Riding the Komodo Currents
28 July 2017
As mariners navigate ocean and river currents for ease of passage, currents are similarly used in underwater exploration. A great example is the underwater world of Komodo National Park in Indonesia’s Coral Triangle. Here we find an impressive range of fish species and coral reefs in habitats ranging from small protected bays to open water pinnacles where tidal currents drive a jaw-dropping display of pelagic fish life. Without currents the Komodo Islands would be a very different place. Influenced by the oceanic processes of Komodo's Linta Strait, tidal currents are largely responsible for the exceptional abundance of marine life in this internationally recognised marine park.
The Linta Strait, a deep channel between Komodo and Rinca Islands, plays a vital role in driving these processes. The strait is a bottle-necking gateway joining the Indian Ocean in the south to the Flores Sea in the north. This thoroughfare is part of the Indonesian Through-Flow, a main driver of fish species and coral diversity in the Komodo National Park. Lunar cycles influence the speed of the current in the Linta Strait depending on the position of the moon, while tides and currents are influenced by underwater topography. Incoming tides generally produce currents travelling from the Indian Ocean in the south to the Flores Sea in the north. Outgoing tides produce currents flowing in the opposite direction. These currents transport phytoplankton-rich waters upwelled from the depths of the Indian Ocean and nutrient rich waters from seas and rivers in the distant north. Therefore a knowledge of daily tide times and moon phases will determine where the best diving will be. On a Liveaboard, this is where the local knowledge of the Cruise Director and Dive Guides will play an important role in determining the sites with the best dive conditions at each part of the day.
Before you leave on your diving adventure:
a) Try to gain a basic theoretical understanding of tidal currents and lunar cycles. Once on the boat your skills will progress smoothly through your daily dives but it is comforting to understand these processes. You can visit some great informative online sites such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA # Tides and Currents)
b) Bring along some good buoyancy skills to minimise harming or damaging Komodo’s unique marine life and corals. Minimise harming, maximise harmonising!
c) Try and find the time to practise deploying a Scuba Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) from 5 meters depth before your trip. Because all divers require an SMB in the Komodo Islands, it would help to know how to use it!
d) When you finally find yourself relaxing on the Liveaboard remember that even the most experienced of us have reasons not to dive. If you feel you want to skip a dive please do so. It is quite normal to miss dives for a variety of reasons and no explanations are necessary or expected. You will have many opportunities to make up for that lost dive, just look at some of our recent images below of the beautiful underwater world of the Komodo Islands!
A fun, safe and rewarding diving adventure can therefore be enhanced considerably with some prior knowledge of tidal and lunar cycles, a simple self-assessment of your diving capabilities and some experienced local dive guides. Remember that diving in currents can be great fun and one of the reasons divers return to the Komodo Islands year after year. Following these simple steps will increase your enjoyment factor dramatically and make your experience in the Komodo Islands priceless!