Known for his easy nature and wonderfully detailed dive briefings, we speak to Kazzueni from Aqua Blu on his favorite dive spots, what diving in East Indonesia means to him, and his secret for spotting the most minute of sea creatures.
1) Hi Kazz, please tell us a bit about yourself.
My full name is Kazzuaeni, I am the sixth of eight brothers and sisters. I am originally from East Lombok. I moved to Sumbawa when I was twelve years old where I went to junior and senior high school. I lived with my eldest sister who supported my education. In 1996 I graduated with a one-year diploma at the Hotel and Tourism Training Center Bali, where I studied to become a professional tour guide. Discipline, appearance, and being knowledgeable are the most fundamental aspects we learned.
2) What is your experience in hospitality prior to Aqua Expeditions?
I worked at a luxury resort in Moyo Island for 13 years from 1997 to 2010. I worked at the beach club initially, serving food and drinks. I also took guests snorkeling, sailing on the catamaran, and taught them how to windsurf. In January 2000, I started to dive and I became a dive instructor in 2004. During the years 2000 to 2010, I had cross-training during the low seasons with different departments including housekeeping, carpentry, front office, accounting, bar and restaurant, kitchen, and also trained to become a masseur. I had the opportunity to become a cruise director in rotation on liveaboards to and from Moyo and Komodo. From October 2010 to 2019 I joined a luxury resort dive team, working with 27 dive instructors from many different nationalities and backgrounds.
3) What motivated you to become a professional diver? What do you like the most about this activity?
It has been my dream to be a professional diver for many years. This job combines mental, physical, and physiological skills with knowledge, love, and care for nature as well as being responsible for ourselves and customers. Meeting people from different nationalities, with different interests and hobbies, and the challenge to encourage others to dive are some of the main reasons why I wanted to be an expert diver.
4) In your opinion, what makes East Indonesia such an attractive destination for divers?
The Indonesian archipelago is located in the Coral Triangle, from the Philippines to the Solomon Islands, down to Australia and west to Sumatra. The corals, reef topography, and fish variety make East Indonesia one of the top diving destinations in the world. Another reason: Raja Ampat is the heart of the world’s marine biodiversity.
5) Do you have a favorite diving spot? Where is it and what is so special about it?
It is hard for me to mention one but I can name two dive sites I really enjoy. In Komodo, I like Batu Bolong. Located in central Komodo, the reef sticks out like a needle emerging from the sea and is surrounded by thousands of fish and stunning corals. This dive site can be very challenging or easy to dive depending on the current situation. In Raja Ampat, I like The Four Kings. It’s a formation of four pinnacles where the reef contour is mind-blowing. Many pelagic fish can be seen here like sharks and mantas.
6) What would you say has been the most memorable underwater encounter you’ve had while diving the seas of East Indonesia?
The most memorable encounter while diving the East Indonesian seas was when I saw an oceanic manta ray. Manta rays, also known as the “million-dollar fish” are very rare. I have seen them many times, but not the oceanic manta — every diver asks for it. When I saw them for the first time in my life, I was so delighted. Raja Ampat is known as the only territory in Indonesia where we can find them at cleaning stations and dive among them.
7) What sea creatures can Aqua Blu guests expect on a diving or snorkeling excursion?
There are lots of them for example reef sharks, manta rays, cuttlefish, tuna, trevally, over 40 different species of butterfly fish, turtles, amazing corals, and much more!
8) We are told you have a special skill for spotting the diminutive pygmy seahorse which measures less than 2cm, what is your secret?
My secret for finding the pygmy seahorses is knowing their habitat and understanding the characteristics of each pygmy. I have seen around five different species of pygmy sea horses and all of them live in different habitats. Bargibanti pygmy is the most common, they live on the sea fan for years. Usually, this type of pygmy can be found along the edge of the fan.
9) You have another skill that you unveil when presenting water excursion briefings aboard Aqua Blu. Can you share a little bit more?
Before every dive, snorkel, or kayak, we brief our guests about the site we are visiting. I love sharing my knowledge about each of these sites, so I actually draw them out on a whiteboard while presenting. They are not just drawings of the site but also indicate the up-to-date current directions, key features, type of fish we’ll be able to see, the topography, where we will enter, and the direction of the excursion. The team used to use map laminates, but I think with the drawings they can be so much more fun and engaging. I like to make little notes to personalize it for our guests.
10) What makes a trip onboard Aqua Blu different from any other experience in the region?
It’s our product that makes the difference. We are offering premium experiences to our guests and at the same time supporting local communities and taking care of the environment. For example, we contribute to the communities’ income sources by showcasing their local traditions to guests during our itineraries.
11) What are some of your hobbies and interests?
I like nature very much, my main interest is to help the local people get a better understanding of the importance of keeping nature in balance, clean from plastic trash, with no pollution…it is my biggest hope.
12) What are you looking forward to the most for our return at sea?
I am looking forward to seeing the ship and all of the crew members. I also can’t wait to show guests our product and give them our best and most genuine service.