Dunsburgh. Drifting along the side of the reef we are joined by large Napoleon wrasses and barracudas. In the calm area on top we spy black spotted and white mouth morays hiding in their holes.
The excitement is palpable in the morning as we make our way towards Nildesperandum. Whales are surfacing left and right across the mirror like seas. A shout of “another one over here” rings through the Jaya as people are hanging over the sides for a better view.
Descending for the first dive the gentle current slowly drops us beside the cleaning station. As the current picks up the unmistakable “ding, ding, ding” of tank banging rings out. Hammerheads!!!! One from behind, one coming up from the deep, everyone looking all around for our first glimpse of the gorgeous sharks. We try to reign in our excitement but fail as a school of hammerheads rise up from the deep. One, two, five, six, more! Sadly, we must shallow up as we run low on deco time and air but that doesn’t stop the safety stop celebrations.
Gili Manuk brings another new experience for many on board. Flocks of frigates and boobies fly past us fighting over fish caught and swooping low to check out the Jaya. Also known as sea snake island, the waters around this volcanic rock seem to be teaming with Chinese Olive Sea snakes. They can readily be spotted surfacing for air alongside the Jaya, and below the water their curious faces approach from all directions. At first, we are quite wary of the snakes, being highly venomous creatures, but their docile nature encourages us to get a closer look. Underwater Gili Manuk also brings different topography. Sloping reefs and sand banks littered with giant barrel sponges are a change from the walls we’ve seen, while Devil Rays and Bumphead parrotfish pass us by.
We now turn north west and back to land as we head towards the Banda island for a restock and land visit. Waking up in Banda harbour we are surrounded by green hills and light sprinkle of rain. Guests head out for a tour of the spice forts and a chance to buy some neat souvenirs. Covering over 520 nautical miles, 6 days and 16 dives we are ready for a day of rest and for the last leg.