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March 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 35, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Sorido Bay Dive Resort, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

luxury in the heart of a fabled dive region

from the March, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

The last thing I would expect in such pristine waters as those of Raja Ampat was to learn of a manta entangled in a fishing net, but a researcher at the resort, Dr. Phil Dustan, came back from his morning dives with photos of an encumbered manta. At Phil's urging, we turned our afternoon dive into a rescue mission, hoping to free the manta from its potential death trap and returned to where Phil saw it, hoping that after a few hours, it might still be around. At Manta Slope, we spotted two mantas circling around a large coral head, but nowhere could we spot the victim. I wondered how difficult it would be to get close to a manta in the tough currents, and if we did, would it sense our purpose and cooperate? I would never know, as we ended the dive disappointed we could not carry out a rescue, but deeply appreciative of the opportunity to dive this remarkable area.

The long jetty at Sorido Bay, KriIndeed, these are remarkable waters and surely a manta haven. On our last day of diving, three Swiss divers and I set out on a day-long excursion around Gam Island through a beautiful passage filled with Karst formations jutting from the sea. En route to Manta Ridge, we were swept along by a strong current until we found a place to hook off. Shortly, one, then two, then three mantas appeared overhead. More joined and my Tokina 10-17 captured eight of these huge animals in one image as they slowly swam circles around us in the plankton-filled waters.

It took me almost three days in December, with overnights in LA and Jakarta, to reach eastern Indonesia and Sorido Bay. After landing in Sorong at 6:30 a.m., it was a 90-minute boat ride to Kri Island. The dozen black-tipped reef sharks swimming with parrotfish and trevallies in the aquamarine shallows surrounding the jetty told me that, no, I wasn't in Kansas anymore. The two Swiss couples on the boat and my spouse and I walked up to the open-air dining area, where we sipped fruit drinks while listening to an overview of the resort by the general manager, Christopher Harvey. Originally from South Africa, but has been in Indonesia for many years, including a stint managing the dive resort Wakatobi, the lean thirty-something, who looked like he could be a Navy SEAL, was engaged to Jade Rondonuwu, the resort's Indonesian co-manager, whose beautiful personality matched her outward appearance....

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