KOMODO MERMAIDS | THE SERAYA NAMESAKE
The Seraya is located on Seraya Kecil Island, Komodo. For a long time we were bemused about where ‘Seraya’ may have come from. In Indonesian it translates to the simple word ‘while’. It wasn’t until a guest told us that it sounded very much like ‘sereia’ the Portuguese word for ‘mermaid’. And it all fell into place.
Indonesia has been occupied by the Dutch and the Portuguese. We see traces of their influence throughout the Indonesian language as well as place names across the region --e.g. ‘Flores’ Portuguese for ‘flowers’. We believe that the Portuguese named Seraya after discovering the once abundant Dugong population in and around the area. Furthermore, the dugong is a sirenian —an order of aquatic mammals that also includes three species of manatees.
As the ocean's largest herbivore, sirenians are also notable as the creatures that have long fuelled mermaid myths and legend across cultures. Seafarers would mistake these creatures for beautiful fish tailed women. Excerpts from Christopher Columbus' journal depicts visions of "three mermaids, which rose well out of the sea; but they are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits." ([8 Jan 1493] Voyages of Columbus 218). Earlier still, and on the other side of the world, 3,000 year old Tambun Cave drawings depict illustrations of dugongs. Living in legends for centuries, the dugong were called the "lady of the sea" in Malay.
The seagrass and stunning reef on Seraya Kecil Island (and neighbouring islands) provide a grazing sanctuary for these gentle giants. Their curiosity makes their encounters extra special, those lucky guests' leave with lifelong memories. The video below was filmed on 24 April 2020, this beauty coasted around on a dive right off the jetty. Truly magical.
The Seraya's on site dive centre, Seraya Divers, take guests on wonderful diving and snorkelling adventures both locally and into Komodo National Park. This part of the world offers unforgettable experiences with nature. If it isn't on your bucket list already, we suggest you put it up the top of your list.
Our Island Home: Seraya Kecil Island