HAL 2019 World – Days 53-54 Sea Day & Komodo Island, Indonesia

March 18, 2019 Paul Groves

Here There Be Dragons!

We arrived in Slawi Bay and tendered onto the island around 9:00am. Our visit today was different from other ports in that unless you were part of an excursion group, you couldn’t leave the ship.  This is one method countries are using to better control crowds and protect their natural environments.

For the next few days we’re getting closer to the equator so the weather is getting hotter and the humidity is almost 100% every day.  Today the temperature was about 88 with 98% humidity.  We needed to carry big bottles of water everywhere we went. 

Today’s tour was a two hour walk thru the monsoon forest to see the famous Komodo Dragons!

We met our tour guide and two additional park guides on the island.  The two additional park guides were there for our protection with one of them walking at the front and the other the rear of the group.  Each one carried a forked stick they would use to guide a dragon away from the group should they get too near.

Sometime around September, Female dragons lay 20-30 eggs once a year in a huge nest and then leave.  The eggs take about 9 months to mature and hatch around April.  The baby dragons will immediately climb into the surrounding trees (if they haven’t been eaten by other larger dragons).  They may also burrow into dead palm trees since the interior is very soft.  They live in the trees for two years before they come down to live on the ground.

Some scientists believe that when a dragon attacks an animal it will secrete a poisonous saliva.  This saliva contains over 60 different types of bacteria.  The animal may take from 1 to 7 days to die from the bite.  The dragons will be able to detect the dead animal using their extremely sensitive smell.  

However, most scientists believe they eat their prey alive by biting them and ripping at them with their claws.  In some cases they’ve been known to swallow their prey whole!

Our walk took us to two waterholes in the forest.  At the first one we saw a group of 4 dragons.  Our guide made sure we stayed well away from them.  They occasionally got up and walked around but fortunately they left us alone (they also didn’t look hungry).  These were four males about 6 ft and weighing approximately 150 lbs each.  

We continued on to the 2nd waterhole where we saw 3 more dragons: 2 males and 1 female.  They appeared to be asleep but I’m sure they kept an eye on us.  

Along the way we also saw deer and wild boars as well.

After our tour, as we walked to the souvenir stands, a dragon suddenly appeared and headed towards the stands.  About 20 feet before the stands, he turned off the path and into a wetland area.  Everyone was relieved!