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Few people in paradise.. Maratua trip report

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Hi all,


With the hopes of seeing the resident threshers at Maratua, and some Manta action at Sangalaki,

we spent a week in the famous island quartet (Maratua, Sangalaki, Kakaban, Derawan) off Borneo

in early August.


Last time we went to this area, we stayed at Derawan, which was good; this time we stayed at

the Maratua Paradise Resort, so as to maximize the diving at the site called midreef, where the

Thresher sharks have a cleaning station...


Of course, as Burns observed about the best laid plans, we only caught a glimpse of a solitary thresher on one occasion;

and the Mantas were sparse over on Sangalaki also... but despite this, it turned out to be a fantastic

dive trip: Maratua has great diving with excellent mix of the big and the small. Maratua Paradise resort

is just beautiful -- though, despite this being high season, there were only four/six divers during the week

that we dived there.


Highlights for me were two species of pygmy seahorses among the tiny, and friendly turtles and bumpheads among the large.

The detailed trip report is here: Maratua trip report, Ajay, Aug 2011


And here are a couple of images to add color to the post.


Baby Octopus on mask:




Pair of pygmys:





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Thanks Don. The baby octo could fit on my fingernail. Amazingly, even at this size, these little guys

have fantastic grip with their suckers. I though I could just slide it off the mask-lens, but it

just held its ground -- finally, I just hung my mask underwater for probably 5 min till it decided

to make a move off the mask and into the ocean.

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Spent 10 says at Sangalaki about 12 years ago when it was run by Borneo Divers. Some of the best diving we had done (at the time...)


The mantas were mysteriously "sparse" for the first part of the trip, but just after the full moon we had dive after dive of dozens of them. We would see them on almost all the sites, but the easiest way to fnd them would just be cruise around in the dive boat until you saw a bunch of flapping at the surface and then jump in. There was a Malaysian film crew at the resort (which was really just a bunch of huts on the beach) that caught a great scene of over 50 mantas in less than 15 feet of water all feeding... (side story: we got a visit from the the local Indonesian patrol boat because the film crew had snuck in from Tawau by boat - never went through customs, etc. so they were essentially deported [back to Tawau] after 4 days).


Kakaban had some great diving - back then you had a chance of seeing all kinds of cruising sharks at the Point (we saw several hammerheads, 1 thresher, and a number of grey reefies). The dive master said they on occasion would see tigers off the point as well... (looking for turles... which are everywhere).


What I didn't see a lot of in your images were nudibranchs - the slopes around Sangalaki were covered in nudibranchs, including several only found in Borneo and the southern Philippines.


Thanks for the trip report - brought back some great memories of the area...

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Thanks oneyellowtang,

and yes, we had a similar experience swimming with Mantas four years ago. Your comment about full

moon made me wonder, do they really prefer feeding around full moon times, and why? I can add

one data point.. since we were there at new moon, and did not see many of them.


And indeed, Kakaban's baracuda point was by far my favorite site for this trip.. I like it much more

than the channel (which is on Maratua Island, but takes the same 30-40min travel time from MPR),

because the reef is much richer.


There are still plenty of nudibranchs around, but mostly fried-egg and other warty kinds; definitely not

too many colorful ones.. and certainly no match in color/variety as at any random point in Philippines.


Indonesia diving is awesome, I'm already thinking of a Raja Ampat or Komodo trip this Winter..

or maybe Bangka+Lambeh.




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Love the little octopus¨!


I have been at Maratua Paradise Resort back in 2006. It was brand new and we were the only 2 divers there! Great diving we had...

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