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  • Writer's pictureWill Appleyard

The Banda Sea : 900 nautical miles of exploration

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Covering 900 nautical miles over 11 days by a typically Indonesian Pinisi dive boat, we leave a remote set of Indonesian islands just 200 nautical miles north of Australia. The diving expedition begins from the island of Saumlaki beside west Papua and completing the journey on the island of Sorong, east of Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

Our team explores over 25 world class dive sites including The Forgotten Islands, Nil Desperandum atoll and the sulphur spewing, almost Jurassic Manuk Islands or The Island of Snakes, as it's also known. We dive in areas raining with olive sea snakes, eye balled by hammerhead sharks and taste nutmeg and cinnamon with the people of Banda Niera. We fly with oceanic manta rays around the island archipelago of Misool, southern Raja Ampat and find ourselves engulfed by anchovy bait balls surrounded by feeding giant trevally and squadrons of mobula ray. Often, we were more than 100 nautical miles from the nearest inhabited island and frequented dive sites home to a volume of marine flora and fauna seldom seen on the planet. For the most part, rarely do we see another dive boat.

We cross defined, contrasting lines of remote, uninhabited and untouched pristine wilderness and then into areas where communities have become developed enough to import plastic packaging, but not developed enough to deal with it (although I often question whether the so called "developed world" is able to deal with it either). Here, we find an ocean of plastic polluted reefs, seas of single use and currents transformed into washing machines of waste.

We also find hope and inspiration in the form of the strictly protected Misool marine park.

This protection allowed this ecosystem to flourish once again and casts the underwater explorer back to a time when the ocean was untouched by the ravages of commercial fishing and negative human interference. This, is what an ocean should look like.

Trip commissioned by Dive Damai

DIVER magazine feature out March 2020

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