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krakatau history -vulcanic active
[ Download from this server (135.8Kb) ] 2011-06-02, 4:59 PM

The Journey to the island takes 1 : 30 hours on a good day in a normal fiber glass boat, and the best time of year to make the trip is between March and October. During the monsoon season (November to April) the time taken may be very much longer and the journey will be uncomfortable, although there may be storms in any month of the year. It is advisable to cover up well during the  trip-even on overcast days one can badly sun burnt in a open boat at sea.

Keep your eyes open, and you m ay see a Frigate Bird soaring high overhead, flicking its scissor-like tail as it changes direction with hardly a flap of its wings. You will almost certainly spot flying fish making their long low glides above the sea's surface. Some of the them "fly" for tens of meters, and airborne for several second. Dolphin often come You may also be lucky enough to see a White-Bellied Sea Eagle as you approach the islands. It has a slow, gliding flight with the wings held in a shallow "v" as it soars, searching for sea-snakes, fish and crabs swimming near the surface. As you near the archipelago, the triangular silhouette of Rakata. The island takes its name from Krakatau's largest volcano, of which it is the remaining half. Cloud often covers the peak down to about 550 m, and above this height the forest begins to take on a different character. Mosses festoon the branches of trees, which are stunted at the peak. To the south (near the left side of the island as you approach) is a bay in which a settler named Handl lived with his family for a few years from about 1915. There have been no other permanent inhabitants on the island since 1883, although fishing boats visit the archipelago regulary, the waters within the island group often being calmer than the open sea.

Panjang, formally called Land island, and some times known as Rakata Kecil, was never part of Krakatau, but was once a part of Krakatau's huge predecessor "Acient Krakatau" Like Rakata and Sertung, it was covered in tens of meters of hot ash in August 1883, and this has been eroded over the past century into v-shaped gulleys separated by sharp ridges. Like the other two islands, it is now covered in forest. Some of the valleys are now "hanging" because the ash cliff has been cut back by the action of the sea so that the valley floor now opens at a considerable height above the shore. To your right, on the south western point at Panjang, the lava rock of "œancient Krakatau" can be seen near the base of a small cliff.

Now, to your left as you round its northern point, Rakata's huge vertical cliff towers above you. Again, towards its base, the layers of Ancient Krakatau's laval rocks may be seen, with ash layers between them, evidence of successive eruptions centuries ago, Casurainas (cemara) cling to the cliff, they cannot tolerate shade, and on most other parts of the island they have been overgrown and thus eliminated by other forest trees. Landslides are frequent on this cliff face is not the former vent of the volcano, but a landslide channel from close to the summit. Piles of rubble, the result of landslides, can be seen at the base of the cliff. At the far end of the cliff are the black rocks of  Zwarte Hoek. where there is a small beach

As the boat moves under the cliff, remembered that you are traveling over the submerged caldera of Krakatau. The cliff continues almost vertically under the water below you to a depth of about 200 meters. To your right, if the sea is calm, you may be able to see Bootsmanrots behind you. These rocks, often with seabirds, usually terns, roosting on them are a favorite spot for shark  fisherman, and shark's fins can occasionally be seen cutting the waters over the caldera. The rock are Krakatau's caldera rim which projects above the water at this point. Apart from Rakata itself, they are the only other piece of Krakatoa visible above water today. Of course, no one, could have been in this place before August 1883. Your boat is travelling along a line which at the time would have been covered by thousands of tons of the island Krakatau, which extended far to the north beyond the island Anak Krakatau to your right.

Moving past Zwarte Hoek and heading towards Sertung, you will notice, beyond the point to your left, a long sandy beach where the green turtle (Chelone Mydas) nests, and just out to sea two large isolated '"stacks" one of which has been perforated by the sea. These light-coloured cliff stacks, and the cliffs along Turtle Beach, are composed of ash deposited in the 1883 eruption , and give you an idea of the depth of  ash that covered the island at that time. The stacks have been able to persist because they are on a basement of lava which has prevented the sea washing them away. Ahead is Sertung, the third member of the trio of islands that are remnants of the huge "Ancient Krakatau" volcano. Sertung was enlarged by Krakatau's 1883 eruption to more than twice its size, and is now virtually composed of ash from that eruption.

To your right is the presently active volcanic island, Anak Krakatau, "child of Krakatau". This is an apt name. for the island emerged from the sea in 1930 from Krakatau caldera, roughly in line with its three former volcanic craters and between the sites of the two northern ones. The lava field you see is composed of a number of different flows, the most recent one (1980) being the darkest. Lava did not appear until some time in the 1960s, and this was important in protection the rest of the island from erosion by the southwestern currents.  Before the 1960s Anak Krakatau had emitted ash only, but at such a rate and frequently enough for it to  grow, in spite of the marine erosion.

As you pass north along the east coast of Sertung, you will see the PHPA post in the trees near the shore, below what is probably the only permanents spring on the islands. A few hundred meters beyond the PHPA building the vegetation changes quite abruptly from mixed secondary tropical forest to a Casuarina (cemara) woodland. The cemara are  growing   overy young part of Sertung's, its narrow tongue or 'spit'. The spit has been formed by the sea wearing away the ash cliffs of Sertung's  west coast, and the currents carrying the material to Sertung's northern point and depositing it there. The spit is "moving" the beach that you see is being added to, and if you have time to walk the 100 meters or so across the narrow neck of the  spit you will see that the west cost is being cut back by the surf. So the cemara trees, which were also an early stage in the colonisation of Rakata by plants, are never subject-ed to shade by other forest trees because the "spitâ" on which they grow never becomes old enough for the other trees to establish themselves. In fact, at the present rate of movement, no particular point on the spit can ever become more than 10 to 20 years old before becoming part of the west cost, and being washed away.

As you leave Sertung and move back towards the northern foreland of Anak Krakatau, with Rakata's cliff looming up beyond in the middle distance, you are travelling over the northern end of the submerged  remains of Krakatau itself. Anak Krakatau is large barren, being made up of ash fields or lava, but on the northern foreland you can see a number of cemara trees and an extensive grass land os "alang - alang" and wild sugarcane. This grassland was a very early stage (before the cemara) in the plant colonization of the other islands, and the process is being repeated here on Anak Krakatau. Moving around to Anak Krakata's landing beach on the eastern foreland, you see more cemara woodland-this foreland is at a later stage of plant succession than the northern one.

Going ashore, you will notice other trees and saplings here and there among the cemara and wild sugarcane the forest is beginning to change to mixed secondary forest. Two species of fig trees are present, and they were first seen fruiting in 1985. There are three species of bats on the island (of a total of 11 on the archipelago), two kinds of Dog-faced fruit Bat and a Rousette . All there are fig eaters. Also two species of fruit-eating pigeons (Pink-necked Pigeon and Cuckoo Dove) as well as the Yellow-vented Bulbul and the striking, yellow and black, black-napped Oriole now live on the island. These birds and bats spreads figs by drooping or excreting their seeds, and probably were responsible for bringing the fig species to the Krakataus from the mainland, and to Anak Krakatau from other islands. They will probably bring more fig species to Anak Krakatau, and the change towards mixed forest is likely to accelerate in the next few years.

You may see the bright yellow breast of the tiny Olive-backed Sunbird as it seeks nectar and insects, clicking as it goes, and perhaps, its nest hanging from a cemara branch. Keep a lookout also for another very small, yellow-breasted bird, the Flyeater, flying from branch to branch in the cemara, or a small flock of a large bird, the white-breasted Wood-swallow, perhaps six or seven of them perching together along a high cemara branch. Almost Kingfisher, greenly-blue  with a white "collar". This is one of the most successful colonists on this islands. It makes nest holes in the large  spherical termite nests that you see here and there in the cemara trees, and noisily and aggressively defends its nest-site from other intruding birds, such as the wood-swallows.

Only  about 14 hectares of Anak Krakatau are vegetated, and you will get an idea what a small part of the island this is if you climb to the marker on the rim of the outer ash-cone, a strenuous walk, to be attempted at mid-day only by the fit. Yet this small area of woodland support about 22 of the 36 species of land birds (not counting migrants) now know on the islands! So of the 36 land bird species that have colonized the islands from Java and Sumatra in the hundred years or so since 1883, 22 of them have managed to establish themselves on Anak Krakatau's eastern foreland in the past 30 years or so (Anak Krakatau's 952 eruption destroyed all its vegetation) There of the 9 species of reptiles on the islands have also become established on Anak Krakatau. The large, very common monitor (Varanus salvator) a relatively of the famous Komodo dragon, is a good swimmer and feeds on crabs and turtle eggs. The common Ceckhack Gecko , and the "flying" (really gliding) paradise Tress Snake, have also colonized Anak Krakatau, the last two probably by means of floating vegetation or logs, which you will have already noticed are common on the beaches. Only one of the 19 species of land snail on the islands has yet reached Anak Krakatau â€" it was first noticed on Rakata in 1933. There are rats on the archipelago " the Houses rat on Rakata , and the Country rat on Panjang and Sertung. Only one individual (a House rat) has ever been found on Anak Krakatau in 1985.

The Tokay (Gecko gecko), which is a gecko-eater, and the black eagle, python, and False vampire bat (which are also predator) are present on the other islands but  have not yet been found on Anak Krakatau, probably they have not colonized it because they do not yet maybe a sufficiently reliably food supply there. Also, several forest birds, such as the Brown-capped Woodpecker and Orange bellied Flowerpecker, which require large trees, have not yet colonized this island although they are  present on the others 

For the study of change, both physical and ecological change, the Krakataus are a natural laboratory-in fact two laboratories in one. Change both in the archipelago since 1883, and on Anak Krakatau since 1930, are being studied. So that this work is not made more difficult by artificial changes brought about by humans, please keep to the trails, do not wander about the archipelago with out a guide, and make sure that you neither bring to, nor take from the islands any living things (seeds, fruits, insects, etc). Please take yours refuse back with you, so that other visitors may enjoy the natural beauty and ponder on the fascinating history of this unique group of islands


Category: My files | Added by: dipa | Tags: krakatau, Mount, Indonesia, volcano, child krakatau
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