Snorkeling, Atauro Style

With such a small population and no large commercial fishing enterprises, the waters of Timor-Leste are brimming with sea life, with coral reefs in pristine condition, and the waters off Atauro Island were no exception.

The beautiful, mild waters off Atauro Island

The beautiful, mild waters off Atauro Island


Sarah glides through the sea

Sarah glides through the sea

On our first day on Atauro we’d snorkeled in beautiful waters, a few metres deep. The beds of sea grass which grew almost to the shore were home to starfish of various colours and shape, whilst slightly further out the reef began, home to numerous species of fish.

Local stars come in many shapes and colours

Local stars come in many shapes and colours


A shy Lionfish lurks in the world beneath (beautiful, yet venomous)

A shy Lionfish lurks in the world beneath (beautiful, yet venomous)

However, as lovely as our first day was under the water, our second was to prove an even greater treat.

Through sheer chance, when we entered the water on day 2, the tide was extremely low. Whilst this meant for the 1st 20-30 metres we were essentially wading through the grass beds, once beyond and into the reef proper, coral formations that a day earlier might have been 4 or 5 metres deep, were now only a couple of metres from the surface.

It was a magical experience, and one that sadly, our photos (with a fairly cheap, but serviceable waterproof camera) do not truly capture.

Blue Green Damselfish put on a show

Blue Green Damselfish put on a show


A Moorish Idol takes centre stage

A Moorish Idol takes centre stage

We probably spent close to an hour in the water, our only hope that our waterproof sunscreen was not lost in the process.

But on reflection on what we were able to see in our time under the waves, it is little surprise that time so quickly and easily got away from us.

An Anemonefish (more commonly known as the Clownfish from 'Finding Nemo' fame) takes  a quick peek from its Anemone home

An Anemonefish (more commonly known as the Clownfish from ‘Finding Nemo’ fame) takes a quick peek from its Anemone home


We were able to simply float amongst these beauties

We were able to simply float amongst these beauties


The bright yellow flash of an Angelfish really caught the eye

The bright yellow flash of an Angelfish really caught the eye


Three Striped Damselfish cling to their coral home

Three Striped Damselfish cling to their coral home


A trio of Clownfish show off their colours

A trio of Clownfish show off their colours

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