Robin's Adventures

Tales of the South Pacific
A Tropical Island Adventure

Brown Boobies and Dolphins

On one of our sea days we managed to see some interesting wildlife. A large seabird with long pointed wings, webbed feet, and a distinctive white lower breast and belly followed our ship and delighted us by fishing along side. The Brown Booby, or Sula leucogaster, plunge dives from heights up to fifty feet about the ocean's surface. The bird folds in his wings just before hitting the water and can dive up to six feet below the surface.

In addition, we also saw a large pod of dolphins swimming nearby.

Komodo Island

Komodo Island, which is one of the more than 17,000 islands that make up the nation of Indonesia, is about 150 square miles in area.

The island, along with several neighboring islands, has been designated a national park in order to protect not only the Komodo dragon, but also to protect the rich diversity of marine life surrounding the islands.

Fly Like an Eagle

The red-backed sea-eagle lives in coastal regions and feeds on fish, insects, and carrion. Although these birds can hunt for themselves and grab fish out of the water, they have also been known to steal fish from other birds. The red-backed sea-eagle can take a fish from the talons of another bird while both birds are still in flight.

On the Trail

Komodo Island is volcanic in origin and the climate is very hot and dry. The island is mostly a tropical savanna forest habitat with trails that are are dry, dusty, and surrounded by lots of leaf litter and low growing vegetation.

Dragon Hunters

Komodo dragons, which have the distinction of being the world's largest lizard, are powerful hunters. Although they have excellent vision and can see things that are almost 1,000 feet away, their primary hunting tool is their sense of smell. They use their massive forked yellow tongue to sample odors in the air and can detect carrion up to 2.5 miles away.

Portrait of a Dragon

The dragon's hunting strategy is to knock its prey, such as the Timor Deer, to the ground and then rip it to pieces using its claws and its sharp teeth.

Komodo dragons can swallow large chunks of food very rapidly and have been known to consume up to 80 percent of their own weight in a single meal.

Baby Dragons

Female Komodo dragons make nests on mounds of dirt mixed with twigs and leaves. The mounds can be as large as three feet tall and ten feet wide. The female usually lays about 30 eggs which take about 9 months to incubate.

The baby dragons weigh about 3.5 ounces when they hatch and are usually about 16 inches long. Since the newborns are often eaten by the adults, they sometimes will roll in fecal matter to hide their scent. The young dragons then scurry up into a tree where they will spend much of their early years.

Dragons on the Move

The largest Komodo dragon on record measured 10.3 feet in length and weighed 366 pounds. Although, in the wild, most dragons tend to weigh about 150 pounds.

Generally slow moving, these lizards can reach speeds up to 13 mph for short bursts.

Sunrise over Lombok

Lombok, one of Indonesia's many islands, has an area of 1,743 square miles which is almost as large as the US state of Delaware. Lombok has some beautiful beaches, lots of fertile farmland, and the second largest volcano in Indonesia. Mount Rinjani, which is 12,224 feet tall, last erupted in September of 2016.

We were met at the dock by a welcoming committee of local musicians who enthusiastically performed for us.

Traditional Fishing

Throughout the harbor area we saw numerous traditional bamboo fishing structures called bagang. Nets, which are suspended from the bottom of the structure, are dropped down to the ocean floor and lights are used to attract the fish. When a sufficient number of fish have gathered, the net is lifted and the fish are caught inside.