“Ouu, ouu, ouu!” A voice underwater echoes near me at a depth 30 metres as our dive guide, Yardin, points his hand in front of us. Suddenly, a large school of scalloped hammerhead sharks lines up in front of me, swimming majestically across the blue waters of the Forgotten Islands in the Banda Sea.
I am in awe – as are the other divers in our group. Hundreds of hammerhead sharks pass by gracefully, marking their territory. This is the Shark Republic, and we are visitors.
Indonesia’s Banda Sea holds many mysteries. Among them, the schooling scalloped hammerheads are a phenomenon that can be found only during certain periods during the year.
My journey begins in Tulehu Harbour in the southwestern corner of the Maluku Islands. There, the Amaya Explorer, a 35-metre traditional phinisi, awaits. The vessel has just completed a long journey from Jakarta to Ambon after undergoing renovations to its interior.
The Amaya Explorer, a luxury liveaboard with a capacity of 20 guests, is equipped with full diving facilities along with two speedboats to facilitate each dive. The boat is also equipped with a full kitchen and dining room, and a jacuzzi area on the deck for six people to relax under the stars in the middle of the ocean.
Arriving at the harbour, I am introduced to Nello, a PADI dive instructor. We talk about the exciting trip ahead, chasing sharks in an area known as the “Ring of Fire”.
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Issue 02 - 2020