Wind: 10 knot E
Kakaban Island appeared as a green jewel on a blue sea and what a gem of a location it proved to be. It is an up-raised coral atoll. Eons ago a coral reef formed around a volcanic island. The volcanic rock eroded away and the coral reef was up-thrust by Earth movements.
I am always amazed at the capacity of raised coral atolls to support rainforest vegetation as this island did. There is virtually no soil and the roots were snaking along the rocky surface before delving into cracks. In these forests 90% of the nutrients are in the standing trees. Each dropped leaf or tree trunk decomposes and produces nutrients that are efficiently gobbled up by the surrounding trees.
After most guests had been wowed by the lake (or in a couple of cases freaked by the feel of the harmless jellyfish) we spent lots of time exploring diverse fringing reef. This area is the heart of the Coral Triangle so the diversity of coral was impressive. So was the live coral cover which I estimated at 90% the reef edge. This is exceptional. Branching and large plate corals were dominating. Fish life was also plentiful and varied, particularly with surgeon fish and butterfly fish. I had great views of a mature Hawksbill Turtle as it cruised the drop-off of the reef. Many guests spent hours in the water and/or enjoyed viewing the coral through the windows of the Silver Discoverer's glass bottom boat, while Brad explained the wonders of the reef to them.
It was a busy day on the remote and normally quiet island as it was a public holiday in Indonesia and boatloads of locals from islands nearby had come over to observe the reef and lake too. They were obviously not local fishing villagers but rather town people. It was good to see them looking with wonder like our guests and not harvesting the reef.
Back on board it was time for lunch, relax and watch flying fish as we steamed north. To prepare guests for the jungle ahead on the Kinabatangan River two lectures were presented. Malcolm covered the birds and mammals with 'Weird and Wonderful; fur and feathers of Borneo'. Greg followed with 'Snakes, scales and other tales' covering the incredible reptile diversity of the Borneo.
Bring it on.