Banda Islands Scuba Diving
'Ship Rock' gets its name from its large central pinnacle that breaks the Banda Sea's surface and looks not surprisingly like a ship. It lies to the north west of Pulau Pisang. The main features that make this site such a favourite are its interesting topography, and enormous gorgonian fans and barrel sponges.
Batu Kapal is unique in the Banda Islands in that it is a series of pinnacles. The main pinnacle is quite large and slopes down to 22 metres. On its west and northern sides there are walls. From the bottom of this central pinnacle, you are then free to explore the deeper submerged pinnacles, 1 off to the southeast, 1 to the east, 1 to the northwest and a large boulder to the north east. The overall area of Batu Kapal is much too large to cover in 1 dive.
The southeast pinnacle drops to 34 metres on its outside, and rises to 26 metres. Here the orange gorgonians and barrel sponges are truly gargantuan. Swimming around the pinnacle, past some beautiful stands of deep purple ellisella whip coral fans, you're sure to encounter large schools of midnight snappers and bigeye bream. The eastern pinnacle is similar but slightly shallower, and the north-eastern boulder lies on 22 metres. The pinnacle in the northwest is more cylindrical, and rises from 40 metres to 10 metres, though it has less coral growth.
Potato cod, moray eels, rainbow runners, longnose emperors, grey reef sharks and yellow tail barracuda are sometimes seen here, so take you pick on which suits your requirements and diving experience.
You'll no doubt end you dive by ascending back up the main pinnacle, over fields of small orange dendronephthya soft coral bushes and violet blue tunicates, home to masses of redtooth triggerfish, and blacklip butterflyfish. Up in the shallows, the rocky surface is adorned with leather corals and hosts an amazing variety of colourful reef fishes. There are lots of red fire gobies, blue goldtail demoiselles, pink and orange-finned anemonefish, and many of the different species of smaller surgeons, such as the palelipped and brown surgeonfish.
When the Banda Sea current is running, Batu Kapal acts like magnet and pulls in the big pelagics. You'll definitely want to make more than 1 dive here on your Banda liveaboard cruise.
Batu Kapal Reef Basics: Pinnacles, huge gorgonian fans and barrel sponges
Depth: 5 - 40m
Visibility: 20 - 40m
Surface conditions: Sea can be choppy
Water temperature: 26 - 29°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: 3
Diving season: March, April, and mid-September to mid-December
Distance: ~5.5 km (25 mins) east northeast of Banda Neira
Access: Indonesia liveaboard
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