L'Sangalaki Island seen from the open sea. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
Sangalaki Island seen from the open sea. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)

Sangalaki and Maratua: sadness and disappointment in the waters of Borneo

# Borneo # Indonesia

  Borneo: Indonesia + Malaysia - July 2013

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: 

It's not all about multicolored backgroundsin the Derawan archipelago (Borneo, Indonesia). Once famous, the islands of Sangalaki and Maratua are no longer, in 2013, the fabulous diving spots they were.

2013: Sangalaki without manta rays

Four years ago, in July 2009, I had accomplished a first time the long journey to the Derawan archipelagoon the eastern coast of Borneo (Indonesian side), to see the manta rays of Sangalaki Island.

The encounter with these graceful giants, at that time, was almost certain, both in snorkeling (fins-mask-tuba) and in bottle diving. I can attest to this, at least for the period of July, when I was there. In 2009, manta rays were present in the waters around the island.

To see the manta rays evolve, from close up, it's an extraordinary spectacle... (Sangalaki, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009)
Picture of manta ray taken in July 2009 in Sangalaki with my small compact camera of the time, near the surface, while snorkeling... (Borneo, Indonesia)

Other travelers had made me dream and had decided to undertake the journey:
→ Dreams of mantas

Having followed in their footsteps, I too had a dazzling memory of Sangalaki. The show was magical. I wrote about it here, in these posts published in 2009:
The mantas rays of Sangalaki
Excursion to Sangalaki

Alas, in 2013, there is nothing to see anymore. The mantas of Sangalaki have disappeared.


Sangalaki Island seen from the open sea. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
Sangalaki Island as seen from offshore. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
There used to be a resort on Sangalaki Island, it is now abandoned. The island and the turtles that return to lay their eggs are now protected. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
There used to be a resort on Sangalaki Island, it is now abandoned. The island and the turtles that return to lay their eggs are now protected. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)

I already had some fears, while preparing this new 2013 trip to the Derawan archipelago...

I had come across various divers' reports on the Internet saying that Sangalaki was not interesting anymore. The lucky ones who recently encountered a manta ray there are rather rare.

Underwater in Sangalaki. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2009.
Sangalaki 2013: but where are the manta rays? (Photo: Bambang Sugiantoro)

On this July 2013 trip, I only made one trip to Sangalaki. But even if I had done ten, I don't think I would have encountered any manta rays. Our guides from Derawan Dive Lodge were not too eager to take us there, knowing that we would be disappointed...

We indeed wandered for almost an hour over the sand, the small coral spuds and the dead coral debris, in vain.

So I just "walked" my 7D underwater, for not much. And because of the lack of mantas, I was used as a model by another sub-photographer - Bambang, a very nice Indonesian, who came to spend a few days of vacation in the area, with his wife and friends.

What has happened in four years? Why are there no more manta rays?

Our dive-guides were evasive at first, claiming that we could still see manta rays, when there was plankton... (Except that the last time they had seen one was almost a month ago and it was from the deck of the boat). Anyway, they finally agreed that the mantas in the area had probably all been caught, or almost.

In fact, manta rays (or mobulas) are victims of the recent Chinese market craze for their gills, which are now considered a delicacy - supposedly beneficial to health - in the same way as shark fins...

Small explanatory summary to read on 20minutes.fr :
Manta ray soup could cause the extinction of the species
For more information, you can visit these pages on Mantatrust.org :
Gill Plate Trade
Manta Fisheries
Also read this recent article on the Stopsharkfining website:
The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays

It is one thing to read articles about the ongoing extinction of manta rays. It is another thing to experience it, on my modest scale as a tourist-diver, on the Sangalaki site...


Disappointment also at the Maratua Channel

Not far from Sangalaki Island, the Maratua archipelago is really beautiful.

I only took a few pictures from far away, from the boat. Traditional villages with houses on stilts, small fishing boats coming and going on the azure waters... Life seems quite peaceful here.

Near Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
Near Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
One of the villages of the Maratua archipelago. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
One of the villages in the Maratua archipelago. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
A white sand bank, as if set against the turquoise horizon of Maratua waters. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
A white sandbar, as if set against the turquoise horizon of the waters of Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
Sea of'oil and turquoise water near Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
Oil sea and turquoise water near Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)

But I was disappointed by the underwater world of Maratua. There is a lot of dead coral and not much life - with the notable exception of the well-named Turtle Point, where one can meet for sure and in great numbers turtlessometimes very big.

The famous Maratua channel, with its strong current (which is supposed to provide abundant underwater life and schools of wriggling fish) no longer deserves its nickname of "Big Fish Country".

The reason is dynamite fishing - still practiced today. Several times, during our dives on the nearby island of Kakaban, we heard explosions underwater...

During this 2013 stay, I made six dives in Maratua, very uneven and never exceptional...

Among the beautiful encounters: in addition to the turtlesa tiny bench of yellow-tailed barracudas of which I managed to take some pictures (below); a school of barracudas a little bigger but seen from too far away, in the blue; and an imposing school of humpback parrotsI captured their progress on video, in a fog of sand and debris raised by their raid on the reef (I won't put it here, the quality is really rotten).

A crossbred turtle in Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
A crossbred turtle in Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
A small school of yellowtail barracudas photographed in Maratua (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013).
A small school of yellowtail barracudas photographed in Maratua (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013).
Yellowtail barracudas in Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)
Yellowtail barracudas in Maratua. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2013)

But during our dives, no sharks, no schools of jacks, no swirls of fish - nothing exceptional about "big".

In short, a big disappointment - including for our guides, who seemed to hope for better. Spectacular encounters may still be possible in Maratua, but one should probably be luckier than I was...

I copy below what I noted in my logbook, during my last immersion in the Maratua Channel: "Disappointing. Nothing. We stayed a long time waiting in the cold current, with our hooks, to see something... Nothing. Just a turtle at the end of the dive."


Certainly, I am glad to have returned to the Derawan Archipelago, for turtlesfor the incredible Jellyfish lake of Kakaban and his falling full of life.

But to divers looking for thrills and great shows, I would say that in 2013 Sangalaki and Maratua are probably no longer worth the effort to accomplish such a long journey. Dynamite fishing and overfishing have already caused great damage in this area. And it is not likely to get better in the years to come...

(But as I mention above in my updates, in 2017 it seems like it has still improved. Check out the forums with people who have been there recently...)

  Borneo: Indonesia + Malaysia - July 2013

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  1. @Corinne: I can imagine your disappointment....What a sadness this dynamite fishing is 🙁 After the shark fins, now it's the gills of mantas! And if that's all there was....That's why I fully intend to continue to travel our beautiful planet, to discover it, while there is still time! It's not that I'm a pessimist, but all the same! Well, nothing is lost, and I hope that soon you will bring us again beautiful pictures, as you know so well how to do it 🙂

    1. @Didier: I tell myself that it is better, sometimes, not to return to certain places...

      That said, I went to Sipadan next. It was my 3rd time there, and I was not disappointed. You'll see, I brought back images that make you go "wow"...

      But Sipadan is a protected area, which is not the case of the Derawan archipelago (except for the turtles).

  2. Salam Corinne,

    Your article confirms and reconfirms what some people have told me, my God what a sadness!
    I have the memory of very beautiful bottoms in Sangalaki, with a lot of marine life even without mantas, what about it? you talk about dead coral everywhere?
    Oh, I forgot: even when there is nothing to photograph, your pictures are beautiful!

    1. @Pit: I'm glad you left a little note, you who was one of the inspirations of my first trip there... 😉

      In Sangalaki, already in 2009, I remember that the sandy bottom with a few coral patties where we met the mantas, was nothing extraordinary. Nowadays, it is not better... Not only dead coral, but nothing very exciting. We met the usual small tropical fauna, here and there, along with potatoes and small coral groves, sponges, etc. But nothing to be excited about.

      In Maratua, there is not only dead coral, it depends on the place. Here and there, there are some beautiful gorgonians, coral tables, coral clusters with some life (the usual small tropical fauna)... But nothing exuberant or abundant. The entrance of the pass, on the other hand, is very sad, with dead coral everywhere...

      You had the chance to discover this place before it gets worse ...

  3. All right, let's move on. Nothing to see. 😡

    On the other hand: thanks, it will save me the detour! Not to hide anything from you, the trip didn't tell me anything worthwhile, and your article confirms it to me, Holidays are always so short and I have so much to do to go back to places that are really worth it (In the "places not to go back to" series, I lost 4 days to Maumere this summer 😕 ).

    1. @ Ludovic / Wet & Sea: Yep, knowing your tastes and requirements in terms of travel and diving, I don't advise you to go there... If you want to go to Borneo, it's better to spend a little more time in Sipadan.

      As for Maumere, it is sure that I will not put it in my top sites. But I still liked my dives there, richer than what I expected, in fact. And contrary to you, I did not have the impression of having "wasted" my vacation time there. Let's say that as part of a discovery of Flores, with Komodo as a highlight for diving, it is worth it. If it's just for Maumere, such a long trip is not worth it, for sure...

    2. My reference to Maumere is that it got even worse. I had gone through 3 years ago with the feeling that I had probably missed some things, but this year it was a really miserable fishy side. 😯

      The positive point is that I brought back a liter of "madu asli Flores", there is no better in the world than this wild coffee honey 😛 ... but I could have stayed 3 days more in Alor, which made me rather good impression once accustomed to the delirious current.

    3. In places that are worth visiting after Raja Ampat, there is Ambon. As well as lembeh, with 10 times less divers. Ludovic, you have hello robert blue rose.

  4. Thank you for this report Corinne. Very nice pictures above the water... but a long trip that I will not make, even if the cruisers and diving centers let me believe it... your feeling is much more reliable.
    How distressing... eating manta ray.... will we ever have to say that we were lucky enough to admire them?

    1. @Manta: Frankly, I would not recommend the trip just for diving, except to be a turtle crazy ...

      For the rest, Derawan is nice for the muck-dive, but the island is not getting better either, regarding waste management. It has become a very popular destination also for Indonesian tourists, there are more and more people, with new guesthouses, small restaurants and stores. The atmosphere of the village has remained nice, but this influx has obviously repercussions on the immediate environment of the island, with more and more garbage accumulated in some places under the stilt houses. Some Western tourists, who naively landed on what they had imagined to be an immaculate island, fall down...

      Kakaban is uninhabited and still has a wild and preserved side. I found Kakaban very nice for diving, and we saw a lot of stuff, including several times eagle rays.

      Maratua and Sangalaki, on the other hand, do not offer what some tour operators still boast about... Already, in 2009, a dive-master I met in Derawan, who had worked for a chic resort in Maratua, had explained to me that the entrance to the pass had been dynamited and that it was not like before. At that time, I had not dived in Maratua, due to lack of time and the fact that I was unable to charter a boat, so I cannot compare it with Sangalaki. But what I discovered four years later confirms that it has not gotten any better.

      Yes, it's sad to think that we may have seen things underwater that we will probably never see again. In March, the CITES organization succeeded in having two species of manta rays put on the list of protected animals, but I don't really see how to enforce this kind of decision...

  5. Hello Corinne
    I just came back from a week of diving in Raja Ampat on the island of Kri, it was heavenly! I had read all your articles before leaving to make me dream even more and I found there the same impressions described in your articles. I think I'll go back there very soon, really magical .....
    I met a Dutch archaeologist who had scoured the planet and for him Maratua and the surrounding islands were among the most beautiful dive sites, which should be explored at all costs, but he also went there 4 years ago. I was thinking of going there, but considering your comments, and the long trip, I will consider another destination, but always towards Indonesia.
    Thank you for all your travel stories, it's really great, the photos and the videos. In any case it served me well, thank you, thank you ....

    1. @Denise: Ah, Raja Ampat is by far the most extraordinary place I could discover during my diving life. I would like to go back there too, but I'll have to wait a little while, while I gather the necessary budget again. Glad to know you enjoyed it as much as I did!!!

      Part of the area is protected in Raja Ampat, which perhaps gives hope that the place will remain as beautiful as it is. But between the mining operations that are developing all around, the military yoke of the Indonesians on West Papua, the appetites of different nations for the resources of the area, and the anarchic development of tourism that threatens, we can fear to see the environment degrading too in a few years, alas...

      When I see what the Sangalaki and Maratua bottoms look like today, I can hardly imagine that it was as exuberant as in Raja Ampat...

      If you are visiting Indonesia, the Komodo archipelago is also fantastic. Otherwise, on the Malaysian side of Borneo, Sipadan is always worth a visit... I will talk about it soon.

  6. Thank you Corinne for this new article, I understand your disappointment (see your anger), thank you for denouncing these drifts! We must boycott these places and make it clear that nature pays more when we preserve it!
    Another 2 months and a few before our departure for Rajat Ampat ... We hone our fins and our photo equipment !!!

    1. @Yves: Unfortunately, I think that the guys who throw dynamite in the fleet or the Asian boats that fish manta rays don't care that some Western tourists want to boycott the Derawan archipelago...

      On the spot, the turtle protection program is at least working well. The problems of overfishing are much more complex. There are huge interests at stake, on a global scale, which go beyond the only horizon of this small Indonesian archipelago...

      Good preparations for Raja Ampat. You will see, it is really incredible.

  7. But how sad, Corinne... Besides the disappointment you must feel, I can imagine the anger at the damage caused by this kind of fishing. The worst thing is that these fishermen are acting against their own interest by plundering their own resource.
    Is there at least an embryo of a more responsible fishing program? Because the situation is going to get critical pretty quickly.

    1. @ Melissa: I doubt very much that local fishermen think as far ahead as you do, nor that the big Asian fishing companies care about being responsible...

      The local program for the protection of turtles is working well. But the area would have to be a protected natural park to hope to improve things a little in the Derawan archipelago.

      Our considerations of well-meaning Westerners and concerned about the environment are, I fear, quite naive and vain, on the scale of an archipelago as vast as Indonesia, turned towards several seas and oceans...

  8. Hello,
    Super blog!
    I'm surprised by what you say about the bottoms in the archipelago, we spent a week in Maratua this summer, and it is one of the most beautiful bottoms that we saw in Indonesia (and yet we saw some!). Maratua is really the dream (but very roots because no tourists), and we loved it! But it must be said that you have to go to the lagoon side for the best diving spots: the spots follow each other without interruption, coral gardens as I have never seen, and all the possible fish... without the manta rays unfortunately because they are less numerous...
    if you ever want to go see my blog ...

    1. @Pauline: A coral garden in a lagoon, often nice to discover while snorkeling, does not always reflect the reality of a reef outside, on the sea or ocean side.

      In Kakaban, some parts of the reef were beautiful, others much less so.
      At Sangalaki, there were coral spuds in the middle of the sand around the island, but not much life and no manta rays to pass by...
      And in Maratua, the little I saw of the reef disappointed me, indeed... But I did not dive or snorkel on the lagoon side. I'm glad to hear that you had a much better experience than me!

  9. Thank you for this beautiful article Corinne, from an archipelago where I was until 5 weeks ago.
    Having spoken with Yann (from Marseille) a few days before my departure I did not expect to see any Manta (this is however what decided my trip there in the first place). But I did not expect to be disappointed by Derawan. And yet... I fled to Maratua, where I spent 10 days of dream. I totally agree with you about the reef, nothing exceptional, except the many turtles at Turtle point. But this island conceals several treasures, namely the "quiet life" that you describe perfectly. The picture you took is the village of Payung-Payung, where tranquility, respect and mutual help are really the key words! And I weigh them, my words. For someone looking for authenticity and peace this village is perfect (we were two tourists in October on the island, Bahasa almost mandatory). Bohebukut too, Bohesilian less so, because of the proximity of the hotel. The second treasure is the many hidden caves (some very very hidden) in the middle of the forest. And it is really worth it. There is also a similar lake but much smaller than in Kakaban, with non-urticating jellyfish. Finally, as Pauline rightly said, if the island tempts some of the readers, it is now that you should go there, before the end of the construction of the small airport but especially of the numerous hotels that will be built.

    1. @Jeannot: oh, a thousand thanks for this little write-up!!! It's nice to have the account of other experiences. And I am delighted to have the name of the village (I had asked, but I forgot in the meantime). Finally, also a big thank you for the additional information about the diving (it confirms my impressions) and about the "tourist" aspect of the area...

      Yes, Derawan is not as peaceful as it used to be, better to take refuge elsewhere if you want to be really quiet and find a real "village" atmosphere. I love the precision : "bahasa quasi obligatory"...

  10. super your comment on derawan and sangalaki.but it has cooled me down me who had the project to prepare a trip in april 2014 for this destination here is that I am deeply disappointed!!! I just returned from my last trip to sumatra on the island of pulau weh, very beautiful deep diving and a lot of big fish.So for my future adventures I hesitate between komodo, irian jaya, sulawesi, ambon or sipadan.knowing that I'm looking for manta rays, sharks and beautiful coral.I've done a lot of diving in the philippines, thailand and bali.and I'd like to find an exeptional site where I don't feel like I'm arriving too late.if you can give me some advice I'd like to thank you in advance

    1. @Didier: Unfortunately, the Derawan-Kakaban-Sangalaki-Maratua archipelago is not what it used to be, I am afraid. The manta rays are not "guaranteed" at all in Sangalaki and the rest, I talked about in my different articles: there are beautiful dives in Kakaban, Derawan is worth it for the muck-dive and the turtles, as for Maratua I did not see anything exceptional...

      Like you, I have good memories of Pulau Weh. Sites a little "deep" but worth it.

      To see mantas and sharks, with poiscaille galore and sumptuous coral: Raja Ampat (in the province of West Papua, formerly called Irian Jaya by Indonesians) and Komodo. Check the seasons, maybe, for mantas-rays ...
      I've seen plenty of them:
      - in March in Raja Ampat -> https://petitesbullesdailleurs.fr/manta-raja-ampat-papua-video-20120422/
      - in July in Komodo -> https://petitesbullesdailleurs.fr/raies-mantas-komodo-indonesie-video-20120205/

      I consider Sipadan to be an exceptional spot as well (see my recent articles about my stay in July 2013), it looks like there is a shark and turtle factory in the area, but there are no mantas.

      As an indication, my little top 3 perso, in the Asia / Indo-Pacific region:
      1 - Raja Ampat
      2 - Komodo
      3 - Sipadan

      After that, it depends on your budget, time available, etc. etc. If you can afford to break your piggy bank, I warmly recommend Raja Ampat, I came back dazzled. See my two trips there :
      March 2012 -> http://petitesbullesdailleurs.fr/voyage-raja-ampat-bali-indonesie-2012/
      July 2012 -> http://petitesbullesdailleurs.fr/voyage-alor-raja-ampat-indonesie-2012/

      Good preparations!

  11. Hello Corinne
    My partner and I ran into your blog just before leaving for the Derawan Islands in late November, for a trip organized by friends of ours and already paid for a long time .... So no more question of going back!
    But after reading your blog we left all sad, regretting already our trip ....
    The results are mixed. On the island of Derawan itself, only one interesting dive (the others are dynamited), that of the jetty, which we did several times, a small sloping drop-off with few beetles to see, a typical Indonesian dive. From Derawan we dived in Panjang, muck dive type, less rich than Lembeh, but we had the opportunity to see the "Lembeh Sea Dragon", which was one of our objectives: yippee!! 😀
    On the other hand, the pygmy satomi seahorse which was also one of our objectives has not been found, what a shame...
    Then we spent 8 days in Maratua, visiting the surrounding islands. Sangalaki, no mantas, the guides confirmed us that it was extremely rare to see some, and that when it was the case, it was max 10 individuals, whereas it was hundreds of them a few years ago ....
    In Kakaban, except for the jellyfish lake which is nice to do once, we were a little disappointed. On the point we saw sharks, some barracudas and an eagle ray, but from far, so nothing exceptional. The 2 drop-offs next to it were nice but rather deserted that day.
    And finally Maratua: I think we were luckier than you, we may have done more dives there too, but most of the reefs were in good condition, especially around the Maratua Paradise Resort where we were based. Turtles everywhere, on every dive, even in the Maldives we had not seen so many. This island is recommended for turtle fans. Another good surprise: many hump-backed parrots, sometimes in schools of 20 individuals, we had never seen so many. Apart from that, the drop-offs were still sad and empty, with sometimes a few barracudas or a tasard. And it is even sadder to see a beautiful drop-off not damaged, with magnificent gorgonians, but nothing in the blueu_COPY snif... 😳
    Overfishing is visible as soon as you put your head under water in the Derawan Islands. Note that on the thirty dives we did there, we heard at least 8 times explosions underwater: the desertification of the bottom will only get worse in the coming years... 😡
    Otherwise, the very, very good surprise we had was the dive in the channel, The Channel: quite a few grey sharks, a mobula, a nice school of platax, a huge grouper that was there at each dive and..... a ban of THOUSANDS of black-striped barracudas !!!! ❗
    This one dive did not make us regret to have come. It is very impressive, there were m3 of barracudas on 15 m high, 10 m wide. A very intense moment.
    But they're not there all the time, so they're not guaranteed 😉.
    Here is for our CR, we summarize we do not regret but we will not return there. We prefer by far Bali, Raja Ampat or Lembeh. We don't know Komodo yet but it will be soon 😉

    In any case, thank you Corinne for your blog, and don't hesitate to continue to regale us with your stories!

    1. @Delphine: Thank you for this great report, which completes my impressions. So there is a possibility to make more interesting dives than the ones I could make in the Maratua channel, it's a good news. As for the rest, I see that it goes in the same direction as what I saw, unfortunately... I also heard several times explosions under water. As for the mantas, they are gone and meeting them is becoming a rare event. It's really a pity.

  12. Hi Corinne,

    I'm really sorry to read your CR about the Derawan archipelago... 🙁
    In 2010 we were dazzled by the Kakaban and Maratua dives as well as by the mantas we had seen on every dive in Sangalaki !!!

    I was hoping to go back one day with my kids to show them these wonders ... it's really really sad ... 😥

    Hoping that there will still be some exceptional sites in ESA in a decade or so ...

    Good bubbles in 2014!

    1. @ costarico32: Yes, I was happy to go back to this area, as I liked it so much the first time... Now, I must admit that it hurts my heart to see that things have deteriorated so quickly. It is obviously still possible to do some nice dives in Maratua (see the comments of other travelers above) and the jellyfish lake of Kakaban is still a very special place, but mantas have become rare around Sangalaki, whereas they were always there, almost for sure, a few years ago... It is very sad.

  13. Snorkeling around twenty manta rays at Sangalaki this August, a chance! Sharks and thousands of barracudas for the divers. However, according to tourists who went there a few years ago, there were far fewer jellyfish in the lake. And here, it is surely us tourists who are at fault...
    Nice blog, thank you.
    Jean Yves

  14. It is with a lot of delay that I come back to put a comment on this discussion.In April 2014 I went on a 12 days diving safari on KOMODO with SafariBali.it was simply sublime. For the manta rays it was well above my expectations. Mantas and modulas galore. White tip sharks, big napoleon, huge humpback parrotfish, macro...in short about thirty dream dives.and I followed it up with 4 wonderful dives in KOH LANTA, THAILAND including a special day of manta rays on the sites of HIN MUANG and HIN DAENG, it was really worth the trip.

  15. we will be there this summer, staying at Derawana Dive Lodge
    I hope that life will have resumed its rights!
    and then we go on with Lembeh

    nice blog, bravo!

    1. so then 4 years later:
      no more manta ray on Sangalaki, but the ballad on the coral potatoes is nice
      on the other hand an impressive bench of barracuda on Maratua, and then here and there: hump parrot, napoleon, turtle and ... manta (1 only flying over the barracudas)
      Jellyfish on Kakaban are still there
      fishing with dynamite is a reality : we felt a detonation during a dive
      so yes: it's very (very) far and not exceptional; nevertheless, it's great to be alone in the water!

  16. august 2022, cruise aboard the ambai. i just came back from derawan, sangalaki and maratua with the same feeling of sadness. Everything you describe is just...worse. The coral is dead, the manta rays have fled as well as the sharks. dynamite fishing continues to grow (5 explosions heard and felt underwater), plastic everywhere, pollution maintained by all and, a great first that I could have done without, whale shark feeding organized by the fishing barges .... what an environmental misery. What a pity, what a waste.... such a beautiful place, such endearing people, spots that were in their time a real paradise....