Sweetlips. Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.
Gaterins at the Otdima site. Raja Ampat, Indonesia, July 2012.

Unforgettable dives in Otdima

  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

Otdima is a beautiful dive site, teeming with life, swept by a current of madness. One of my favorites in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

The Strait of Dampier

Indonesia, July 2012. I am from return to Raja Ampatin West Papua. I have only one desire, to return to explore the extraordinary underwater world that I had discovered during my first stay here, in March 2012.

Among my favorite dive sites: Otdima. It is a high coral bottom, in the middle of the Dampier Strait.

There is always a crazy current on this site. It is better to be accompanied by a guide who knows the area well, in order to get into the water at the right place and not to miss the spot that all underwater photographers love, here: the "patate aux gaterins".

We can see it well on the pictures that I managed to take while approaching: fishes, particles, my bubbles... all that flies in all directions, carried away by this permanent gust of underwater "wind".

The bench of gaterini

There is no more photogenic than the gaterins, with their bright yellow livery and their taste for group life. They gather in a tight school, facing the current.

Shooting their portrait is a real challenge. The current keeps pushing me towards them. Huddled behind a small pile of coral on the sand, I hold on as best I can with one hand to my stickI always carry this iron rod with me, and I stick it in the sand or in dead coral when I need support. With the other hand, I try to hold the bulky case of my 7D.

Sweetlips. Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.
My favorite picture of the gaterins in Otdima! (Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.)

Sometimes, the current throws me straight into the bench, causing the fish to flee in all directions.

I then had to paddle hard to get back to where I was, in front of the coral potato. The gaterins, on the other hand, are not moved by my sudden flight. They immediately formed the school again, and resumed the pose.

Sweetlips. Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Sweetlips. Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Sweetlips. Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Sweetlips. Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Drift diving

After a while, we have to resign ourselves to leave the gaterins and their coral potato, to explore the rest of the site...

Let's go for a long and crazy drift!

Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.We run at full speed, in the middle of schools of small fish that wriggle cheerfully in the current.

Fortunately, we are a small team - only three divers. We make sure we do not lose sight of each other and stay close to each other, in the current that carries us away.

Huge coral tables pass under our fins. Here and there, other sponges welcome gorgonians, crinoids and thousands of glass fish.

The profusion of fish always amazes me. Otdima is really splendid and is one of those sites, in Raja Ampat, where you don't know where to look, because there is so much life everywhere. It is just spectacular, hallucinating. I open my eyes behind my mask, subjugated.


No really, even the sites of AlorRaja Ampat, where I dived a few days earlier, during this new Indonesian trip, does not compare. Raja Ampat outclasses, by its richness and diversity, all the dive sites I know, in Asia or elsewhere... It is even better than Komodo, better than Sipadan.

Glass fish. Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

To admire the spectacle, and not to drift too far, we allow ourselves some halts. That also allows me to make some pictures.

A sign from one of us is enough. Each of us then takes out his hook and ties himself to a piece of dead coral. We float like little flags, hanging on our lines.

Otdima, Raja Ampat. Indonesia, July 2012.

Otdima... Unforgettable!


Some links

Want to know more about this trip? About diving in Indonesia? About Raja Ampat? I'm compiling below some links to articles already published on Bubbles Underwater & Beyond… 😉

All the posts published about this trip in Indonesia, mixing Alor and Raja Ampat, are here:
→ Alor + Raja Ampat - Indonesia - July 2012

Travel Indonesia: Alor and Raja Ampat - July 2012

All the posts about only Raja Ampat, during this July 2012 trip, are here (more articles coming soon):
Raja Ampat - Indonesia - July 2012 

The articles about my very first stay at Raja Ampat, in March 2012, are here:
→ Raja Ampat - Indonesia - March 2012

If you are only interested in diving in Raja Ampat, all the posts are here:
→ All my dives in Raja Ampat

Finally, all the articles about my dives in Indonesia (Bali, Borneo, Pulau Weh, Sulawesi, Flores and Komodo, Raja Ampat...) are gathered at the end of this link:
All my dives in Indonesia

  Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012

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  1. Bright, colorful, aerial, no, underwater, Otdima and its fish is fascinating! Tying to the coral, with a rope, like a peaceful pirate of the underwater world, is not lacking in charm, the last photo is striking! Bravo! 😉

    1. @Ysbilia: yes, the hook is an essential accessory, Raja Ampat, to better enjoy some sites. Delighted that this restitution in photos pleases you ...
      For the last picture, imagine me floating in the same position as Julia, held by my rope, but maneuvering in addition my big box to take the picture... Acrobatic!!! 😀

  2. For having dived 5 times (I think) in the Dampier Strait, I don't remember a site named Otdima. But sometimes the names vary according to the clubs. Chicken, Sardine, Melissa Garden ... are spots that, to my knowledge, are "listed" and have the same name from one club to another. I remember diving on "Blue Magic" (and it was really magical") and 10 days later with another provider, the name had changed. But Otdima..... never heard that name. We'll have to go back there, and if there was a need for a pretext, here's a good one! Hum, the dives in Raja Ampat... the best. But shhh... don't say it too much!

    1. @IsaM: Otdima is a long reef in the middle of the strait, not far from where you were staying, I think... 😉

      This site is not easy to find, when the sea is a bit rough, because you have to be able to distinguish the bottom to know where to drop the divers. Maybe it is a site only "known" and dived by the Papua Diving people? In any case, this is the kind of spot that can only be dived in small groups, I think... It seems to me unimaginable or rather complicated, to drop a big group of divers there at the same time.

      With Papua Diving, I also dived several times on Cape Kri, not far from the Sorido Bay Resort, where there is another spot for gaterins, but a little deeper, in the 38-40 meters range: there, at the bottom, at the foot of the coral slope, there is a giant school, a huge yellow ball of fish, really spectacular by their number, as I had never seen before (pictures to come).

      I don't know how many dives I total in the Dampier Strait, with the two stays I made there, but not far from 40 or so, I think. Among the famous spots in this region of Raja Ampat, Blue Magic and Sardines are my two other favorite sites... 🙂

      But shh ...

  3. I can imagine the difficulties you must have had to photograph these gaterins... we literally "see" that there was plenty of ,ouvement in the water 😉 It's superb!

  4. It's beautiful, really, transfixed!!! :o. I'm not much of a diver, I'm more into the air, but wow, frankly, there's more to discover and be amazed at how nature is made. I love it, thanks for sharing.