Ahoy Divers! Anambas is Back On the Menu (quite literally).
With the North-East monsoon coming to a close, MV Nautica headed out into the South China Sea to resume diving at the Anambas Islands. As we sailed out of Singapore and headed further from the mainland, we were delighted to once again come in contact with the sapphire blue waters. Everyone on board was excited, and I’m sure everyone would have jumped into the water right away if possible.
Once on board, we’re greeted by the ever-friendly faces of the boat crew. Shortly after, the feasting starts. We were served the first of our many sumptuous meals on board. New divers meeting for the first time, old friends chatting about past adventures. It was indeed a cacophony of life under the brilliant night sky as we sailed towards our destination.
As the sun rises over the horizon the next morning, we could vaguely see our destination- Malang Biru. Finally its time to step into the water. 3, 2, 1- giant stride. After an entire season of diving in mucky water with strong currents and bad visibility, this was the other end of the spectrum. It was like diving in an aquarium. The variety of corals and creatures you see was out of this world, our eyes dart from left to right, and back to left, its hard to focus on just that one thing. Just looking at he field of corals alone is enough to make you gasp in awe. The best part? All dives on the first day was pretty much like that.
All but the third dive, when we went back to Malang Biru, and got the shock of our lives. As we swam around, we saw dead fishes everywhere- parrotfishes, goatfishes, fusiliers, snappers- you name it. Divers were puzzled at this sight, how can this beautiful patch we saw earlier this morning, look like that in just a couple of hours? As we did our safety stop, we looked down, and saw the extent of this problem. Entire patches of silver, it transformed from a coral garden to a fish cemetery.
On the surface, we saw the reason for this. Fishermen boats hanging out close by. Yes, they were doing dynamite fishing. For those who’re unfamiliar with this practice, dynamite fishing (or blast fishing) is the use of explosives to stun schools of fishes, and destroying the ecosystem at the same time. It is extremely unsustainable and extremely disruptive. This explains the loud ‘pop’ we heard on the second dive, despite being miles away from Maland Biru. It is indeed, a stain on our otherwise beautiful painting of a journey to the Anambas Islands. The worst part? We can’t stop them from doing this without giving them a solution to their livelihoods. We need to educate these fishermen in hopes that they will love the oceans as much as we do. All divers went to bed with a heavy heart that evening as MV Nautica sailed towards home.
The next morning, on the way back, we had the luxury to stop by the famous Igara wreck for a dive. The Igara was an Italian ore/oil steamship which sank in 1973 due to a strike on an unchartered rock. It has, in recent years, become a popular diving spot for wreck divers. Only half the ship is intact, but that is more than enough for us to explore. Infamous because of the strong currents in the area, we were extremely lucky to be able to avoid that completely, allowing us to explore the magnificent wreck with ease. Filefishes, tons of moray eels, batfishes, nudibranch were all over the place.
After that, it was time to head back to Singapore. The strumming of a ukulele, the voices of divers singing to the weekend and new forged friendships- the Anambas Island definitely left its mark on our minds.