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Uber Scuba Komodo Dive Center, Labuan Bajo


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Mating Manta Rays in Komodo National Park

Manta Mating Magic. One Mother’s Story

The boys that fly through the Komodo waters like it a little rough.

Nevertheless, after a racy chase and a bit of foreplay. I always end up on top.

Now don’t go judging me. I’m not easy, and I’m certainly no submarine slut.

 

The men make their move under my tummy. The act itself doesn’t last long, and every encounter inevitably turns out to be a one night stand.

I’m actually quite picky, and it is the boys that are beating down the door to my bedroom. But I’m hard-wired the same way as they are. We get the job done, and we swim our separate ways. No strings attached, no nursery niceties, no planned parenting. Thank you and good night.

It’s all part of the magical manta mating game.

I’m packing a mini manta in my belly right now, as a matter of fact.

Mind you that doesn’t stop the boys following me around.

We mate year round, so love is always in the air. Or the water, as is our case. If you are lucky enough to have been diving some of the spectacular sites out here in the Komodo Marine Park, you may have seen a manta train.

 

All Aboard the Manta Train

A manta train you ask? Yup. It’s pretty much as it sounds.

The one out in front is the female (that’s me). You could say, in the sexual manta marine world we ladies “drive” the trains. The long line of suitors following the females form the “cars” of the train.

Round and round the reef we go.

There could be 10, there may be 20. I lead them on quite a merry chase. My reward? Usually I end up with several bites on my wings, as the boys fail to contain their excitement. It nice to be the object of such desire. But I mean really, the love bites and resulting scars are a bit much.

Eventually, one of the boys proves to be the best, and he’s the one I want. He’ll sidle up next to me, sink his teeth into my left wing, and slide underneath me. I know as soon as we stop swimming we’ll sink like a rock to the ocean floor (as we are negatively buoyant). So I try to get as close to the surface as possible before the actual penetration occurs.

 

Moving on is the Manta Way

Belly to belly we roll in the water.

Me quite still, while my beau beats his wings like a bat out of hell. Copulation complete, he releases me, and we swim our separate ways.

My wee one grows inside me first as an egg in my uterus. As the birthing day approaches, my pup hatches on the inside, and feeds on my uterine milk. When I think she is ready to roll on her own, I’ll head to a shallow bay or lagoon. Often I will perform a series of spectacular jumps out of the water, that may help trigger the birth. As soon as my mini manta makes her way into the water, she knows how to swim. And she must learn on her own how to survive.

My job is done, and I am out the door. Back to the open seas where the boys, and the breeding ritual await repeat. The wee ones stay in the shallows where they have a much better chance of survival.

 

Manta Moms. You Can’t Live with Them, so You Learn to Live Without Them

I’ve heard that human females and their offspring often suffer from emotional issues.

It has never been a problem for us mantas. Mother/daughter dynamics, protective son syndrome? Nope. We’re an independent lot.

Remember what I told you, that every night is a one night stand? It is the many millions of years of evolution on mother earth that has made us mantas who we are. It may seem strange to you, but it works just fine for us. And we’ve been swimming the seas a lot longer than you bipeds have been walking the woods…

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Boom! Why Dynamite Fishing Might Blow Us All Away…

It’s nothing new really. And some fishermen argue that it is an effective method of catching the maximum number of fish, with the minimal amount of effort. It’s DIY bomb building that usually involves improvised underwater explosive devices made at home.

 

If commercial dynamite is unavailable, or doesn’t fit the budget, a glass bottle packed with potassium or ammonium nitrate, pebbles, and a splash of kerosene, will do the trick.

 

Sometimes cyanide is added to the recipe. Apparently, the fish that are caught with cyanide are not intended for the fisherman’s own dinner plate. Obviously, cyanide that enter the fish, could easily be transferred to the humans sitting down to a seafood supper. Or maybe the local fishing families don’t understand the dangers of cyanide. Or the dangers associated with dynamite fishing.

 

Perhaps the families that fish this way don’t care. Perhaps they cannot afford to. It is unlikely that any parent would deliberately compromise their families health, and the future of their children. Nevertheless, dynamite fishing endangers not only the coral reefs and the myriad of magnificent creatures that they support, but also the fishing communities ability to provide for themselves.

 

The beginning is always a good place to start. We’ll assume that the local engaged in dynamite fishing doesn’t blow himself up in the process of building the underwater bomb. Which does happen. Low income fishermen with limited education don’t make the best bomb builders. So they may lose a hand, arm or child while attempting to put together an underwater explosive.

 

Most of the time, the bomb building is relatively uneventful, and the bomb goes out on the boat. Tragically, dynamite fishing has been practised in Indonesia, and throughout Southeast Asia for over 50 years.

 

So let’s imagine an Indonesian fisherman heading out to the reef, looking for a good spot to drop his bomb and scoop up the stunned and injured fish that will float to the surface. Once an appropriate location has been decided upon, the fisherman lobs the bomb overboard, and waits for the shock blast. This stuns the fish, and ruptures their swim bladders and other internal organs.

 

Many float to the surface. Voila! Could catching fish get any easier?

 

Another question. Could it get any more destructive?

 

Some fish float to the surface, and are an effortless catch. Many, many more sink to the bottom to rot. And it’s not just the fish that are stricken down. Virtually every marine organism in the vicinity will be seriously harmed or killed. Equally tragic is the damage that is done to the coral reefs.

 

What the fishing families do not see, and may not understand, is that while in the short term dynamite fishing seems to work well, it is actually undermining their traditional way of life. It is also seriously compromising the ability of the coral reefs and the ocean to provide any source of food or income for them in the future.

 

Perhaps today the fish float to the surface. Underwater the environment that enables the fish to live and breed is being destroyed. The reefs are crushed and turned to rubble. Without the reefs there are no fish. No fish means no food. Divers and sun seekers do not travel thousands of miles to see rubble. No tourists means less or no income, and ultimately, no future.

 

In the short term, fish populations are reduced, driving the boats to bomb other areas. In the long term, hundreds of miles of coral reefs become skeletons. Where once a diverse and productive marine ecosystem thrived, now a grey and barren graveyard lies. The coral’s calcium carbonate structures are dead, an incapable of regeneration. Thousands of years of mother nature’s underwater work, the building blocks of an ecosystem, destroyed.

 

Komodo National Park is a protected marine reserve, and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nevertheless there is fresh and indisputable evidence that dynamite fishing practices continue here. Some of Asia’s most spectacular dive sites have been irreparably damaged. If they can recover, it will not be during our life time, nor that of our children.

 

The Indonesian government has assumed complete responsibility for the protection of the Komodo National Marine Park. In the past, they had a co-operative agreement with the Conservation International group to monitor and implement measures critical to conserving the coral reefs in the area.

 

There is clearly a need to look into a better coordinated response to the dangers of dynamite fishing. Local communities should be protecting their reefs, not destroying them. The situation sadly seems to be getting worse in many areas, not better.

Strong current komodo

7 Reasons Why Diving in Komodo is EXTREMELY Dangerous!

Have you ever thought about traveling to a primitive land, to live off the earth, to sleep under a canopy of stars, to dance in an underwater ballet with a tribe of manta rays?

We love the Komodo National Park for its abundant marine life and challenging dive sites. Here is our satirical slant on the dangers posed when diving in Komodo…

Situated 20 km to the west of Flores, accessed via a sleepy port town named Labuan Bajo, is the Komodo National Park. Home to the largest living lizard – the Komodo Dragon – carnivorous beasts that can grow up to 3 meters in length, who govern the ecosystem around them. The surrounding ocean is home to a variety of aquatic life, from dolphins to dugongs, manta rays to mandarin fish.

With rapid tourism growth underway, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is quickly becoming a hot spot both above and below the water, with scuba divers flocking from all corners of the globe to dive komodo in order witness a phenomenal glimpse into the aquatic world.

The surrounding atolls, all 26 of them, are barren, where virgin white and pink sand beaches lay undisturbed. Eagles roam the skies and herds of goats, precariously balance on a mountain edge, taking cover from the hungry free-roaming dragons.

According to PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, there are around 1.2 million divers worldwide, with an average age of 29 years old. Dive travel will experience massive growth in 2015 and beyond. Perhaps you are planning a dive vacation this year and are perplexed by the endless options available to you – the ocean is, after all, 71% of the world’s surface.

Listed below are the reasons why, you should explore the waters of Komodo in your next diving vacation:

  1. The extremely clear underwater visibility can cause you to lose track of the depth you are diving.
  2. Lavishly multi coloured coral reefs that stretch as far as the eye can see may cause severe disorientation.
  3. An abundance of exotic and rare aquatic creatures force you to strain your eyes to get a closer look.
  4. Numerous manta rays, dugongs, and whalesharks may cause you to drop your jaw thus posing a threat to drowning.
  5. The underwater heritage is so vivid, the multitude of colours may cause a hallucinogenic effect potentially effecting your buoyancy.
  6. Indonesian boat crews are so helpful and friendly you are reduced to a spoilt amateur, twiddling your thumbs.
  7. Reasons 1 – 6 force you to overstay your visit to Indonesia, causing flight delays and awkward conversations with your bank manager.

PADI vs SSI – Dispelling the Myths

Today I would like to address the most common questions dive center’s and diving instructors are asked when a student is enquiring about entry level diving…PADI vs SSI.

If we had a dollar for the amount of times in conversation the phrase ‘I want to get my padi’ or ‘I did my padi with X or Y dive shop,’ I swear we would be able to feed ourselves Nasi Goreng until the end of time 😉

Today I want to dispel the myths, separate fact from fiction, enabling you to make an informed decision about your diving education choices.

Before I begin can I explain that Uber Scuba Komodo offers training with both organisations and all of our instructors are certified as both SSI and PADI Diving Instructors. Wait. What? How can you be PADI AND SSI trained? Read on…

Lets start with the mothership –

The WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council) is the governing body of diver training dedicated to diver safety, under whom all of the skill and knowledge requirements are written. A minimum training standard is applied to all organisations that wish to obtain membership to ensure worldwide quality education. Guess who sits on the member council? Those you know PADI, SSI…but also IDEA, PDIC, SDI, ACUC and many more…

Suddenly we have racing questions

‘Who to choose?’

‘Which is the safest?’

‘Can they be safe if I’ve never before heard of them?’

This brings us now to a kind of Coca Cola vs Pepsi debate – the Cola Wars – stay with me, it’s all relevant!

Coca Cola – prominent branding, red and white colours, huge corporate with billions of dollars in marketing budget.
Pepsi – the outsider, branded clearly, blue, red and white in colours, another huge corporation with millions of dollars in promotional budget.

What’s your favourite? Which are you most familiar with? Do you think there is any less quality in product between the two?

Let’s really drill this down. What really effects market share in our mass consumer world?

VISIBILITY

Perhaps you have a friend who has completed their PADI Open Water Diver training and another who completed theirs with SSI. Both loved it and are keen to dive again. They have invited you along to dive Komodo with them, yet you are not certified.

You have read about a number of dive shops online that you would like to enquire with about your training and have been offered a selection between PADI and SSI. You can’t wait to complete your open water course in komodo, yet you are confused…you ask yourself:

‘Can we all dive together if we have different certified via different agencies, and who should I choose – PADI or SSI?’

I’d like to explain the reasons why at Uber Scuba we prefer to teach SSI courses.

Firstly, this is NOT about price. We actually charge a premium for PADI courses, equivalent to the price difference between the two certification agencies – this money goes towards certification costs and not in our pocket. It’s roughly $60 different which is a large amount.

You may be asking, where does that money go? Why, if SSI and PADI are both members of the WRSTC, operating by the same rules, and certifying roughly the same number of students each year in Indonesia.

THE STRAIGHT ANSWER IS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COSTS!

The even straighter answer is marketing. The team at PADI do a frankly fantastic job at promoting their brand. Those PADI posters you’ve seen, that dive show you attended, those magazine spreads you’ve read. These all stick in your head, just like Coca Cola does rather than Pepsi (remember our comparison earlier?)

SSI on the other hand, have a much smaller marketing budget. A budget that they gain from smaller dive agency fee’s, smaller certification cost fee’s and smaller staff budgets (I guess they don’t have a big fancy marketing team working from a new shiny office).

So just because you are aware of one more so than the other, is it fair to say that they offer a different service? A service that is less safe, that has less quality? Less educational value?

OF COURSE NOT!

We prefer to teach SSI because of these reasons:

Student Focused Learning:

SSI Instructors can modify 20% of their teaching methods to suit the students pace of learning but PADI run their courses in a set order.

Why is this relevant to you as a student…?

What if you are having problem mastering a skill with PADI who say that SKILL A must be followed by SKILL B and so on. As you continue to struggle, your confidence withers, and the enjoyability factor begins to lessen.

With SSI’s proven standards, your instructor can move on and come back to that particular struggle area at a later time, ensuring you feel more comfortable, less stressed – ultimately more safe and in control in the water at any given time.

It’s no secret there are currents and changing tides in Komodo, so our personal preference is to remove rigidity and focus on the student.

No Bulky Books:

You do not have to purchase a SSI manual/e-book, you can borrow one of ours! It is not a standard to purchase one (unlike PADI), and we will not make you pay for the privilege of explaining at the airport check in why you are overweight in baggage.

Instant Certification Card:

Our SSI affiliation means we can print your certification card on site, allowing you to move to your next location, card in hand and ready to dive. You can dive anywhere in the world, even if the next dive center you choose is only offering PADI diving.

The benefits of chosing PADI over SSI?

Well…errr. We don’t actually have an answer for that – sorry!

Let me check if I mentioned everything?

Both are governed by the WRSTC – so PADI & SSI have the same quality of training and safety – check!

Both offer the same format – videos, theory, knowledge reviews, confined water training, open water training, exam – check!

Both have been around for over 40 years – professional and have longevity – Oops I missed that, well, here you have it!

DID YOU KNOW?

You can even move between certification agencies, do your Open Water with SSI and then switch to PADI for your Advanced course, zig zagging all the way up to professional Instructor level.

Conclusion:

Which is better PADI or SSI?

Well, honestly when it boils down to it, it’s your decision. There’s no difference in training quality, world wide recognition or experience level. 

We recommend you make your choice based on the trainer rather than the agency. Pick the dive center you feel most comfortable with, the one who you have connected most with. The one that is the most informative, the one that doesn’t ‘bash’ the competition based on a negative, mostly uninformed, fictional view of the opposing certification agency.

To reiterate, all of the Uber Scuba Komodo instructors are dual rated meaning we can teach both PADI and SSI courses, we just have our preference to SSI based mainly on the flexibility allowed in the changing waters of Komodo.

 

Similarities 

Internationally Recognised – Dive anywhere in the world

Interchangeable – you can get certified as an Open Water Diver with SSI, then Advanced Diver with PADI

Safety – Science, Skills and Techniques the same

Insurance – have valid insurance? You will be covered.

 

Differences

Water Flexibility –

SSI: Yes. Taught with an 80/20 approach. The instructor can adapt 20% of the course to fit the pace of learning, ensuring a student focused training programme.

PADI: None. Skills performed in rigid sequence with no manoeuvre room for changing water conditions, student learning pace. If you do change, you break standards.

 

In House Theory –

SSI: Loaned Books supplied in our dive center, yours to borrow for the course

PADI: You must purchase a manual – adding cost and baggage weight

 

Certification ID –

SSI: Printed immediately on site

PADI: Sent to your home, 90 day temporary card issued.

 

e-Learning –

SSI: Yes and it’s free!

PADI: Yes but priced at $130