Today we added a stop on our way to Komodo. At first light, we set eyes on the perfect cone and ash plume of the Batutara Volcano that makes up Pulau Komba Island. As we got closer and closer, we could even smell the sulfur that is constantly emitted by this impressive, active volcano. As soon as we were in position, we launched Zodiacs to find the best spots for snorkeling and diving.

We expected to do our water activities from the Zodiacs, but we found a beautiful black sand beach in the early morning light. What a privilege to be able to set foot on this tiny, remote island! The reef was just spectacular with crystal-clear waters, many different types of colorful soft coral, and a myriad of fish. What a perfect snorkel spot! After last night’s recap and Brett’s presentation about how we share an unexpected amount of DNA with sea squirts, we kept our eyes peeled for a good look at and photos of our distant relatives. As a bonus, many of us were able to see a big octopus stretching out over the coral.

Underwater, the flanks of Batutara Volcano drop off to 700 m. This made for a spectacular wall dive. Divers enjoyed great visibility of the diverse coral with beautiful sea fans and rugged underwater canyons bustling with marine life.

For those who preferred to stay dry during the morning, a Zodiac cruise around the volcano was offered. With the guidance of geologist John, this was a perfect on-site volcanology lesson with close views of the sulfur cone and the towering plumes. We were able to witness the formation of a scree field as it happened. As small rocks spewed out of the volcanic cone and landed on the steep, rocky slope, some of them were still fuming.

Back on board, we were treated to a Frühschoppen. The hotel department set up a grill with sausages, sauerkraut, and fresh brezels. To the tunes of Bavarian music, we sailed towards Komodo with Pulau Komba slowly disappearing on the horizon behind us.

Photography was the theme of the afternoon. Photo instructor Lisa organized a photo analysis in the main lounge. Everyone had the chance to submit their favorite images and discuss them with the fellow travelers, Lisa, and National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier. So many great photos were submitted that the lively discussion was extended by half an hour. And tomorrow, there is more to come.

After recap and a briefing by expedition leader Alex regarding our visit to Komodo Island, we are all excited for tomorrow’s adventure.