Day two of our Komodo boat trip.
We woke before sunrise to the return of the fruit bats who make their homes in the mangrove trees near our anchorage.
We got a breakfast and after a brief stop in Komodo Village we head out to Manta Point. The first snorkeling spot of the day.
Close to the point our guide let us know that seeing the mantas depends on the tides and that usually they come through to feed at high tide. I asked what tide it was and he said he thought the tide was coming in.
We searched for a good 45 minutes for any sign the mantas may come, but they were nowhere to be found.
Our boat trolled around to the other side of a small island. The guide said we could snorkel here while we waited. He assured us that the current would carry us around to the other side of the island and the boat would pick us up there. Sure. Fine. Sounds great. So, in to the water we went. This reef, and many we saw were amazing. Hundreds of different species of brightly colored fish and corals. Tiny, tiny jellyfish pulsating in front of your mask. Smaller stingrays, parrot fish, angel fish. It was like being in “Finding Nemo”. We saw seahorses, right off the beach SEAHORSES! I’m telling you. We could reach out and tickle a Poppa seahorse right on his seahorse belly.
Everything is going swimmingly. We’re drifti.ng along, when rather suddenly and dramatically the current shifts. The boat is parked off in the distance, but it is quickly evident that there is no way we’ll make it to the boat. Before we exhaust ourselves, we signal to them to come get us.
Our guide expressed some confusion over the current and the tides. “Maybe it is just the beginning of high tide.”
“Do you mean low tide? “
“Yes. Low tide. But don’t worry, we have plenty of time.” Yeah, I thought. 6 hours or so.
We move over to another, more sheltered snorkeling spot and have a nice enjoyable swim while we wait for the manta rays. We eat lunch, have a snooze.
I asked, when high tide was.
“Well, the other day , the mantas all came at 2 o’clock, so maybe we’ll be lucky and they’ll come then.”
I asked, “Do Indonesians have tide charts?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, in the U.S., every coastal community has the time and height of the tides calculated, so people know the best time to take their boat out or the best time to fish. Is there any thing like the here?”
“No, we don’t really have anything like that.”
“How do the boaters know when the tides change?”
“I guess they just have an instinct, ya. They can look around and tell.”
Hmmm. So far we were off by 4 hours. My own instincts can tell me a high tide will come twice in the next day.
But, 4 plus hours later we were back on the hunt and it wasn’t looking too promising until the captain shouted… “Manta, Manta, Manta!”
And the chase was on. We headed the boat over that way and we all scrambled to get our gear on and we leaped into the water and this is what we saw.
Great manta rays sweeping through at high tide gobbling up plankton and moving on.
And after swimming within touching distance, I guess it didn’t really matter about the lack of tables or charts or the hours long wait. They knew they were going to come, and they did show up as advertised.