I had a good sleep until 5:00 a.m.; it was still dark so I try to sleep until 6:00 am; the excitement of the fishing prospect kept me awake and all I could think of was getting ready to explore the coast. I ended up getting up just when the morning light started appearing; it was worth waking up too, the sunlight penetrated the dense forest and lighted up the bay giving a spectacular show of nature. The sound of bird chirping, the small waves breaking on the beach, and the water passing through the small river added to a marvelous experience that one can never forget! I call this waking up in profound peace of mind, with a profound contact with nature, only our senses are active by hearing the pleasant sounds of nature, by smelling the pure air of the forest and sea, and by seeing peaceful and natural surroundings unaffected by the growth of civilization and all that this entails. It is an amazing feeling to experience nature at its purity and magnificence.
|Morning at Camp
I had some breakfast and drank my Argentinean mate-tea. Fabio and I then quickly went for short dive in front of our camp to explore the natural condition of the coast. We saw a lot of small Snapper, Mullet, small Blue Fin, Trevally and many other reef fish. Then the other camp mates finished getting ready and we all took the boat to check the potential big fish spots. The first spot had a lot of big rocks and the coral destroyed by heavy dynamite bombing was sad and very depressing. This has become a common problem in most remote areas of Indonesia; it a shame that there is nothing that can be done about this chronic situation. Unfortunately responsible people close their eyes to bombing that is obvious and recurring all the time. What is also appalling is that fishes are sold for cheap prices because all the entrails are destroyed, their eyes are popped out and the body texture looks like has been beaten up. The majority of the fishes end up as farm animal food, aquaculture, fertilizer and small local fish markets.
The second spot was on the edge of the bay facing the Indian Ocean. The swell was big, the wind was blowing hard, and the current was mild. Again we witnessed the sad situation of the reef habitat destroyed by bombing and we could see very few fishes and it looks like it has been fished out. The boys saw some good size Trevally but they were easily frightened. Arvid saw a good size reef Shark that disappeared in a few seconds before we saw Arvid. After the dive we found out that fishermen set net everyday on the spot. No wonder the place looked like a desert. They set their nets in the afternoon on the right side of the entrance of the bay and they then collect the fishes next morning. We saw the catch the next day and it was impressive Southern Threadfin,Red Sea Bass, and few Snapper.
|Arvid and Peter Spearfishing East Java Sea
The third spot looks more promising; it is Small Island in the middle of the bay. Judging by our experience, it’s an ideal location to spot big Trevally and Snapper. We saw group of Pompano and shot one, but nothing else after that. Rob was close to wave break against the rock which forms white water and bubbles. He shot twice and both fishes were massive Pompanos. Both fish ripped off and got off from their spears, a common problem when you are in the middle of white water, wave and choppy water caused by strong wind. The other companions only saw small Trevally and call it quit because they were too tired from the previous two dives.
Time for lunch and Arvid made a delicious rice and fish soup with blue fin Trevally. We all enjoyed the meal and were full, ready to rest for a short siesta and then go back to the water and try our luck again. Based on his previous experience, Bob was pumping himself up for his new adventure. He is now focused and prepared to avoid making the same mistake again. We first warmed up on the reef close by our camp. There were a lot of rubbish fishes like small snappers and small Trevally. We could not see anything big and I ended up shooting a good size bream; we then headed back to the island; Rob wanted to test his luck; the wind and current were stronger. We were just on time for the peak fish activity, just before it reached low tide. I came across two Cobia, one small was in a good range but I then saw a bigger one at a distant place that slowly came closely but it then quickly turned back. I didn’t wish to miss the chance, so I took the shot and missed at point blank. My moral went down and I called it off for the day. I dived twice to wait for the Cobia to come back but it never happened. The water visibility was getting worse, strong wind and it was getting dark.
|Fresh Fish for dinner
When we returned, we were happy to see Arvid with a few fishes, Mangrove Jack, Trevally and nice size mullet. Dinner time and our menu consisted of grilled Pompano and Snappers, some grilled vegetables and spicy fried rice. After we finished dinner a fisherman went to the camp fire with a serious face. He warned me to tell everyone not to throw any chili to the fire because of the locals’ believe. Moved by curiosity, I asked this gentleman:
“What is the believe about throwing chili into the fire?” He answered with firm conviction: “If you throw chili into the fire, the big Tiger will come; there are still a lot of big Tigers and Leopards around”.
Usually we throw away any uneatable food such as bones to the fire. We don’t want to attract any wild animal to our camp. It is an old Javanese believe and made all of us thinking what is the logic behind: fire + chili = angry/hungry tiger? In respect for our neighbors’ believe, we didn’t throw any chili into the fire. Our conclusion to the myth was that once upon time a hunter or fisherman put a chili on the fire and coincidentally an angry tiger happened to be nearby and decided to try a different menu. The National park top predators are Civet, wild dog, Java Leopard and a handful Tiger population. Every fisherman has a story about his encounter with the king of the jungle. They believe that during drought season all the jungle animals go down the mountain to search water holes and that’s when one has the chance to see them; they normally hid out in the mountain forest.
|Endangered Java Leopard
Later on during the night, Rob the ukulele master made an awesome song for the night called: “Don’t put chili on the fire”; we enjoyed the rest of the night stars gazing, making a lot wishes due to the amount of shooting stars across the sky. Rob and Wolou made more lap photographs. The sleeping arrangement changed a little bit in the tent since, instead having fish in our heads, we were now affected by tiger-paranoia; we positioned ourselves in lesser vulnerable Tiger attack position!
|Ukelele master Rob