Atauro Island Diving is something you really should not miss if you visit Timor Leste. It has some excellent dive sites, particularly so on the west coast. With many of those sites featuring magnificent walls that drop down in to the deep waters of the Ombai Straits.
While the east coast sites are more reef dives… That said though, down in the south-east corner there are also some excellent and quite impressive wall dives
You will also find many sheltered bays and good (if not spectacular…) fringing reefs.
And in those bays you will see a large variety of hard corals, bright red barrel sponges, gorgonian fans, colorful soft corals and a great assortment of reef fish and critters.
Atauro is a very arid island – with no lakes, ponds, rivers or even large streams. So, there is virtually no run-off water.
This obviously makes life incredibly hard for the residents of the island.
At it’s worse, in the dry season, the water supply is reduced to the trickle that emerges out of the limestone rock beneath the island’s vegetation.
But, on the other hand – for us divers, it means tremendous year-round visibility due to the lack of run-off.
Atauro Island Diving – Biodiversity
In August 2012 highly respected marine scientists Mark Erdmann and Gerry Allen led a Rapid Marine Biological Assessment of Timor Leste for Conservation International.
The results of the assessment indicated that the area was ranked 7th for overall coral fish diversity. Out of a total of 49 surveys conducted in the Coral Triangle.
Atauro was singled out as having the most diversity. And, as the top priority, for establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) around the island.
Marine Mammal Superhighway?
Besides it’s excellent walls the deep waters of the Ombai Strait are on the migratory path for many species of whales. And sightings are made on a regular basis.
Obviously I was hoping to see them underwater while diving Atauro Island. But it was not to be and this was the closest I got…
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