Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dragons and pink beaches

We weighed anchor early this morning at 06:00 as the tide was getting too low for Sea Turtle (only 2 metres). Looking back, we saw 3 deer on shore where we had had our bonfire the night before. Seems weird to see deer way over here in Indonesia near Rinca Island.

Today was the day for the 4 of us to see the Komodo dragons, the world's biggest monitor lizard, and found only on the 2 islands of Rinca and Komodo. But first we had to find the bay where we could anchor. The guidebooks and charts had it marked wrong but we found it at S08°39.180' E119°48.872' and went ashore.

Komodo National Park (guide, Aaron, Dee, Judy)

Our 1st sight ashore was of monkeys around the camp. These monkeys are sometimes caught by the Komodo dragons for food but not too often as they are thankfully too fast for the dragons. The dragons can spring short distances, lifting their tails as they run. They also hunt goat, deer, boar, miniature wild ponies, and even water buffalo.

Too cute to eat

You must have a guide as the dragons can be dangerous. One climbed the stairs into the office and bit a volunteer who had to be rushed to hospital by speedboat for antibiotics as the dragon's saliva quickly induces blood poisoning. When motionless, they can be hard to spot in the dry scrub.

Speak with forked tongue?

Our guide filled us in with information about the lizards as we went on a hike. They can measure over 3 metres (10 feet) long. They have a muscular tail, huge claws, fearsome teeth, and a long yellow forked tongue. They kill their prey with their tail or by biting. When bit, their victim will slowly die and the Komodo just lies back and waits. They only eat about once a month. Surprisingly, they are also cannibalistic.

Komodos hanging out

The 1st 5 years of their lives are spent living in trees for safety, until they are about 1 metre in length. Approximately 1,100 Komodo live on Rinca and 1,300 on Komodo Island.

Enjoying the sun

Now finished with Komodos, it was time to snorkel to cool off so we moved Sea Turtle to Padar Island (S08°38.038' E119°35.169'). Do not get in the water at Rinca as crocodiles are there!

Once again we had a successful viewing of the creatures and coral in the ocean. This large clam had shades of brown and was about a foot across in size (the 1 that I saw when I was snorkelling while the others were diving was even bigger!)

Large clam

As well as black starfish and purplish-blue starfish, this bumpy orange starfish lying on the sandy bottom surrounded by seagrass was discovered...

Dee found a few lion fish hiding in the rocks and hailed everyone over. We cautioned Aaron and Dee on the venomous nature of these dangerous and spiky fish. There was also a large moray eel trying to stay out of sight.

Dangerous lion fish

We dinghied ashore and were stunned to see the colour of the sand - a very bright reddish pink! This beach was being created by the breaking up of red coral as it washed ashore and broke down into finer pieces, mixing with the white sand.

PINKEST beach we have ever seen

Red coral found on shore

We motored the short distance to Komodo Island (S08°35.805' E119°31.142') where we were asked by a longboater if we were interested in buying any souvenirs from his family. We bought a couple of trinkets as we like to support the locals whenever possible.

Under a full moon, we then had another bonfire on shore and watched as later in the evening the rising tide doused it and washed the wood out to sea. Easiest way yet to put out a bonfire!

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