2 – 12 November 2009

The hour we arrived in Wanci, we immediately had a meeting with WWF Indonesia Wakatobi Project Leader Veda Santiadji in their Wangi Wangi office.  He offered us different travel scenarios and we got really excited when the first option was to do initial diving on 2 snapper Spawning Aggregation Sites (Spags) then proceed to far away Moromaho for a bird survey, then to continue on to Runduma & Anano Islands, slowly coming back to Wangi Wangi visiting the different islands of WA KA TO BI.

Wakatobi National Park Rangers surfacing after a dive counting fish aggregating during pre-spawning period

Wakatobi National Park Rangers Putu Orba & Laode surfacing after a dive counting fish aggregating during pre-spawning period. Baracuda the 500hp speedboat in the background

We were going with several boats to get to the islands. The super fast 500 hp National Park speedboat Baracuda was our first vessel for the Spags survey.

Our home away from home in Wakatobi. Menami, the lovely wooden boat of WWF & TNC

Our home away from home in Wakatobi – Menami, the lovely wooden boat of TNC/WWF joint program

Menami crew, field staff of WWF & TNC, park rangers and the Freund Factory share a moment with the giant panda

Menami crew, field staff of WWF & TNC, park rangers and the Freund Factory share a moment with the giant panda

TNC/WWF liveaboard and floating research station Menami (meaning Napoleon wrasse), WWF speedboat Simba (meaning trevalley) and a dingy with no name were our vessels for our far trip to Moromaho. Great. Our first dive with the rangers was near Hoga Channel in Kaledupa. Viz was BAD. About 5 meters and no use taking any photos here. We had better luck on our second dive in Tomia the next day and the rangers counted about 50+ black snappers Macolor niger aggregating.

National Park Ranger counting aggregating black snappers in Tomia Island

National Park Ranger Putu Orba counting aggregating black snappers in Mari Mabuk, Tomia Island

Mah Sugi and the rangers encoding data into their Spawning Aggregation Site SPAGS project sheets

WWF’s Sugiyanta and the National Park rangers Putu Orba & Laode encoding data into their Spawning Aggregation Site (SPAGS) project sheets

When in very remote Moromaho, we were awakened by Sugi at 5am one morning to say there were two turtles making their way back to sea. The two mothers were working very hard, but the low tide was upon them. They had to crawl their way to the deep water and it was far far away as the beach just went on and on like a sandy desert!

Hawksbill turtle mother at dawn crawling out slowly heaving her body through the low tide

Hawksbill turtle mother at dawn crawling out, slowly heaving her body through the low tide

It was about 9am when we took this picture. It was scorching hot and a long long way to the edge of the water. We don't know if this mother green turtle made it but we have been hoping and yes, praying for her survival

It was about 10am when we took this picture. It was scorching hot and a long way still to the edge of the water. We don’t know if this mother green turtle made it but we have been hoping and yes, praying for her survival

Sugi and the rangers tried to lift her, to help her get to the water but to no avail. She was too heavy even for three men to carry!

Sugi and the rangers tried to lift her, to help her get to the water, but to no avail. She was too heavy even for three men to carry!

In uninhabited Anano Island, the adjacent island to Runduma where the fishing village was, Sugi released seven baby green turtles handed to us by the villagers from Runduma. We wished them survival and hope they can grow up to come back to this island one day.

Sugi releasing 7 baby green turtles to sea.

Sugi releasing 7 baby green turtles to sea.

We returned to Wanci after many days hopping from island to island. It was good to be back on land again and having enough water to take a real shower. At night, Yogi and I were cleaning ourselves, when we were on remote islands Moromaho and Anano, with moist baby wipes and trickles of drinking water! Rationed and very limited water made us realize how much we took running water for granted, how our location plans changed the minute we were low on water!

Here’s us in and around Wakatobi.

A hateful insect called agas or sand flies from the beach can drive you insane with itch and scratching. It drove us to find solace in this uninhabited hut. We broke in and slept here for the next 2 nights

A hateful insect called agas or sand flies from the beach can drive you insane with itch and scratching from sunset to sunrise. It drove us nuts enough to break into this empty hut on stilts situated 200 meters away from the beach of Moromaho

Yogi photographing agar-agar seaweed and farmer split-level underwater and topside in the Bajo village in Hoga, Kaledupa

Yogi photographing agar-agar seaweed and farmer – split-level underwater and topside in the Bajo village of Hoga, Kaledupa

This is for my mom to see that I can hand wash our laundry if I have to

This is for my mom to see that I can hand wash our laundry if I have to

We were told a true story when we were in Jamursbamedi, West Papua. Some NGOs brought laundry detergent called Rinso to a West Papuan village one day. The chief was so happy by how clean his clothes got that he named his newborn son RINSO!  Well, because of this story, I always bought Rinso for our laundry.

Hot and sticky, Yogi carries around in this monstrous backpack 2 cameras, 6 lenses, 2 strobes and all accessories and I carry the tripod and a tiny snappy camera. Boy am I tired by just looking at Yogi

Hot and sticky, Yogi carries around in this monstrous backpack 2 cameras, 6 lenses, 2 strobes and all cables & accessories and I carry the tripod and a tiny snappy camera. Boy am I tired by just looking at Yogi

Runduma Island kids curious about these two bolehs (foreigners) photographing everything in their island that seems so ordinary to them

Runduma Island kids curious about these two bolehs (foreigners) photographing everything in their island that seems so ordinary to them

Last group picture in Wakatobi (finally with Veda Santiadji) in front of the WWF/TNC office in Wanci with our much loved and dirty flag

Last group picture in Wakatobi (finally with Veda Santiadji) in front of the WWF/TNC office in Wanci with our much loved and dirty flag