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INDONESIACastle RockKomodo National Park, Indonesia, is known for its strong currents and abundant marine life both big and small. The region has been blessed with a multitude of outstanding dive sites -Crystal Rock, Manta Alley, Batu Balong, Cannibal Rock and The Cauldron, to name a few.“ Here, massive schools of fusiliers and yellow-masked surgeons congregate. Whitetip reef sharks glide over the reef, and grey reef sharks patrol out in the blue, joined by tuna and wahoo ”For me, though, Castle Rock is the pick of the bunch. Located in open water in the park’s northern reaches, this submerged reef is an absolute gem.
Lying just 5m beneath the surface, this giant rock vaguely resembles a turreted castle, which sits on top of a plateau that then slopes down on all sides into the depths. The reef has great coral coverage, excellent critter spotting opportunities, sharks, turtles, schooling fish and even the occasional visit from manta rays and dolphins. However, when the current is ripping, especially close to a full or new moon, Castle Rock transforms from excellent to mind-blowing and becomes an adrenaline-fuelled punch in the face of a dive site.
In my experience, the best time of day to dive this site is early morning or late afternoon when the predators are out in force, and most of the action seems to occur. The best place to be is where the current first hits the reef, and the best way to reach this spot is to drop in slightly in front of the reef and get down to 25m-30m as fast as possible before the current pushes you off the reef, and then hook onto a rock and watch the show.
Here, massive schools of fusiliers and yellow-masked surgeons congregate. Whitetip reef sharks glide over the reef, and grey reef sharks patrol out in the blue, joined by tuna and wahoo. Large gangs of the thuggish-looking giant trevallies mingle innocently with the schooling fish. Then out of nowhere, this tranquil scene of coexistence is shattered, the trevallies suddenly burst into life and harpoon through the fusiliers prompting the sharks and other predatory fish to follow suit. For a few minutes, absolute bedlam ensues, and the whole dive site becomes a swirling, dizzying mass of fish that completely engulf you. The schools are so large you can even hear a boom when they all simultaneously change direction in an attempt to confuse and evade their pursuers.
The reef fish that take refuge in the coral labyrinths are also not safe from the frenzied attention of the trevallies who enlist the help of moray eels and whitetip reef sharks to push the unfortunate fish from their coral enclaves. Once out in the open, they soon disappear in a cloud of scales.
Depending on the current, at Castle Rock, you can witness predation at its merciless best or enjoy a sedate cruise through coral gardens searching for critters. This is a dive site that you can dive time after time and never get bored.
Did you know?Up to 5,965 Komodo dragons can be found in Komodo National Park, which covers three major islands, namely Komodo, Rinca and Padar.Who to dive with The Arenui www.thearenui.com Essential informationLocation: Komodo National Park, Indonesia Depth: 5m-30m Diver level: Advanced “ Lying just 5m beneath the surface, this giant rock vaguely resembles a turreted castle, which sits on top of a plateau that then slopes down on all sides into the depths ”