Wakatobi Marine Reserve

We are at this moment anchored at the entrance of an atoll (all submerged, no motus) in a group of islands known as Wakatobi and also Tukangbesi, a newly designated marine reserve off the SE tip of Sulawesi. We arrived a few hours ago and plan to stay in this area for about a week, exploring, diving and relaxing. The trick will be to locate the good dive sites, since there is no precise information available.

In the last three weeks we have traveled 1500 miles (not far, but at an average speed of 7 knots, it is time-consuming!), and have had six nights at sea. Luckily the weather has been good. No rain, sometimes enough wind to actually sail (so soothing!), and only a few areas of bumpy seas. We are continuing on the fast track and will be scooting through this area quickly. Then on to the stretch of islands known as Nusa Tengarra - Flores, Rinca, Komodo, Sumbawa and Lombok. We plan to reach Bali by September 15, as Dylan is going to take a trip to the US and South Africa. Jim and Vicki will stay in Bali until he returns, doing some inland touring.

We had very little information about this area, but luckily we dropped our anchor in the perfect spot. There is a research center on Hoga island called Operation Wallacea, which is gathering data on the local marine life in an effort to encourage and promote conservation. Students from all over the world come her for six-week sessions, doing several dives each day and writing their research papers. Jim and Dylan did some fantastic diving and found the reefs to be of equal or better quality in many places here then there diving in Papua New Guinea. This was a wonderful surprise as we had been informed by so many of the fish bombing techniques in place, that was causing the devastation of so much of the reef. It is evident however that the lack of sharks in these waters is directly linked to shark fishing techniques and poaching of sharks for shark fin soup in Asian countries. Sadly the practice of shark harvesting is rearing its ugly head in Papua New guinea too. When will it stop?