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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Pelong Rocks

A quick summary of a weekend morning spend on the water for a change. I recently got invited to join a little snorkeling trip to Pelong rocks. As most of my forays are into the jungle, this was also a great opportunity to test the waters for some pelagic species. We met up with everyone in Muara and were introduced to our friendly hosts of the day: Nad and Sean, two local divers (and, as someone nicely put it, a real power couple!).
Tug boats in the harbor of Muara.
En route to Pelong rocks we noticed this wreck in the distance and innocently informed with Sean if he ever had dived there. He had not, the main reason being that this was the first time he saw this wreck! And indeed we were soon informed by another boat that the ship had only run to ground during the previous night. Luckily the crew of 11 got of unscathed.
A very recent wreck!
Back to Pelong rocks. Pelong rocks is a small rocky formation roughly 3 miles of the shore from Muara. The main outcrop has some trees on it, some of the other parts are completely bare. According to previous records both bridled and black-naped terns are known to breed on these rocks.
On the way to the rocks we did see terns, mostly bridled with an occasional black-naped tern. In the below picture a bridled tern is coming my way with part of Pelong rocks as the backdrop.
Bridled Tern, with Pelong Rocks in the background.
And a little closer.
Bridled Tern (Sterna anaethetus).
Terns seem to still be breeding on the rocky formations, though in small numbers only. We passed by the outcrops too fast & distant for a proper count, but I would estimate that around 25 birds where hanging about.
Bridled terns (Sterna anaethetus).
In front of the main island we got out to do some snorkeling. The water was clear and the snorkeling was absolutely great! I will definitely have to go here again to show some other Panaga uninitiated this spot.
Pelong rocks; main island.
I was thoroughly enjoying looking at all the fish, still I couldn't help myself to occasionally lift my gaze skyward. These gazes were quickly rewarded with views of about 10 pied imperial pigeons hiding in the foliage of the 4 bigger trees on the island.
Pied imperial pigeon (Ducula bicolor).
When the wind picked up we left Pelong rocks and moved to some of the fish farms and our BBQ destination. Along the way a lone little tern was seen and we also passed this beacon. Judging by the white smudges on the green paint this seems a favorite hangout of the black-naped terns.
Black-naped terns (Sterna sumatrana).
Finally a capture of our reliable transport, a custom build dive boat.
The dive boat
This was a very memorable day. Thanks to Guenter for inviting me along and a very big thanks to Nad and Sean for the perfect organization!

Folkert, 16/07/2013


  1. Nice one there, Folkert. I have yet to see a Black-naped or Bridled Tern off the coast here, may be I did not try hard enough.

  2. Thanks! If you're ever in Brunei, both bridled and black-naped should be easy enough!

  3. Hallo Folkert,

    Heb je foto van het groene vuurtje bij de Pelong Rocks op: geplaatst.
    Hoop dat dit accoord is, zoniet, dan haal ik hem weer weg.

    Groet--Hans de Graaf (ook buiten NL woonachtig)

  4. No problem Hans. Impressed that you located the picture :-)