Crossing the Banda Sea
Mon 14 Nov 2016 08:46
I apologise to the dolphins. I was wrong, they weren't being lazy and languid in the heat, hardly putting their heads above the water as they slowly came up for air and not bothering to come and play in our bow wave. They were actually Melon Headed Whales again, and that's just how Melon Headed Whales do things: slow and steady, not playful and leaping, coming up out of the water just as much as is needed and no more. We saw some other interesting dolphins as well, about 10 of them popped up, all in a clump, shoulder to shoulder, then they slid back under the surface and I dashed to get my camera for when they next came up and... they didn't. It was flat calm, we could see for miles, they'd be easy to spot, black against silver, but they had vanished. We didn't get a great look but by their behaviour, after reading through the whale and dolphin guide, my best bet is that they were Rough-Toothed Dolphins, the synchronised swimmers of the deep. These chaps are known to dive for 15 minutes at a time to more than 70m depth, hence the disappearing act.
The mirror smooth surface of the Banda Sea has let us see some other inhabitants of the ocean that have escaped our notice before. We knew they were there but hadn't been able to see them. If you look over the side as we slide through the salty sea, you can see thousands of little freckles, where something is popping up to the surface, "like backwards rain" Phil says. Copepods. Tiny little shrimpy things that are the basis of life in the ocean. Bigger shrimpy things eat those tiny shrimpy things, and fish eat those shrimpy things and bigger fish eat those fish and the birds come and eat them all at each stage (except the very big fish of course, like whales and marlin and sharks, except when they are dead. It sounds like a question Ben from Out Numbered would ask: "If a whale and an eagle were fighting, who would win? What about a shark and a condor?). Anyway, now we've seen why the beautiful delicate Storm Petrels dance on the water, dipping their toes in to stir up the copepods that they love to eat.
Apart from that it's actually been a bit boring: not enough wind to sail, engine on and on and on, hot and noisy and stunningly beautiful.
Day 3 - Supper: a little salami, cheese and crackers with tinned beetroot.
Day 4 - Breakfast: cereal, tinned peaches, boat-made yoghurt. Lunch: Fish and rice. Well, to be exact, mahi mahi cooked in ahe sauce with nasi goreng that had sun roasted pumpkin stirred into it. Supper: kebab. Actually there are no kebab shops here so it's boat made pitta filled with some of yesterday's lamb and a salad of grated green papaya, cucumber, mint and yoghurt.
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