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Aurora Liveaboard




MS AURORA LIVEABOARD




MS Aurora Liveaboard



MS Aurora welcomes you to a brand new scuba diving liveaboard safari. Adventure, relaxation, comfort and respect for marine biodiversity all come together in the abundant waters and many islands of Indonesia. Marine biologists, professional divers, underwater photographers and video-operators offer professional guidance as you explore coral reefs flaunting the highest biodiversity in the world.


Construction started on the purpose built Pinisi schooner 'Aurora' in December 2007 in a traditional shipyard in South Sulawesi. For summer 2009, this regal motor sail yacht started her exploration tours for a demanding clientele of international scuba divers. As a guest aboard this superior live-aboard, you will enjoy the luxury of a traditional boat coupled with the comfort of a modern one. Built using environmentally friendly principles and having the ability to explore remote areas which only a select few – if any – have discovered...


We promise you truly unique dives and dive sites, many inspiring island excursions and ... we look forward to welcoming you aboard...







ROUTES AND PRICES



RAJA AMPAT


The huge area of Raja Ampat represents a big marine reserve, that stretches out to the north (Waigeo and neighbouring island) and to the south-west (Misool). The whole region is a labyrinth of straits between small sandstone islands eroded by the waves. The dry season is between September to March, however, rainfalls are to be expected throughout the whole year.


Price : 260 €


The price is subject to change.




Date Trip Code From/To Description Duration Price (€) Booked Option Vacant
05-16 Nov #26-12 Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat
11 Nights 2860
0
0
14
19-30 Nov #27-12 Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat 11 Nights 2860 14
0
0
03-12 Dec #28-12 Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat 91 Nights
2340
0
0
14
15-26 Dec #29-12 Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat 11 Nights 2860 0
0
14
28-08 Jan #30-12 Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat 11 Nights
2860 0
0
14


KOMODO

A journey leading us through two oceans, separating, and uniting here at the same time. A current constantly crosses Indonesia, flowing from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. Due to trade winds, the oceans have a different sea level of about 2 inches.... As the Pacific mixes with the colder Indian Ocean, at the south of the Lesser Sunda Islands, we find Pacific fauna scattered to the north and in-between the islands


Price : 240 €


The price is subject to change.




4 possible routes :

5.1.a from Bali to Labuan Bajo; 5.1.b from Labuan Bajo to Bali; 5.2 from Labuan Bajo to Labuan Bajo; 5.3 from Labuan Bajo to Maumere.

route : Satonda (only 5.1) - Sumbawa (only 5.1) - Sangeang - Banta - Rinca - Komodo - Flores (only 5.3) - Maumere (only 5.3)

Route
Embark.
Debark.
Durat.

Route
Embark.
Debark.
Durat.
5.1.a BL
26 May 10
04 Jun 10
9 Nights

5.1.a BL
31 May 11
09 Jun 11
9 Nights
5.2 LL
07 Jun 10
14 Jun 10
7 Nights

5.2 LL
12 Jun 11
19 Jun 11
7 Nights
5.1.b LB
17 Jun 10
26 Jun 10
9 Nights

5.1.b LB
22 Jun 11
01 Jul 11
9 Nights
5.1.a BL
29 Jun 10
08 Jul 10
9 Nights

5.1.a BL
04 Jul 11
13 Jul 11
9 Nights
5.2 LL
11 Jul 10
18 Jul 10
7 Nights

5.2 LL
16 Jul 11
23 Jul 11
7 Nights
5.1.b LB
21 Jul 10
30 Jul 10
9 Nights

5.1.b LB
26 Jul 11
04 Aug 11
9 Nights
5.1.a BL
02 Aug 10
11 Aug 10
9 Nights

5.1.a BL
07 Aug 11
16 Aug 11
9 Nights
5.2 LL
14 Aug 10
23 Aug 10
9 Nights

5.2 LL
19 Aug 11
28 Aug 11
9 Nights
5.1.b LB
26 Aug 10
04 Sep 10
9 Nights

5.1.b LB
31 Aug 11
09 Sep 11
9 Nights
5.1.a BL
08 Sep 10
17 Sep 10
9 Nights

5.1.a BL
14 Dep 11
23 Sep 11
9 Nights
5.3 LM
20 Sep 10
27 Sep 10
7 Nights

5.3 LM
26 Dep 11
05 Oct 11
9 Nights


BANDA SEA

The Spice Islands, that have become famous for their cloves, nutmeg and historical stories about pirates. From the intense blue Banda Sea, steep pinnacles pierce the surface, surrounding them surreal emerald-green lagoons and islands made from coral sand. These aptly named Coral Keys and are colonised by rich vegetation.


Price : 260 €


The price is subject to change.



Starttermine der Touren

Route from Maumere to Ambon : Maumere - Komba - Reong - Wetar - Gunung Api - Lucipara - Banda Neira - Ambon.

Route
Embark.
Debark.
Durat.
Banda
01 Oct 10
13 Oct 10
12 Nights
Banda
08 Oct 11
20 Oct 11
12 Nights


NORTH MALUKU

On the north side of Maluku, the sea narrows and hosts many islands and their number even increases while proceeding towards Papua. The accurate observation of sedentary animals (such as clownfish, sea-squirts) allows us to notice the changes from one island to another and to understand the role of marine currents. In the Ambon bay, we enjoy memorable muck dives (dives on muddy bottoms) which are not very attractive but extremely rich.


Price : 260 €


The price is subject to change.



Route from Ambon to Sorong: Ambon - Seram - Koon - Wajil Batan - Waigeo - Fiabajet - Farondi - Sorong

route
embark.
debark.
durat.
Maluku
16 Oct 10
27 Oct 10
11 Nights
Maluku
23 Oct 11
04 Nov 11
11 Nights



SHIP




Aurora is a spacious, double masted, teak motor-sail yacht, built according to the 'traditional Pinisi style' and designed for a discerning dive clientele.

As a guest aboard, you will experience superior standards and comfort together with the luxury of a traditional boat. Aurora has been built following modern and environmentally friendly principles and gives us the opportunity to explore remote areas which only a few – if any – have seen.


SCHEDULES AND RATES 2015                     

                                                                                                                             
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Date 


Code
Duration
From / To
Description
 Price

08 Jan to 16 Jan

 

 

 

 

#01-15

 

 

 

 

8 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$3120

 

 

 

18 Jan to 25 Jan

 

 

 

 

#02-15

 

 

 

 

7 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$2730

 

 

 

28 Jan to 08 Feb

 

 

 

 

#03-15

 

 

 

 

11 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$4290

 

 

 

11 Feb to 18 Feb

 

 

 

 

#04-15

 

 

 

 

8 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$2730

 

 

 

21 Feb to 02 Mar

 

 

 

 

#05-15

 

 

 

 

9 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$3510

 

 

 

05 Mar to 13 Mar

 

 

 

 

#06-15

 

 

 

 

11 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$4290

 

 

 

19 Mar to 27 Mar

 

 

 

 

#07-15

 

 

 

 

8 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$3120

 

 

 

30 Mar to 06 Apr

 

 

 

 

#08-15

 

 

 

 

7 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$2380

 

 

 

08 Apr to 19 Apr

 

 

 

 

#09-15

 

 

 

 

11 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Ambon

 

 

 

North Maluku

 

 

 

$4290

 

 

 

23 Apr to 04 May

 

 

 

 

#10-15

 

 

 

 

11 Nights

 

 

 

Ambon - Maumere

 

 

 

Banda Sea

 

 

 

$4290

 

 

 

07 May to 17 May

 

 

 

 

#11-15

 

 

 

 

10 Nights

 

 

 

Maumere - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$3600

 

 

 

19 May to 29 May

 

 

 

 

#12-15

 

 

 

 

10 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$3600

 

 

 

01 Jun to 09 Jun

 

 

 

 

#12B-15

 

 

 

 

8 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$2880

 

 

 

12 Jun to 21 Jun

 

 

 

 

#12C-15

 

 

 

 

9 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$3240

 

 

 

24 Jun to 03 Jul

 

 

 

 

#13-15

 

 

 

 

9 Nights

 

 

 

Bali - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$2205

 

 

 

06 Jul to 13 Jul

 

 

 

 

#14-15

 

 

 

 

7 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Bima

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$2540

 

 

 

16 Jul to 23 Jul

 

 

 

 

#15-15

 

 

 

 

7 Nights

 

 

 

Bima - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$2520

 

 

 

26 Jul to 2 Aug

 

 

 

 

#16-15

 

 

 

 

7 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$2520

 

 

 

05 Aug to 14 Aug

 

 

 

 

#17-15

 

 

 

 

9 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Bima

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$3240

 

 

 

17 Aug to 24 Aug

 

 

 

 

#18-15

 

 

 

 

7 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Bali

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$2520

 

 

 

27 Aug to 05 Sep

 

 

 

 

#19-15

 

 

 

 

9 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo- Bima

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$3240

 

 

 

08 Sept to 15 Sept

 

 

 

 

#20-15

 

 

 

 

7 Nights

 

 

 

Bima - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$2520

 

 

 

18 Sept to 27 Sept

 

 

 

 

#21-15

 

 

 

 

10 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Bima

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$3600

 

 

 

30 Sept to 08 Oct

 

 

 

 

#22-15

 

 

 

 

11 Nights

 

 

 

Bima - Labuan Bajo

 

 

 

Komodo

 

 

 

$3740

 

 

 

11 Oct to 23 Oct

 

 

 

 

#23-15

 

 

 

 

12 Nights

 

 

 

Labuan Bajo - Ambon

 

 

 

Banda Sea

 

 

 

$4680

 

 

 

26 Oct to 08 Dec

 

 

 

 

#24-15

 

 

 

 

11 Nights

 

 

 

Ambon - Sorong

 

 

 

North Maluku

 

 

 

$4290

 

 

 

08 Nov to 16 Nov

 

 

 

 

#25-15

 

 

 

 

8 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$3120

 

 

 

19 Nov to 30 Nov

 

 

 

 

#26-15

 

 

 

 

11 Nights

 

 

 

Sorong - Sorong

 

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

 

 

$4290

 

 

 


03 Dec
to 10 Dec


#27-15
7 Nights Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat $2730

13 Dec
to 22 Dec


#28-15
9 Nights Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat $3510

26 Dec
to 04 Jan


#29-15
9 Nights Sorong - Sorong Raja Ampat $3510



General Information

Aurora is a 'Pinisi schooner', a motorized two-masts sailing schooner built according to the traditional Indonesian design.


Overall length : 42 m
Length on deck : 32 m
Width : 9 m
Tonnage : 75 tons
Sailing surface : 300 m2
Power : 1 engine : Nissan 420 HP
Cruising speed : 8-10 knots



Accomodation : 7 double cabins of which 3 dispose over a third bed.
All cabins have individually controlled AC, ensuite bathroom and shower.
Stairs on both sides lead to the diving tenders
Saloon/restaurant with library, computer room/study room with PC, DVD, video, photo, recharging batteries
Spacious sun deck



Equipment on board : GPS, radio, sat-phone, echo sounder
2 generators for 220 V in each cabin (2-pole plug, without the third earth pole – like in continental Europe)
2 compressors for air, 1 compressor Nitrox
3 tenders for each 8 persons
water maker 6000 ltr/ day



Safety devices : First Aid kits
emergency oxygen
manual fire extinguishers
406 EPIRB – Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon
life vests for all passengers including crew members
2 life rafts



Layout deck 1

This is the drawing of Aurora’s upper deck :

1. foredeck, preparation area for scuba diving
2. Restaurant/bar
3. Captain’s bridge
4. Diving equipment/compressors/ laboratory
5. Lounge/photo/video area

Open sitting corner at bow; the roof of the restaurant is a very spacious sun deck.




Layout deck 2

This is the drawing of Aurora’s cabin deck, with the position of the cabins dedicated to guests and cruise director.




A guest cabin

The inside of one of the cabins

 

The History


It seems to be commonly acknowledged that the Pinisi Schooner can look back to a long tradition, but this is not the case. In fact, Pinisis have rather a short history and were born out of a successful amalgamation between the Orient and the Occident. The first was built around 1840 in Malaysia, commissioned by the Sultan Baginda Omar and designed by a French or German sailor (the history is not precise on this detail), who had married a local girl. The Sultan wanted a ship built in the western schooner style and the ship builders united the innovative European design with the antique Asiatic traditions. This is how the pinisi was born. This name, which is also written phinisi, pinisiq or pinissi, probably derives from the misspelling of pinasse that in French and German refers to a middle-sized sailing ship.



DIVING


 

Please note that prior to participating in any cruise, we highly recommend that you have at least 50 dives and/or hold an advanced certification. This is for your safety, the safety of your dive buddies and will enable you to appreciate fully, the underwater realm of Indonesia. Divers with less experience can engage in continuous training courses onboard Aurora.


Diving equipment

Some complete scuba sets are available for rental, but due to the fact that we have only limited space on board, we kindly ask you to communicate in advance if you need rental gear. Please use the appropriate form in the programmes and prices area for this purpose, indicating your approximate size. It is important for us to have a precise idea what rental equipment is needed, before we start the cruise.

Our standard tanks are 12 ltr aluminium cylinders, with single stage INT/DIN (no adaptor needed). There is also a limited number of 15 ltr cylinders available. Please indicate your needs in advance on the online registration form, we will do our best to meet your requests.



The courses

Diving courses and programmes are offered by PADI instructors who speak English, Italian, German, Spanish and French. Due to the fact that the instructors are not on board all together, and you wish to enrol in a scuba diving course, please let us know, indicating your preferred language. If you book a course well in advance, we will have time to organize the student materials in your mother tongue (manuals, videos etc.). We will always do our best to satisfy your requests.

Please note : All diving courses will be conducted on a very private basis or in extremely small groups.

You don’t hold a scuba diving certification? Non-divers have the opportunity to try out the thrilling adventure of scuba diving with the PADI Discover Scuba Diving programme or to enrol in a certification course (PADI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water Diver course) on board of MS Aurora. The course fee is to paid directly on board.



Advanced Open Water Diver

The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver is the next step of beginner divers and introduced them into specific diving areas such as deep diving (up to max. 30 metres / 100 feet) or U/W navigation, so you’ll always stay on the right track. The Advanced Diver certification enables divers to fully enjoy dive sites even in remote areas and is sometimes prerequisite to engage in specific diving activities.

This scuba dive course comprises 5 adventure dives and can be completed in 2 days. We highly recommend you to hold at least the Advanced Diver certification when if you wish to participate in an Aurora safari, or alternatively complete this course on board.



The immersions

All dives are conducted according to safe diving practices and according to your experience level.

Our guests are always guided by qualified and experienced guides, only in exceptional cases (depending on experience level and environmental conditions) dives in buddy-system without one of our guides are allowed.


The dives are usually done by zodiac (we have 3 comfortable zodiacs available). The boat crew will take care of the diving equipment, you just need to look … after yourself and maybe your personal equipment such as video-cameras, computers. A detailed briefing will explain you all about the individual dive sites, including diving route, currents, and possible biological curiosities.



The groups

We prefer to have small groups in the water, not only for your safety but to guarantee that every diver will fully enjoy the dive. If you are a photographer or video-operator, please indicate so on the registration form under download. We will do our best to form homogenous groups who have the same objective and experience level. And you will never have to run after the dive guide: also we prefer to take it easy and to go slowly.

At least daily three dives are planned plus a night dive, whenever possible. Please note that the diving programme can change at any time, subject to weather and sea conditions.


Night diving

We organize night dives on a regular basis, and whenever the safari programme and conditions permit, we will conduct night dives every day. A world you thought you knew becomes a lot different when you can see a whole new cast of critters revealed by your dive light. If you don’t have a scuba diving torch, please indicate so in the registration form under the programs and prices section.



Nitrox

Nitrox (EANx/Enriched Air) is available to divers holding a Nitrox certification. It is obviously in your responsibility to stay within safe depth limits (diving with Nitrox require more severe depth limits). If you haven’t yet a Nitrox certification, we highly recommend you to complete the PADI Enriched Air Diver course on board of Aurora. This is an easy course that permits scuba divers to extend their dive time. See Scuba Diving Courses and Programmes.



Please note : Due to the conditions at some dive sites, diving with normal compressed air is more appropriate. Our guides on board will inform our guests in advance, when it will be better to switch to another gas.




DESCRIPTION AND BIODIVERSITY

Recently, the international community of science has launched the project “Coral Triangle Initiative”. A triangular area has been identified, with its heart in East Indonesia, where reefs have the highest biodiversity in the world. The demarcation lines of the biggest marine reserve in the world and rules for its protection were defined. Due to the fact that Aurora cruises right inside this Golden Triangle of coral reefs, we wish to provide on this page some information about the extraordinary diversity of the Indonesian seas and their historic and geographical backgrounds.



RAJA AMPAT



 

The morphology

The cruise takes us to islands that inhabited bareley or at all, through a region of Indonesia where the human population density is extemeley low. Most of the larger islands are covered by an imprnetrable forest, and often hide secrets like caverns, lakes or bird species.

The islands draw the contour of streights, bays with a complex topography, lagoons almost without contact to the sea. These areas represent a little paradise from the biological point of view, because of the constant possibility to discover new unseen species.


Unique opportunities

The cruise to Raja Ampat offers unique opportunities, being one of the last natural paradises left on the planet. Our diving guides are aware of the most breathtaking and beautiful diving spots, yet some exploration is very possible and the results are always really exiting.


The ecosystems

A striking charachteristic in the Raja Ampat biology is the tight compenetration between different ecosystems. The tropical forest conquers the sea by pushing itself out through a complex system of small islands. Looking towards the top from the border of the reef, you can see the dark green of the forest, in a symbolic sight.


 

The biodiversity

Raja Ampat is in absolute the diving site with the highest biodiversity, regarding both the amount of species of fish and invertebrates. An incredible amount of fish crowds the areas near the hard corals. The diversity of the settings is simply spectacular, all due to the geography of the site.


The Coral and the reef

In this large marine park hard and soft corals with the most peculiar shapes contend the space while colonizing every square centimeter of a perfectly healthy and undamaged reef.


 

The large fish banks

The presence of large fishbanks of fish which have become rare elsewhere, like these Plectorhynchus polytaenia is the best testimony of the perfect state in which this fish community finds itself without the excessive pressure from fishing activities.


The large fish banks

The presence of large fishbanks of fish which have become rare elsewhere, like these Plectorhynchus polytaenia is the best testimony of the perfect state in which this fish community finds itself without the excessive pressure from fishing activities.



Eucrossorhinus dasypogon

The tasselled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon), or carpet shark, is an extraordinarily strange shark, very mimetic, typical for the Raja Ampat area, that mainly stays on the sea bottom. There are frequent encounters with this species, you can get easily close to him, but don’t touch: it might turn round and bite you painfully.



Cephalopolis miniata

The presence of huge specimens of coral groupers (Cephalopolis miniata) in the waters of Raja Ampat is considerable. However, in many other parts in the world this extraordinary grouper has been literally destroyed due to fishing activities and only few specimens of small dimension have survived.






Lybia tessellata

The boxer crab Lybia tessellata holds with its pincers two small anemones of the species Bunodeopsis sp. . This is a symbiosis in which the crab uses the stinging anemones for its protection while taking them around, and in return helping the anemones in their search for food.





Antennarius pictus

Sandy or muddy sea bottoms host organisms of incredible camouflage talents, like the angler fish Antennarius pictus, that stays immobile, not discernible among the sponges, and only waves a bait (a modified ray of the dorsal fin) to attract the prey.



Premnas biaculeatus

The clown fish Premnas biaculeatus with its anemone Entacmaea quadricolor. In the symbiosis anemone – clown fish there are generalist species and specialist species, the latter associate only with one companion. Premnas associates exclusively with this anemone, which in return can live with many other species of clown fish.



Helcogramma striatus

This Helcogramma striatus belongs to the family of the tripterygiidae and is very common throughout whole of Indonesia, you just need to bring with you enough observation spirit to localize a tiny fish of not even one inch.



KOMODO




The landscape

During June and September, the landscape above the water is unusually dry for Indonesia. On the islands east of Bali rainfalls are rare during the dry season, and the landscape that elsewhere in Indonesia is green all year round, shows here some green and brown patches.


 

The waters

Warm (27-29º C) and calm water, extemeley rich and diverse reefs and large colonies of hard coral charachterize the pacific side. Rich fishbanks (barracudas and carangidi) patrol the reef expecially in the canals between the islands, and when the sea tide rises (expecially during the time between june and september) the intensity of the current can be noteworthy.


 

The southern coast of the Indian Ocean

The southern coast of the Indian Ocean, however, is characterized by colder water temperatures (24ºC -25º C/ /75-77ºF), locally with high waves. The reefs is shallower water are rich in soft corals and hard corals with incrusted forms, very resistant to the strong water movement. In the waters with reduced visibility, encounters with pelagic fish such as sharks, manta rays or the rare moon fish (Mola mola) are quite often.


The northern side

The reefs on the northern side of Komodo and Rinca and the Lesser Sunda Islands belong to the most versatile reefs in the whole archipelago. Magnificently conserved, rich of big formation of Acropora (table corals). Uncountable reef fish and invertebrates make this underwater landscape very interesting.


The reefs

The reefs around Komodo are mainly fringing reefs, with a rather narrow reef platform close to the shore while the outer reef descends quite steeply.



In the deeper water prevail by fan corals, along with black corals and big sponges.


Triaenodon obesus

You will encounter the small and friendly white-tip reef shark Triaenodon obesus on many of your dives along the outer reefs.



Chaetodon baronessa

Some butterfly fish, like Chaetodon baronessa, feed exclusively on the polyps of hard corals without damaging them. They remove small pieces that quickly re-grow. Their massive presence on the most beautiful reefs is evidence of the good health status of the corals.



Acanthurus leucosternon

This surgeon fish, a hybrid between two species, Acanthurus leucosternon of the Indian Ocean and Acanthurus nigricans of the Indo-Pacific, has established small populations along the coast of many Indonesian islands on the Indian Ocean side. Its presence is very typical in this area.



Asthenosoma varium

The fire urchin Asthenosoma varium hat very short spines, but it is the flexible tube feet that can inject a very painful venom. This urchin has skeletal plates loosely juxtaposed, without tight junction. This is why it is flexible and can change its shape.



Periclimenes colemani

Like in a box that is inside another box, the fire urchin here is home to a pair of Periclimenes colemani shrimps, looking for shelter. Commensal associations are very common in high diversity environments.



Amphiprion perideraion

The clown fish lives in symbiosis with the sea anemone, and they profit both from a mutual protection against predators. In Indonesia, we encounter different species of clown fish, about a dozen, living together with a dozen of different anemones. This photo shows a Amphiprion perideraion deeply immersed in Heteractis magnifica.



The mating of two crabs

During night dives on sandy bottoms, you can witness unusual phenomena like these mating crabs. Mating in crabs often is possible only during the female's mould: at this moment, the soft shelled animal is very vulnerable to predation and must act very cautiously. This is why it is not easy to observe such event.



BANDA SEA




The territory

We move from the Lesser Sunda Islands through the Molucca Sea. We are located in an area that the great naturalist Wallace identified as a transition zone between the Asian and Australian fauna (Wallacea). Even for many sedentary reef organisms, the depths and currents of the Banda Sea represent an insurmountable barrier.

The landscape and coral islands alternate with rock formation covered with a green layer, giving our passage from Asia to Oceania an almost unreal magic. We refer here to biological borders that sometimes are quite different from geographical borders. The dry season starts in this region in September and goes until end of March; however, rainfall can be expected throughout the year.



Exploration

The cruise through the Maluku Island will be under the light of an exploration. In act, we will cross areas which are still largely unexplored, we'll dive in sites known to our guides but to few human beings, and while observing the underwater communities we will also try to locate the Wallace Line of reef inhabitants.


 

The Reef

Around and in the middle of the Banda sea, the crests of the submerged pinnacles are surrounded by a magnificent reef, at times very rich of hard corals.


 

The inhabitants of the reef

Especially among the reef fish we can observe reduced fish species around the more remote islands: the distance to other reefs selects fishes which, only during their larval state in the open water, are able to reach these remote reefs. The reef fish are sedentary animals.


 

In depth

Diving deeper, the walls of the outer reef are completely covered with organisms that need only little light and strong currents to survive, like huge sponges.


 

The reef in depth

Even black corals are a recurrent encounter in the deep reefs. The Maluku Islands feature a great diversity of these animals.



Stenella longirostris

Internal Indonesian waters are frequented by many species of cetaceans. They may often be seen from the boat when they come to play with the wake and waves. See the photo Stenella longirostris.



Chelonia mydas

The green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is an herbivorous species frequenting coastal areas in Indonesia. After leaving its birthplace it undertakes long migrations to return for the mating season.



Solenostomus paradoxus

The ghost pipe fish Solenostomus paradoxus has a very long larval phase, during which it is transported passively by the currents. Its adult phase can sometimes last only a few weeks and is connected to only one mating act.



Sphyraena barracuda

The big barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) does not miss its symbiotic date with the cleaner fish (Labroides dimidiatus). These small nimble fish are greatly appreciated, as big fish cannot remove food residue and dead skin particles on their own. The cleaner fish, in return, get a free meal.



Synchiropus splendidus

The mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus) ccan often be found in areas rich in dead coral where it hides. It is extremely shy and you’ll need patience if you want to take its photo.



The sea-squirt

The sea-squirt (Rhopalaea sp.) can often be found along Indonesian reefs. If you look closely at the colours you will see that there are different species (like the one shown) that appear in some areas and are absent in others. The sedentary larvae usually settle not far from the parents and research shows invisible borders that separate the territories into biogeographic zones.



NORTH MALUKU



 

Sunset on the islands

The strong currents of the Maluku Sea divide Ambon and Seram from Papua. Our itinerary takes us to observe and compare the biological comunities that live on the two sides of the bassin.


 

Navigation

Navigating towards East Aurora sailing through a real labyrinth of islands, that progressivley becomes denser and denser.


The Reef

The Maluku reefs are a mosaic of different species, which are all living side by side and do not leave a single square centimetre of space free.


Exploration

Many reefs are mostly unknown, and their exploration also has an important role in this itinerary.


Sardine run

The season is right to intercept banks of sardines during their migration. The emotion while watching is hard to contain.


 

Black coral

Large and ramificated colonies of black coral (Antipathes sp.) crowd the deep part of the reef with their white and black colonies (their only black part is the skeleton, which is on the inner side).



Amphiprion ocellaris

The western clown fish Amphiprion ocellaris lives in this area, in symbiossis with the sea anemone, Heteractis magnifica.




Gymnothorax favagineus

Eels (Gymnothorax favagineus) love the sandy sea bottoms in the coastal bays of vulcanic islands. The Ambon bay is the home of this large exemplary.



Pomacanthus imperator

The juvenile shape of the emperor angelfish Pomacanthus imperator has a livery which is completeley different than the adult.



Octopus mototi

Octopus mototi is the name of this small octupus. The blue ring signals that this is a poisonous animl.



Chromodoris sp

This exemplary of Chromodoris sp. is deponing its eggs, by glueing them in a spiral shape on the Phyllospongia sp. sponge. Right on the eggs you can observe a very small Phyllogobius platycephalops.



Cirrhitichthys falco

A small falk fish (Cirrhitichthys falco) points at us protecting its sponge. Even with its small size, it is a ferocious predator of smaller fish.




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