Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
On the eve of my departure for Bali, I take you back to Indonesia, but under the surface, in the Togian Islands (Sulawesi, July 2007). The dives in Togian seemed less spectacular than those in Bunaken or Lembeh, during this trip: coral more damaged, life less abundant. And yet, by taking your time, you discover a lot of treasures.
Against all odds, it is here, in the Togians, that I crossed species of nudibranchs unpublished for me. Some that I had never, or rarely, seen elsewhere.
I was happy to flash them, over our underwater expeditions ...
Bathing in snorkeling (fins-mask-tuba or PMT in French), near the pontoonIsland Retreat (Bomba), or on the edge of the sandy mangrove of the neighbouring island of Poyalisa, are full of surprises: curious batfish, shy clown fish, unusual nudibranchs, cute anemone shrimps, spiroform worms with graceful feathers.
All in less than two meters of water, in bright sunshine. Thanks to so much light, all this underwater world takes on beautiful colors. Sometimes I do not even need to use my flash.
The children of my Dutch friends, who are happily paddling a few meters from me, are at the party and run the batons, who are running away, frightened to be the object of so much attention ...
During our first real underwater explorations, I am at first surprised by the quantity of tubular sponges hanging on the reef on which we dive, near Bomba (Taupan I).
There are really a lot, of good size. They have a ghostly look in the bluish fog of water, they look like organ pipes from the depths.
When diving at the site of Pasir Tengah Atoll (lighthouse), while I'm ecstatic on a beautiful nudibranch, that I flamelessly end, I wake a big turtle stashed in a rift, a few inches.
She almost jostles me to go, terrified. And I'm a little ashamed to send him a new flash shot right in the eye. Poor turtle.
Among the dives made here, the wall of Karang Bandera seems to me more abounding, more teeming with life than the other sites. I meet the usual tropical fauna, a lot of angels and butterflies, and a beautiful stingray with blue dots.
We hide to finish near a sandy passage to watch for "garden-eels" or garden eels, which bear the ugly name spotted heterocongres in French.
As soon as we stop moving, they come out, one by one, their little heads of sand, like so many tiny living periscopes. A truly magical show
We never go to remote sites because of the wayward weather. And I regret not being able to go to Una-Una, the volcano located a few hours by boat, just in front of Bomba, one of the few places where there is still "fat", it seems.
But I will come back to speak to you in another article of this land of volcanoes, of this archipelago located on a belt of fire, which roars, which trembles and lives ... even under water.
The more we dive, the more my eyes sharpen. I note that despite areas full of dead corals, life seems to be starting again, in places. And I'm pretty proud to spot lots of critters without the help of Uwe, our guide, a very experienced German instructor.
Finally, they are not so bad, the funds of Togian. Here, we learn slowness. That's good, it's the pace that suits me, under the water. To really appreciate the dives, we must be careful to look better, to scrutinize more carefully the crevices.
But I will only be able to do six dives in the week. Weather too changeable.
Each time we trust the captain of the boat, who knows so much better than us the sea here and his moods. Even when a bright sun and a beautiful sea of oil allows a dive in the morning, he often refuses to leave the afternoon.
And every time he's right. The wind rises, the swell with it, and it's not uncommon for a heavy downpour to suddenly darken the horizon!
Another lesson from the Togians: always listen to the Captain, especially if he's from around here.