red emperor snapper in Komodo National Park

 

Komodo National Park is great for snorkeling

Shallow reefs

Each time we do our Komodo National Park snorkeling tour it keeps getting better. I didn’t think we’d be able to top the last one, but we did! From dragons and dugongs to amazing critters like leaf scorpionfish and juvenile sweetlips, we seemed to get it all on our 12-day journey that began in Maumere, Flores and ended in Bali.

As part of the Coral Triangle, Komodo National Park is blessed with some of the healthiest, diverse, and seemingly endless reefs in the world. Along with vast stretches of shallow coral gardens each island possessed a variety of other habitats including sea grass beds, mangroves, protected lagoons, black sand, and seaward reefs. All, of course, set the stage for some amazing snorkeling opportunities.

Dugong (Dugong dugon) swimming on a reef in Komodo National Park

A large dugong…

Though the tour started off with a bit of wind, we were still able to visit our best spots in and around the park. Furthermore, we are always excited to discover new reefs and the weather for the first couple of days challenged us to do just that. Some of these new spots we found will definitely make the itinerary for our 2018 program!

We had several memorable snorkel sessions and some really amazing encounters with a large dugong, mantas, mobulas, and spotted eagle rays. Most guests agreed that the stars of the snorkel sessions, however, were definitely the number of scorpionfishes and their cousins that we saw. Tasseled (or Poss’s, or Papuan) scorpionfishes and crocodilefishes, many that were quite colorful, seemed to appear on every large coral bommie. Five species of lionfishes, a reef stonefish, and a spiny devil scorpionfish all made the species list during this trip, but the prize-winners were the yellow and white leaf scorpionfishes that sat just inches from each other. Again, keep in mind that we saw most of these fishes in just a couple meters of water!

Leaf scorpionfish in Komodo National Park

Leaf scorpionfish

Pulling our attention away from scorpionfishes, we spent lots of time marveling at colorful nudibranchs (we had over a dozen species tallied on this trip), a variety of juvenile sweetlips (many-spotted, oriental, ribbon, and striped), and the myriad of dazzling reef fishes that crowded along shallow reef margins. Of course, we set aside one afternoon and traded our fins for shoes to trek into the national park for up-close encounters with the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon.

Our snorkeling tour in Komodo is easily one of our most exciting and rewarding trips. Trip after trip, the park just keeps on delivering. It is no surprise that we look forward to this tour in 2018, and have scheduled two departures in 2019!
 
 

Manta alfredi in Komodo National Park

A manta ray…

A juvenile sweetlips swimming in Komodo National Park

Juvenile sweetlips

Hypsolodois tryoni in Komodo National Park

Tryon’s hyplesodoris

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