We woke up to find ourselves being greeted by the sultry bear-hug of the Sun and calm breeze in Semporna. Today was a day to make a move to explore Boheydulang.
The volcano forms a lagoon of islands, and as it is severely eroded away, the old crater is now connected to the sea. It was a breathtaking view, when the Pangaea sailed into the volcano and we could imagine how great the mountain used to be, millions of years ago.
Getting our scuba gear ready, we took a step off the Pangaea into the warm (30 degrees Celsius!!!) tropical water. We again split up into groups: those completing their open water certificate, those doing their advanced certificate and those who were just exploring the reef. The reef had less damage than the other reefs we have already explored, as the area around the volcano is a marine protected area. It was amazing to see rare creatures such as pipefish and juvenile bump-head parrotfish. In cages, there were also clams that the nearby farm was breeding. The cages were full of clams!
After the dive we hopped into our dinghy and headed towards the volcanic island. For the first time in the last six days, we were going to really exercise our legs so as to be able to scale the steep and slippery slopes of the mountain. Going through primary rainforest, we were surprised by the great biodiversity of plants all around us. We were also told, that there were many vipers in this forest, and indeed, we did find one snake. Not being equipped with the best of hiking shoes, we managed with great difficulty to finally reach the summit. The view was stunning. We could see Pangaea in the distance, looking small in comparison to the expanse of the sea. This was a view that we will never forget for the rest of our lives.
Going down the slope was more challenging than going up. It was getting dark, and only a few of us had brought headlamps. We had to feel our way past thorns, vines and slippery rocks to gradually make our way down. With muddy boots and sweat running down our faces, we were relieved to have made it back to sea level.
Guided by the workers in the clam farm, we were shown around the facility. They breed clams, abalones and conduct research on algae. Our professional shell expert, Markus, gave us explanations about the mollusks and then we had the opportunity of having a hands-on experience with the animals. It was strange to feel the slimy, soft abalone clinging to our hands. They left a trail of mucus on our skin…
There are seven different types of clams living in the Borneo region. Some clams grow at a rate of one centimeter in a year, thus you can imagine that clam farming is a very slow process. To breed the clams, they aggravate the animal by placing it in cold and then hot water. Consequently, they will release sperms and eggs into the water, which the farmer/diver will collect using a bag. The sperms and eggs are then placed into a container with a rough surface on the bottom. After a few weeks, you can then observe tiny clams growing on this surface.
Back on the Pangaea, we enjoyed a dinner under the stars. It was our last night with Mike, as he will be leaving tomorrow for India.