Bali to Komodo, October 1999
page 5 of 9
Islands and Beaches
(Click any photo throughout to see a larger version)
Komodo National Park encompasses Komodo, Komodo's neighbor Rinca, many nearby tiny islands, and the waters that surround them. It includes beautiful beaches, water, and coral reefs. We wandered across gorgeous sandy beaches and snorkeled among coral, fish, anemones, worms, and giant clams of every imaginable color and shape. This picture was taken from the small island of Gili Lawa Laut. You can see the patches of coral and sandy bottom through the transparent water.
Here's part of the group on a late afternoon exploration of a beach on Komodo. We were supposed to be cautious of potential giant predatory lizards, but I was off by myself taking pictures like this one instead.
Many of the sandy beaches were pinkish, caused by tiny fragments of red coral mixed in with the sand. Here's a hunk of that selfsame red coral surrounded by thousands of broken-off pieces of other types of coral.
Karin, Wendy, Cheryl, Monica and I (you know who you are!) made a little collection of some of the interesting and beautiful shells and pieces of coral found within a few minutes of each other. I promised to put a picture of our collection on my web site, and here it is. Clockwise from top, I think we have: a smallish giant clam, a pretty big cowrie, a top-hat shell (with the pointy end sticking into the sand), three pieces of coral, and a scorpion shell. My seashell nomenclature is very rusty though, so I might be misnaming.
It was exciting to find nautilus shells washed up on the beach. I put this one up on a marker stick. We thought this achieved a sort of "Lord of the Flies" look.
Here, bracketed by the feet of Wendy and Monica, is the famed Giant Bird Footprint of Komodo. We found a trail of these footprints on the beach, and were baffled as to what sort of immense bird could have made them. Wendy and I were rooting for a wayward cassowary. Birder Wendy actually wanted to start a barefoot expedition into the dragon-strewn hills in search of the giant bird as the sun set, but our guide Karin talked her out of it. After rifling through the Adelaar's collection of identification guides, Karin thought that the responsible bird was probably the Great-billed Heron we had seen earlier in the area. Wendy was still holding out for some sort of six-foot-tall flightless giant, hopefully unknown to science. The next morning on the same beach we spied a trio of Great-billed Herons stalking about and, sure enough, their tracks matched our mystery footprint. Too bad.
I was very pleased to discover that the rocky beaches of the Komodo area come with their very own lizards. These tiny little skinks (Burden's Snake-eyed Skink, Cryptoblepharus burdeni) race to and fro on the tide-pool rocks looking for tiny munchables. Lizards everywhere -- woo hoo!

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