Our night dive on Day Four was indubitably the best night dive of the whole trip. It was at an unnamed site off Alor Island, a stone's throw from a fishing village. During the briefing, I suggested naming the site "Kapal Selam", and Weka the Divemaster said, "Let's see, if it's good we can call it Kapal Selam". Guess what! Now it is called Kapal Selam! It was a shallow site, with a gentle slope down to about 20m where it suddenly dropped into a steep wall. We stayed in the shallows, and found many night creatures.
Notes from Mia: I suspect the guides keep this site nameless to keep the divers entertained – when we heard that the site’s not named yet, we immediately claimed it to be a Kapal Selam site. The guide just smiled benignly and nodded his assent. I wonder how many times he’s gone over the “ritual” with other groups during his diving career…
Five minutes into the dive, Lala spotted a ghost pipefish so small and well-camouflaged I was surprised she saw it at all. Just as everyone was looking at the pipefish, I looked down to the sandy bottom and a quick dart of a funny-shaped thing caught my eye. In seconds, it had buried itself so deep in the sand, I wouldn't have noticed it if bit me in the bum. Only two vague, sand-covered eyes peered out. I fanned the sand a little, and an odd-shaped body of a fish appeared. A Stargazer! It was so ugly only its mother could love it, but I was so thrilled that I finally saw this elusive creature. Just as I was looking at it, another Stargazer swam underneath me and buried itself nearby. What are the odds of seeing TWO of these funny fish at once?
We also saw tiny baby cuttlefish and squid floating around. One baby squid was so close I just had to touch it - it inked and darted off.
A multitude of gargantuan nudibranchs and flatworms kept us amused for a long time. So did the many types of moray eels and sea snakes - although the latter more repulsed than excited me.
We surfaced shouting in joy - it was an experience we won't soon forget. The first (fabulous) dive site named after out club! That night, we actually had a reason to crack open the bottles of booze!
On the day five of our trip, our next dive more than made up for the "average" sites earlier that day. Even now, I'm still in awe of our dusk dive that day, at Kapal Selam Right, off Alor Island - the same site we did our night dive the previous evening. This time, we headed in the opposite direction.
It was still light when we descended, even though it started to dim not long after. I was happily looking into crevices, fiddling with my torch, when suddenly a spastic-looking Rizal flashed his torch at me. I swam over, and he pointed into a small cave. I was expecting a lobster or some cave-dwelling creature, but I was definitely not prepared for the delightful suprise waiting for me within the cave.
At first I couldn't see anything, and I waited with my torch off. After a few minutes, I switched it on and voila! A flash of green specked with rainbow colors caught my eye. A mandarinfish!!!! The elusive creature I so longed to see was there, darting around in its little home. I desperately tried to snap a few shots of it, but the cave is too deep and too dark for my camera to focus.
After a while, the fish just refused to come out again. I frustratedly turned to leave, and saw a bunch of divers surrounding a patch of staghorn coral just nearby. I swam closer, and suddenly I saw a flash of the brilliantly colored fish again! I was overjoyed. There were three photographers trying to take a picture of the same fish at the same time, and this time I managed to get a pretty good shot of the shy fish. Woohoo!
We found about 4 more pairs of mandarinfish, surely a record for one small site! We climbed up the boat's ladder with a loud victory whoop! What a dive, what a site!
After dinner, we geared up for our fifth dive that day, also at Kapal Selam site. We just couldn't get enough of it! This time, my buddy Mia opted out, so I dived with Rizal whose buddy also decided to pass.
We saw a lot of cool critters: nudibranchs big and small, teeny weeny cuttlefish, decorator crabs, a full-grown ugly catfish, a massive mappa pufferfish. It was a nice dive. We surfaced after 51 minutes, to a dark, eerily silent surface. We couldn't see the boat and didn't know which one of the lights was out boat's. Usually it was quite noticeable even in the dark. Rizal and I looked at each other, both perplexed. We flashed our torches everywhere, Rizal blew his whistle, but nothing. Silence. About 10 minutes later, we heard the faint sound of motor. As it got closer, we were elated to see our dinghy speeding closer.
The dinghy man explained that the skipper had turn off the big lights on the main boat, because the locals have complained about the divers being noisy the night before. They also complained that our previous night's dive had scared the fish, resulting in a small catch in their fish traps. Uh-oh.
Thankfully, the evening passed without further incidents. We had a quiet drink & chat that evening, careful not to stir the locals from their sleep. It was our last night in Alor islands, and we would like to leave in peace.