Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Coral Triangle

Sea Safari V : A Replica Bugis Schooner

If I thought the session with the dragons was exciting, I was in for the TIME of my life with the mantas ! I told Frank and the Boys that at almost 60 years of age my life's greatest moment was when i gave birth to my sons - that is now somehwat dim in my present memory and I was about to experience the next greatest experience in my life - swimming with the giant mantas !! Again, with no expectations beyond the anticipation of seeing these wonderful creatures in the wild for the first time, we went out to an area called Karang Makassar off one of the many islands in Komodo National Park ( a marine protected area ). The divers in our group had radioed back from their dive site that there were mantas gathered in that area to feed. It was around 4pm on our 2nd day and with that message we immediately abandoned one of our snorkelling sessions and headed out. We stopped the engines of the speedboat at the site and almost at once saw at a short distance from the boat the wing tips of the mantas flapping and cresting above the water. Excitement began to build and soon they were swimming right up along side the boat - beautiful black shadows gliding beneath the water on either side of the boat. On came the mask and snorkel and flippers and before I knew it I was over the side, and into the water. Excitement knows no fear and I was heady with excitement. There I was in the water face down waiting for the encounter of a lifetime ! I was not disappointed, suddenly a huge black shape appeared and this magnificent creature with an enormous wingspan glided slowly just below me. I cannot begin to tell you how i felt - I held my breath with such awe as I watched it move under me and then it was gone - I thanked God and my mother up in heaven ( and dad too ) for having given me the sheer magic of such an experience and when i got back onto the boat I was unable to put into words how I felt. When I got my breath back, I realised there were really no adequate words to describe it beyond just - awesomely magical !!! That is how I left it and it was a moment that will remain vividly with me forever - something to recall whenever I need to lift my spirit. I realised after that encounter, that many of life's treasures are there for us to behold and enjoy but if we are not careful, man will destroy them all !!
I arrived back in Bali re-charged, determined to do my bit to further the cause of the marine protection program that the Nature Conservancy has started in the area. I realise it is not just a question of guarding our natural treasures but helping to introduce sustainable development so that we do not become our own worst enemy by destroying our greatest gifts.
I have some wonderful pictures that capture this Komodo experience but nothing can compare with just BEING THERE !!