Manta Point & Karang Makasar
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Karang Makassar (Makassar Reef) is actually three large reef shoals that run north-south along the east coast of Komodo, forming a barrier reef. It is a famous and popular site for watching manta rays, which aggregate here for a large part of the year and are responsible for a section of the site being named Manta Point. There are several locations where mantas may aggregate, and it is worth scouting from the surface before jumping in. Look for a glimpse of wingtips breaking the surface, or the shadowy form of a manta gliding under the boat.
At first sight the reef here doesn’t appear very exciting, with large expanses of coral rubble and desert like dunes. But look more carefully and a huge diversity of creatures large and small will be revealed. A typical dive begins at the southern end of the reef, and drifts with the rising tide to the north. From 10-20 m many small critters can be found amongst the rubble, and the occasional patch reef teeming with life. Nudibranchs, mantis shrimp, jawfish and large thorny rays live amongst the rubble. Bumphead parrotfish, blacktip reef sharks, bamboo sharks, green turtles, schools of fusiliers, giant trevally, and a lot more can be found. Dugongs have been spotted here, but are a very rare treat. Don’t drift off whilst drifting along, and keep an active eye out in the blue!
The highlight here is of course the mantas, cruising the bottom or hovering above the cleaning stations. They range from 2-5 m in wingspan, and usually have a white belly although some all black individuals have been reported! At times there can be 50 mantas or more aggregating at this site, while at others just a few. If you are lucky enough to encounter them during the mating season, you will find trains of mantas following each other and creating playful balls of twisting and turning individuals. When you spot a manta, drop down close to the seafloor and approach slowly. Better still, drop down onto a clear patch of rubble and sit still. The mantas are inquisitive, and once they get used to your presence, will cruise in for a closer look.
While watching the mantas’graceful dance is a magnificent sight for any diver, it is important to note that divers can disrupt their natural behaviour. Scientists have warned that mantas may locate to other areas if they are continually disturbed. You can help to minimise any negative impacts by staying close to the seafloor, not chasing, touching or crowding the mantas, and being aware that your exhaled bubbles can startle mantas flying overhead. The manta ray interaction guidelines in the annex helps you enjoy a much longer and more spectacular encounters. If you have a camera, you can help scientists to monitor the manta populations by submitting your photos to our website.
Makassar is an ideal place to snorkel, and snorkelers often see many mantas at close quarters. Unencumbered by noisy scuba equipment, the mantas appear more inclined to investigate. In the shallows, you can also benefit from the bright, natural light and the photo opportunities that present themselves. Be aware of the currents when snorkelling or diving, the drift may easily carry you 400-1000 m. It is essential to carry a surface marker or some other way of signalling to the boat.