Manuk – The Other Island Of The Sea Snakes

Gunung Api might be the island of the sea snakes, but it’s not the only place you can find these amazing creatures in the Banda Sea – Manuk is another remote volcanic island far from human contact where sea snakes thrive

Gunung Api is the famous volcano of the sea snakes which most Banda Sea liveaboards try and visit, weather permitting – but there is another volcanic island, Manuk, where scores of sea snakes can also be found. Manuk is as remote as Gunung Api, located nearly one hundred miles off the Banda Islands and out on its own in the middle of the Banda Sea. Not that many boats go there due to it being so out of the way of the usual Banda itinerary, so I was really pleased we were going to get a chance to see Manuk and Gunung Api on the same trip. (Sadly it meant we didn’t go to Luci Para atoll though, but you can’t win them all).

You can smell the stench of sulphur as the liveaboard gets near to Manuk, and there was even a visible plume of steam rising from one of the vents in the steep sides of the island. There are hot rocks in the shallows too, just like at Sangeang in Komodo, where the warmth from the volcano bubbles up through into the water.

A Group Of Sea Snakes at Manuk, Banda Sea
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A Group Of Sea Snakes at Manuk, Banda Sea

Two Seasnakes At Manuk, Banda Sea
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Two Seasnakes At Manuk, Banda Sea

Sea Snakes In Close Up, Banda Sea
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Sea Snakes In Close Up, Banda Sea

Two Sea Snakes at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Two Sea Snakes at Manuk, Banda Sea

Sea Snake at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Sea Snake at Manuk, Banda Sea

Sea Snake at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Sea Snake at Manuk, Banda Sea

Sea Snake Heading For Surface at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Sea Snake Heading For Surface at Manuk, Banda Sea

Coral at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Coral at Manuk, Banda Sea

Sea Snake Amongst The Coral, Manuk, Banda Sea
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Sea Snake Amongst The Coral, Manuk, Banda Sea

Close Up Of Sea Snake Amongst The Coral
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Close Up Of Sea Snake Amongst The Coral

There were perhaps not quite as many sea snakes as I was expecting here, though you can see from the photos below they were certainly not bothered by divers – these shots are not so great as I was still getting used to just how fast they move in the water – really quite incredible to watch. There is also a great deal of amazing hard and soft coral around Manuk as well – I spent one whole dive in the shallows trying to capture the surge of the ocean above pristine bommies and huge sponge corals.

Corals And Sea Surge at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Corals And Sea Surge at Manuk, Banda Sea

Sponge Corals And Sea Surge at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Sponge Corals And Sea Surge at Manuk, Banda Sea

Fan Coral And Sea Surge at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Fan Coral And Sea Surge at Manuk, Banda Sea

Sponge Corals at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Sponge Corals at Manuk, Banda Sea

Sponge Corals at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Sponge Corals at Manuk, Banda Sea

Besides the sea snakes, the other thing about Manuk is the absolutely huge schools of barracuda to be seen here. I have never seen so many barracuda in one place and again, they were not particularly bothered by divers getting near to them. Watching a school of barracuda hundreds of fish strong moving together is a majestic sight and my enduring memory of Manuk. I hope I can go back there at some point, as one day just wasn’t enough to fully take in this amazing island.

Barracuda at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Barracuda at Manuk, Banda Sea

Barracuda at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Barracuda at Manuk, Banda Sea

Barracuda at Manuk, Banda Sea
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Barracuda at Manuk, Banda Sea

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