Magic Mountain by Andrina Bindon
by Andrina Bindon
A much loved dive site in southern Raja Ampat is marked on the charts as Karang Bayangan, the local term for Shadow Reef. On a clear, calm day you can see the top of Magic Mountain at about 6m from the surface but that is just the beginning. I like to drop on the northern side of the mountain and work my way, reef left, out along the western ridge. There are some great examples of sea fans and small schools of reef fish feeding from the current passing up and over the ridge. The end of the ridge drops of steeply from about 20m and what a great place to watch the action. There will be sharks cruising by, longfin bannerfish, fusiliers and ocean triggerfish. If you are lucky you may see a manta sweeping up from the depths. Unfortunately you have to leave at some point and head back to the mountain but the show is not over yet.
At 16m by the big boulders I spot a small school of blackfin barracuda hanging off the reef.
As I head up to the reef there is a big school of batfish taking up the water column. They swim past but are ever curious and keep working their way back round to check me out.
I go up shallower and check out the reef building parona corals which provide the habitat for the life teeming on top of the mountain. I look under a table coral and see small juvenile white tip reef sharks resting.
There are clouds of Anthias and schools of small yellowtail snappers. Napolean Wrasse of all shapes and sizes are keeping their distance but I’m lucky enough to catch one at a cleaning station and can get closer to see their beautiful markings.
As I ascend I can see the surface conditions are still good and hope we can go down for another dive.
Andrina Bindon and her husband Simon Marsh, were longtime cruise directors at Dive Damai (www.dive-damai.com). They are now Damai’s Bali-based Operations Managers.