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Category Archive: Komodo National Park

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Komodo Dive Sites : Its World Class Diving In Indonesia

KOMODO DIVE SITES
1. NE Gili Banta

Excellent Hard coral garden, at entry point which is at the northern tip of the headland then swim with reef left into the bay. This is a good site to find frogfish on the sponges on the reef slope, also nudibranches and other unusual creatures are often found in this area.

2. GPS Point
The seamount off the northeastern tip once ranged among the best dive sites in this area boasting up to 7 species of sharks in one dive. Schooling hammerheads have also been seen here during the month of September. Unfortunately this site was severely damaged by dynamite fishing in 1997 and 1998. Shark’s finners also extensively fished it. The hard corals have suffered from the past blast fishing and large patches of rubble are found in between stretched of good coral, which still show what a great ecosystem this site supports. On the North Western corner down at 30 meters you have a good chance of running into a pack of grey reef sharks. Good fish life is still abundant at the side, which is exposed to the current, and large Spanish mackerel can usually be seen moving like missiles overhead. Dogtooth tunas can sometimes be seen along the deeper slopes.

3. NW Gili Banta
The North Western tip of Gili Banta Island. Fantastic diving and snorkeling. Snorkeling along the steep rocky wall we can see lots of small things, fish and some sharks and giant trevally. Diving deep (40 m) at the very tip we are getting into big-fish-country. Many coral trout, large groupers, schools of giant trevally, massive dogtooth tuna. The best place for entry is approximately 100 meters South of the point in the bay. Once you have rounded the point, continue to the west way and you will find an excellent coral garden in the shallows to do the safety stop. Strong currents and even down-currents can be experienced on the point. It’s best to dive at slack-tide if possible.

4. Castle Rock
Prone to current, this site usually has excellent visibility. Usually the current is flowing to the east and is much stronger at the surface than in the deeper water. If you enter in the blue water approximately 100 meters up currents from the shallowest point and swim down 30 to 40 meters divers are usually met by 3 or 4 very friendly batfish, schooling barracuda, jacks, and mackerels are often encountered. In approximately 20 meters of water there is excellent soft corals growth and numerous fans that are host to pigmy seahorses. The top of the rock is approximately 3 to 4 meters of water and offers shelter from the current, hence castle rock. This is a good place to look around during your safety stop.

5. Crystal Rock
The top of Crystal Rock dries at low tide. This site also experiences very clear water, hence crystal bomie. A very colorful dive with excellent soft coral coverage, which is also prone to current. The current usually flows to the east. Best time to dive is during slack-tide. Frogfish, morays, scorpion fish are quite common on this site. Thousands of anthias and schools of yellow-ribbon sweet lips are always encountered. There is a small mound northwest of the rock where different species of fish school seasonally. Tuna and mackerel frequently buzz this site. This is an excellent dive and usually worth doing twice.

6. Gililawa Laut
The northeast tip of Gililawa Laut is always a great site to dive if you are into fish but it does not have much to show in term of hard corals. Other small invertebrates are there of course but the fish usually still the show. On the corner of the reef sits a very large rock, behind which we find a drop off covered with boulders with many holes in between. Excellent grouper country and if you are there at the right time, especially in November and October, you can see many groupers aggregate to spawn. There are usually also many golden trevallies, snappers and sometimes huge napoleon wrasses. The best time to dive this site is during at slight current before or after slack-tide.

7. Darat Passage South
Good snorkeling here although a lot of damage has been done by fish bombing and reef gleaning (meting). The best place for snorkeling is right at the tip of the peninsula where lots of fish and some turtles can be seen on a very pretty coral reef. A dive can be made starting inside the bay along the eastern shore of the peninsula. The best time is when the current is running from east to west through the narrow strait between Gililawa Darat and Komodo Island. Swimming towards the point at about 20 to 25m, along the bottom of the drop off we can see many small coral trout, large schools of anchovies and small tuna and trevallies coming in to feed. More and more fish come in sight closer to the point, with white tip reef shark sleeping on the sandy bottom and garden eels doing their hypnotizing dance. The dive ends when the current brings you around the corner. Gililawa Bay is a good anchoring place.

8. Darat Passage North
An excellent drift dive and good snorkeling can be found on the northern face of the passage. The dive can be done from east to west or visa versa depending on the current. Its best to wait until just before or after slack water when the flow is not to strong. The visibility is usually better if diving from west to east. The entry point is on the reef slope west of the island about 100 meters north of the channel. Then swim reef left. The reef slopes down to a sandy bottom at 15 meters covered in garden eels. The reef sloop itself is quite rich. The current is usually very gentle in this area. As you approach the channel keep an eye out for turtles and a family of giant sweet lip live in a grotto near the surface. The sandy bottom then drops away to about 35 meters as you round the corner and enter the passage. Keep the reef left and get ready to go, as it gets shallower and the current increases. Its best to stay left in the shallows as the deeper section of the channel has rubble, boat traffic and a down current at the end of it. The shallows are extremely rich and full of fish life. Bump head Parrots are common and aggregate here to spawn every year around April. Sharks and schools of Batfish also reside in the passage. Try to fly by the large coral head about two thirds of the way through as its teeming with life and activity. Once you keep left and you gradually get closer to the island towards the end of the dive. The current will eventually drop of as you approach the end of the dive.

9. Batu Bolong
Batu Bolong is a tiny rocky island in the strait between Tatawa and Komodo. This rock is one of the top diving locations in the park but it can only be dived around slack tide, when there is not too much current. This area is undamaged because the current and topography (steep walls) make it impossible for local fishermen to use their dynamite and cyanide fishing techniques. The dive starts right at the surface with colorful corals and other invertebrate life and thousands of small colorful fish. In deeper water, along the steep walls many large fish, including sharks, napoleon wrasse, giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, and large schools of rainbow runners can be observed on almost every occasion.

10. Tatawa Kecil
A small island south of Tatawa Besar Island with fantastic snorkeling when the current is not to fast. With a large and inexperienced group this is only possible around slack tide. Its best to dive the western side of the island, rocks, caves and beautiful coral gardens in the shallows Many coral reef fishes, including large groupers, snappers, sweet lips, jacks and sharks. Tatawa Kecil is probably the anthias (small colorful serranide fish) capitol of the world! Dugongs have been spotted here and manta rays are often seen on the southern side

11. Tatawa Besar
Starting at the northwestern tip of Tatawa there is a good drift dive down the western side of Tatawa in about 15 to 20 meters of water. There is good reef fish life and an endless field of orange soft corals. Mantas are often seemed in this area also. It is also possible to drift down the north coast or Tarawa from the same entry point and is a similar dive. Tatawa Besar is a good option if the current is too strong to dive Tatawa Kecil or Batu Belong

12. Batu Tiga
Batu Tiga is without a Doubt one of the most current affected sites in Komodo. Situated southeast of Tanjung Kuning in Linta strait. Batu Tiga is an Excellent Big fish dive when you can get on it. Best place to enter is at the northwestern side of the tree rocks. A rocky reef extends below the surface out towards Komodo. Down in the deeper water to the west and below the reef Big Boulders offer excellent habitat for grouper and other creatures. Large grouper, mantas, giant trevally and other pelagic are frequently seen here…most of the coral growth is stunted as a result of the strong currents that prevail.

13. Pantai Merah / Pink Beach
This is the most frequently visited site in the park Snorkeling is excellent from the beach and there is a very good dive in a small area around a rock that breaks the surface but is completely covered at high tide There as a great variety of tame fish life here and also a good selection of critters such as leaf scorpion fish, Blue-ribbon eels, crocodile fish, nudibranches and more. This site is also a very good night dive. The visibility varies and is best during a ebbing tide

14. Loh Namu
The Peninsula of Loh Namu offers an interesting dive for those who are into large groupers and napoleon wrasse. Dive around this point from south to north, at a depth of some 28 m and always just before high tide. Almost guaranteed to see some big ones! Most of the fish are found near the southern corner where some large boulders are spread out over the drop-off and a few caves offer additional hiding places. We have seen some of the largest coral trout here, hanging out side by side with Malabar groupers and huge male Napoleon wrasse, which may be aggregating here to spawn. Also wide soft coral as a carpet and the giant gigas clam in 8 meters depth.

15. Indihiang
Close to Loh Liang this small island with steeply dropping walls is an ideal location for divers starting from Komodo Island. Many big fish and good corals can be seen when drift-diving along the steep walls. The best time to dive here is at the end of the falling tide when the current has slowed down and we can easily drift along the eastern wall from north to south. Top attractions include potato cod, large napoleon wrasse and schools of giant trevallies and snappers. This dive has to be planned around slack tide to avoid excessive currents.

16. Pilaarsteen
Pilaarsteen is a pinacle rock on the shore of a small island east of Padar Besar. Its best to enter just off the point below the rock where there is a nice wall then swim to the west where you will find an interesting dive through lots of caves and swimthroughs at different depths. It is particularly good at around 30-40 meters. This Dive is still quite good when other places have too much current. It can be affected by surge when a swell is running from the southwest. Large schools of fusiliers can be found here along a slope, which is covered by an interesting variety of soft and leather corals. The landscape is really interesting and it’s not unusual to encounter sharks and the odd turtle.

17. Three Sisters
Three Sisters is a site north of Pillarsteen. There are 3,quite large submerged rocks within easy swimming distance of each other, and each rock is only about 10 meters apart. They are sitting on the sand in about 20 meters of water and rise 3 to 5meters from the surface. It is a very pristine site covered in coral growth and rich in fish life. They can be hard to find as its not marked on any charts and the rocks lay just below the surface. The rocks run in a line towards the east’s about 100 meters from a small reef that juts out on the eastern side of the island. It is often current affected but usually always diveable if you are one of few divers in this world that still don’t mind having to swim. If you are adventurous there is actually a fourth sister located further to the west that starts in about 20meters of water and drops down to 40 with some impressive fans and good life on it.

18. Paying
The southern and western side of Payung Island (east of Padar) offers a very interesting underwater landscape, with huge rocks that almost give the impression of a wreck dive. At the southern tip, at 5 m depth, you will find a rock in the shape of a cannon. There are lots of canyon and crevices to explore, and the fish and invertebrate life is diverse and abundant. There are big schools of surgeons and smaller yellow snappers (Lutjanus Kasmira) and L. quinquelineatus). Typical for dive sites in the southern part of the park visibility is not very good (5-10 meters), the water is cooler, and the rocks are covered with soft coral, gorgonians, and feather stars. This site should be dived at slack-tide, preferably a slack of low tide. Two dives possible, one descending at the northwestern tip (near the rocks that almost break the surface) then dive with the slope on your left (15-30 meters), turn around at the southern most end of the island and work your way back at 10 m depth. The second dive starts at the southeastern side, around the southern tip of the island (20-35 meters depth), then back at 5-15 meters depth.

19. Nusa Kode
The southwestern tip of Kode Island is characterized by large encrusted borders with little corals and huge groupers. Very large fish are never really plentiful, but among the boulders you have a chance of seeing some of the largest fish on the reef such as the giant grouper, the potato cod and the Malabar grouper. Schools of snapper may keep you happy when you do not encounter the groupers.

20. Cannibal Rock
Cannibal Rock is a small seamount in Loh Dasami bay, between Rinca and Nusa Kode Island, is famous for it’s invertebrate life and it is a very easy dive with very little current. You can find many different species of invertebrates here as well as pigmy seahorses and frogfish. The fish life can also be quite good at times, with schools of snappers, surgeonfishes and quite a few species scorpion fishes. Soft coral life is excellent and very colorful .Sea apples and many other species of holothurians are abundant. Unusual nubibranches, fire urchins hosting to Coleman shrimp and much more.Invertebrate Wall is an excellent day or night dive just inside the southeastern corner of Loh Dasami bay; it is also one of the best areas in Loh Dasami for snorkeling. A very good place to see invertebrate diversity, especially during a night dive. The numbers of species and colors simply boggles and you cannot put your finger on the wall without touching yet some other creature. Crevices in the wall hold sleeping fish spiny and slipper lobster and a variety of other crustaceans such as cleaner shrimp, reef crabs and decorator crabs. There are colorful poisonous sea urchins, bright red sea apples, and beautiful soft corals. Spanish dancers and a great variety of tunicates. Apart from sleeping coral trout and turtles you can see cat sharks, all kinds of cardinal fishes, and parrotfishes dreaming away in their cocoons. 9 times out of 10 the current will be flowing to the north so the best entry point is just around the western most tip of the headland then swim reef right into the bay with the current.

21. Crinoid’s Corner
Crinoid’s corner is a good dive to do early in the morning as it catches the morning sun. Located in a small cove just outside the southern entrance to Loh Dasami on the island of Nusa Kode, almost directly opposite Invertebrate Wall. Entry point is just south of the cove then swim along the wall with the reef at your left. It’s usually best to start at about 25 m then work your way back and forth up the wall to the surface. A lot of small invertebrate life can be found here and the wall is very colorful. It’s a nice easy dive with no current.

23. Boulders
If you travel from Crinoid’s Corner north along the coast of Nose Code into the bay of Loch Dismay you will come to a point where the coastline turn to the west and the bay opens up. Directly below this point there are several big boulders lying on the bottom. The deepest rock is in about 30 m of water and the shallowest rock is about 8 meters of water. The best point of entry is 100 meters south of the point. Here the reefs slopes down to dark sand bottom in 30 to 35meters of water. Here you will find a forest of soft coral growing on the sand. Then swim reef left up to 20 meters or so until you hit the boulders. Along the way check out all the fire urchins for the illusive Coleman Shrimp. A torch helps. This is the best location to find the shrimp in Loh Dasami as there are usually lots of fire urchins in the area. The Boulders themselves have good coral invertebrate and fish life. Quite often Mantas can be seen in this area. Also a good night dive.

24. Loh Sera
Tanjung Loh Sera. Great snorkeling along the northern shore of this cape. Superb diving all along the corner or off the corner towards some underwater pinnacles. Large pelagic like dogtooth tuna can be seen circling off the corner and around the pinnacles. Only experienced divers can go off to the pinnacle, beginners should stay along the wall. Plenty of large fish and turtles along the wall. Be ready for some close encounters of the large kind! Tanjung Loh Sera has some monster giant trevallies, potato cod, malabar grouper; schools of bump head parrotfish, napoleon wrasse, dogtooth tuna, manta rays and much more.

25. Tala
The southern point of Tala island is characterized by steep rocky walls and sometimes quite a strong surge. The dive is more than worth it though, with lots of small fish on top, interesting invertebrate life on the walls and lots of larger fish somewhat deeper. Enormous schools of surgeonfish sometimes make it difficult to see anything else since they cover the entire view. If you manage to look away from these creatures you’ll see plenty of large angry-looking snappers, white tip reef shark and sometimes other sharks and huge groupers further down among the borders.

26. German Flag
The South Komodo shoreline. Cooler water from the upwelling of the south coast provides a nutrient rich environment in this area. The high densities of plankton attract many large filter feeding manta rays, which can normally be seen swimming right at the surface along the shores and rocks of South Komodo from September to January. The water near shore is quite shallow (5 – 20m) and there are many large rocks and boulders in between which we can find huge Malabar grouper, potato cod, napoleon wrasse and schools of surgeon fishes and snappers. There is usually current at the site.

27. Manta Alley
The tiny rocky island in the South Komodo bay are great for snorkeling and diving, with sometimes lots of manta rays (September to January), even if there are no mantas it is a very good dive, very large giant trevally, sharks, beautiful coral and a very high diversity of other invertebrate life in relatively shallow water (5 to 20 m). The water can be cool in this area but never too cold to dive. Only little damage has been done to the corals in this area and the damaged corals here seem to be reviving naturally and rapidly. This site is also current affected. The best entry point is at the northeast side of the rock near a coral mound 3-5 meters below the surface.

28. TNC Rock
This dive is a pinnacle located southeast of Langkoi Island just below the surface. It is very exposed to current and can have a big surge on it. Usually one can see the swell banking up on it but on a calm day can be difficult to find. Its best to use a GPS position, as it is not marked on most charts of the area. The rock drops down into very deep water very quickly. Coral growth is stunted however the dive can be a real adrenalin rush at the right time. Lots of sharks aggregate around this site during July, August and September. Grey Reef, White tips, Hammerheads and Bronze Whalers. It is also good for pelagic fish and has some resident Potato Cod at the Southern point in 30 meters of water. Best way to dive the Pinnacle is to jump in up current, go straight down, Hang on and watch the show. Inexperienced divers should not attempt this dive.

29. Sebayor Kecil
The North western corner of Sebayor Kecil is one of the better dive sites at closer distance to Labuan Bajo. A small reef is extending towards the north west and around the edges where it drops of to greater depths, at a few hundred meters from the shore, there are some large boulders around which we can usually see groups of giants trevally, white tip reef shark, coral trout, snappers and emperors. The edges of the drop along the north coast of the island. Current can be quite strong in this area.

30. Mini Wall
Mini Wall also located on north face of Sebayor Kecil. This dive is an excellent check out dive or just a nice easy dive if you don’t wish to deal with current. The entry point marked by a long low rocky point east of the beach that is in the middle of the islands north coast. Enter just on the eastern side of the point and swim reef left around the point at 20-25 meters. Once around the point the reef slope will turn into a wall that drops to about 35 meters. Follow the wall until you get to a sandy slope in front of the beach. This marks the end of the dive. If you wish to do a second dive you can start at the sandy slope and continue reef left across the front face of the beach to where the reef turns north and runs out to another point. The whole north face of this island is good diving and usually has good visibility and calm conditions.

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Rinca Island – Best Place to See Wild Komodo Dragons

RINCA ISLAND
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK

Rincah, also known as Rinca, is a small island near Komodo island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The island is famous for komodo dragons, giant lizards that can measure up to three meters (ten feet) long. Rincah is also populated with many other species such as wild pigs, buffalos and many birds. The island can be reached with a small boat from Labuhan Bajo on the west coast of Flores.

Being the lesser known island (and less visited) than Komodo it is an ideal place to see the Komodo Dragon in its natural environment with less people to disturb them. It is easy to arrange a day trip from Labuanbajo (on mainland Flores) by small boat. Make sure to check into the park HQ.

LOCATION :
Komodo National Park lies in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, identified by WWF and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area. The Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores at the border of the Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTP) provinces. It includes three major islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and numerous smaller islands together totaling 603 km2 of land. The total size of Komodo National Park is presently 1,817 km2. Proposed extensions of 25 km2 of land (Banta Island) and 479 km2 of marine waters would bring the total surface area up to 2,321 km2.
The terrestrial fauna is of rather poor diversity in comparison to the marine fauna. The number of terrestrial animal species found in the Park is not high, but the area is important from a conservation perspective as some species are endemic.. Many of the mammals are Asiatic in origin (e.g., deer, pig, macaques, civet). Several of the reptiles and birds are Australian in origin. These include the orange-footed scrubfowl, the lesser sulpher-crested cockatoo and the nosy friarbird.

Reptiles:
The most famous of Komodo National Park’s reptiles is the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). It is among the world’s largest reptiles and can reach 3 meters or more in length and weigh over 70kg. To find out more about this fascinating creature click here.

Other than the Komodo Dragon twelve terrestrial snake species are found on the island. including the cobra (Naja naja sputatrix), Russel’s pit viper (Vipera russeli), and the green tree vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris). Lizards include 9 skink species (Scinidae), geckos (Gekkonidae), limbless lizards (Dibamidae), and, of course, the monitor lizards (Varanidae). Frogs include the Asian Bullfrog (Kaloula baleata), Oreophyne jeffersoniana and Oreophyne darewskyi. They are typically found at higher, moister altitudes.

Mammals:
Mammals include the Timor deer (Cervus timorensis), the main prey of the Komodo dragon, horses (Equus sp.), water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), wild boar (Sus scrofa vittatus), long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus lehmanni), the endemic Rinca rat (Rattus rintjanus), and fruit bats. One can also find goats, dogs and domestic cats.

Birds: One of the main bird species is the orange-footed scrub fowl (Megapodius reinwardti), a ground dwelling bird. In areas of savanna, 27 species were observed. Geopelia striata and Streptopelia chinensis were the most common species. In mixed deciduous habitat, 28 bird species were observed, and Philemon buceroides, Ducula aenea, and Zosterops chloris were the most common.

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Komodo Island : Island of the Adventures

KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
The best way to see the Komodo Archipelago, and Komodo National Park, (as with most of Indonesia), is from the safety and comfort of your live aboard vessel. Whilst we are a focused dive operation we also enjoy conducting non-dive itineraries for those who would like to explore this remarkable destination. When you travel with us we will visit the Established park facilities and less frequented destinations. There are plenty of activities and destinations for non-diving groups and spouses. Following is some natural history for the Komodo National Park.

Komodo is situated 200 nautical miles east of Bali between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa. Komodo’s symbol of international fame is its dragons, the world’s largest living Lizard. Indonesia declared the area a National Park in 1980, and in 1992 Komodo was declared a World Heritage Site. It covers 239,000 Hectares including 75,000 Hectares of land on 4 major and numerous minor islands. As with most of Indonesia, Komodo rises up from a volcanic chain, wedged between two great continents, the string of volcanic islands make up the south eastern reaches of what is known as the ring of fire. Both above and below the sea, Komodo represents a unique range of geological and biological diversity. On shore it is an amazing museum diorama of the Mesozoic era – dry tundra and reptilian supremacy.

The Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the largest lizard in the world. Also know as a varanid or monitor lizard, it grows to 2.5 meters in length and around 125 kilos. At the top of the food chain the dragon is an alert and agile predator, worthy of respect. Their bacteria laden bite is lethal without medical treatment. Their tails are also a powerful and dangerous weapon, which can be thrashed with bone breaking force. The regular flicking of their forked tongues drives their acute sense of smell. It is unlikely that they would try to make a meal of you, but they have been responsible for the death of numerous villagers who hold great respect for the “Ora Ora”. They are also held responsible for the loss of a Dutch photographer in 1975. Only his camera and hat were recovered.

In addition to the world famous Komodo dragon, the larger inhabitants are Buffalo, Deer, Monkeys, Pigs, and horses. Further down the scale indigenous frogs, snakes and lizards abound on the island. Not to forget the endemic aptly named Komodo Rat. Over 150 species of birds have been identified in Komodo National Park, many of which are migratory and more representative of Australasian than Asiatic species. Distinctive species include megapodes, yellow-crested cockatoos, imperial pigeons, white-breasted sea eagles and maleos. With the lowest rainfall in Indonesia, Komodo’s Fauna and Flora are more similar to an Australian landscape than the lush tropical environment typical of Bali. Sheer cliff faces, and steep rocky mountains reaching high above the Horizon give it an unforgiving appearance. In stark contrast the deserted pink sand beaches invite travelers to venture ashore and explore the hills and foreshores of these mostly uninhabited islands. Dry and sun burnt for most of the year, after the monsoonal rains the hills are transformed with a thick soft blanket of verdant green grass. Mist filled valleys cut deep into the heart of the islands. Heavily wooded and with a microclimate of their own they host and are home to the greatest concentrations of wildlife. The exposed hills and highlands are sparsely wooded fields of savannah grassland. They support herds of grazing species. Rusa deer (Cervus timorensis), wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), wild boar ((Sus scrofa), the macaque monkey (Macaca fascicularis), and wild horse (Equus qaballus) roam the hills. Conscious of the ever-present threat of the predatory dragons. There are presently some 2,300 inhabitants living within the Komodo National Park, spread out over 3 settlements (Komodo, Rinca and Kerora). Visitor Facilities are available at the main ranger stations on Komodo and Rinca, with basic facilities and accommodation available.

Undoubtedly a land of contrasts the long dry summers, reptilian supremacy, raging currents and difficult access have long served to protect this marine paradise. We are very concerned for the environment in which we operate and are very keen to protect the future of this environment. We are working together with the National Park Management to help protect and preserve the park. If you would like to show your support please approach one of the following organizations.

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Komodo National Park : Komodo Dragon, World Largest Monitor Lizard

Lying 200 nautical miles east of Bali, Komodo National Park nestles between the large islands of Sumbawa and Flores, all of which are part of Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara on current maps).

This unique biosphere was born in the great volcanic uplift that formed Sumatra, Java, Bali and the islands lying eastward to Papua New Guinea. In 1928 the Dutch colonial government of the then Dutch East Indies formalized the nature reserve status originally conferred on Komodo in 1915 by the Raja of Biwa in neighbouring Sumbawa. Indonesia decreed the area a national park in 1980, and in 1992 Komodo was declared a World Heritage Site. Despite these official designations and its obvious interest to the scientific community, Komodo is daily suffering irreparable damage by the hand of man. Almost before the world can properly appreciate the natural beauty of Komodo – home of the Komodo Dragon – its wonders are in danger of disappearing forever.  It is disturbing that so little has changed since the declaration of Douglas Burden, leader of the 1926 American expedition to Komodo:
“a place where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile”

Location:
Komodo National Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the Lesser Sunda Islands, at a distance of 200 nautical miles to the east of Bali. It has a total land area of 75,000 hectares and encompasses a number of islands, the largest of which are Komodo (34,000 hectares), Rinca (20,000 hectares), Padar, Nusa Kode, Motang,  numerous smaller islands, and the Wae Wuul sanctuary on Flores. A total of 112,500 hectares of the surrounding waters are also under the jurisdiction of the park rangers.

History:
In 1938 Padar and the south and west of Rinca were declared a Wildlife Sanctuary, but it was only in 1965 that the island of Komodo was formally included in the sanctuary. Komodo National Park was established by government decree in 1980 followed by the designation of Komodo National Park as a World Heritage Site in 1991.

Climate:
Komodo National Park has the lowest annual rainfall in all of Indonesia, with an abbreviated rainy season in the month of January. For most of the year Komodo is dry and hot, parched by arid winds from the Australian desert that blow from April through October. Maximum temperatures reach 43 C, with minimums of 17 C in August.

Topography:
Most of the Park is dry, rugged and hilly, a combination of ancient volcanic eruptions and more recent tectonic uplift of sedimentary seabeds. The irregular coastline is indented with rocky headlands and sandy bays, many framed by soaring volcanic cliffs.
Komodo island  is 35km long and 15km wide, and is mountainous on a north to south axis, with an average altitude of 500-600m. The highest peak is Satalibo (735m) in the north. Most of the island is lontar palm savannah with remnates of rainforest and bamboo forest at higher elevations. On Rinca the land rises gradually from the north coast to a plateau that ends at Mount Dora (667m) in the south.  The rugged south coast is very sheer as a result of volcanic activity in the distant past, as evidenced by the crater bay in which Nusa Kode nestles.

Fauna:
The Park encompasses most of the recognized habitat of the largest known lizard, the world famous Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). The Park is also home to Sunda deer (Cervus timorensis), wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), wild boar ((Sus scrofa), the macaque monkey (Macaca fascicularis), and wild horse (Equus qaballus). All the large mammals have been introduced by man, but indigenous frogs, snakes and lizards abound on the island. The sole endemic species found on Komodo is the aptly named Komodo rat. Over 150 species of birds have been identified in Komodo National Park, many of which are migratory and more representative of Australasian than Asiatic species. Distinctive species include sulphur-crested cockatoos, imperial pigeons, white-breasted sea eagles and maleos. The seas surrounding the park teem with over 1000 species of fish and marine mammals

Komodo is unique in the world in having two distinct marine habitats – tropical and temperate – a few nautical miles distant from each other. There is a constant flow of the warm tropical waters of the Flores Sea to the north which mix with the cold upwellings brought from the south by the Indian Ocean. The upwellings are caused by deep ocean currents originating in Antarctica which collide with the volcanic shelf of Komodo and surface.

The upwellings, combined with the oxygenation occasioned by the fierce currents surrounding Komodo, provide an endless supply of plankton and nutrients to the surrounding seas. This in turn, supports an amazing and colourful profusion of temperate marine life – invertebrate, mammal and fish. A few mile to the north lies an even greater multitude of tropical fish life that are normally found in equatorial waters. All in all, there are over 1000 species of fish and marine mammals found in the waters surrounding Komodo.

Komodo is unique in the world in having two distinct marine habitats – tropical and temperate – a few nautical miles distant from each other. There is a constant flow of the warm tropical waters of the Flores Sea to the north which mix with the cold upwellings brought from the south by the Indian Ocean. The upwellings are caused by deep ocean currents originating in Antarctica which collide with the volcanic shelf of Komodo and surface. The upwellings, combined with the oxygenation occasioned by the fierce currents surrounding Komodo, provide an endless supply of plankton and nutrients to the surrounding seas. This in turn, supports an amazing and colourful profusion of temperate marine life – invertebrate, mammal and fish. A few mile to the north lies an even greater multitude of tropical fish life that are normally found in equatorial waters. All in all, there are over 1000 species of fish and marine mammals found in the

Even WITHOUT a Dragon, Komodo and its surrounding islets would for me still remain a powerful symbol of that vanishing Garden of Eden deep within our collective memory . With its strange orchids, flying lizards, forests of giant fan palms and scarcity of man, it seems less like another Place than another Time. So remote is this tiny island that it wasn’t until l911 that Varanus Komodoensis, its 10-foot long, running swimming, tree-climbing lizard, was described by science and revealed to the world as fact rather than myth.

Located at the edge-seam of the world, in no one continent and no one sea, the dragon islands of Komodo National Park are also surrounded by a furious moat For the Lesser Sunda archipelago, that thin chain of islands stretching east from Bali towards New Guinea, is also the grid which  divides the warm shallows of the South China seas, from the cool deeps of the Indian ocean. The ebb and flow between these opposing bodies of water produces not only the protective navigational hazard of tidal races and whirlpools, but also an astounding mixture of marine creatures of both warm and cold water, some species having no business to be anywhere near here at all, others found no where else, and many more constantly revealing themselves to be new to science. No less than fifteen different varieties of whales and dolphins have recently been observed here, from pods of shark-eating tropical Orcas, to the two-foot long, exuberantly acrobatic spinner dolphins.

Whereas the Dragon was only discovered in the first decade of this century, it wasn’t until the l960’s that it was properly surveyed and studied. In the 1970’s it began receiving is first trickle of tourists, and only the l980’s did its waters first begin being plumbed by SCUBA divers – and now, at the turn of the Millennium, just when we have started to see how mysteriously rich this region is, we find it under threat. The burgeoning population of Indonesia, the hunger for fish and meat, has brought dynamite and cyanide fisher bandits to Komodo’s reefs, and marauding armed poachers seeking the wild deer and pig of the islands, which are the essential life support of the great lizard. Our last dragon, and its moat of marine mysteries, should be passed on, don’t you think, to continue to remind future generations of our earliest beginnings and of that dwindling Garden of Eden within us all?