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Bali Safari, Jul 07 4 Mar 2008

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
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A long over due posting about our third trip to Bali in 9 months! Might be time to seriously consider getting a house there!

This time, we were a bit more ambitious, and planned for a 9-day tour de force of the Bali dives areas – PJ, Tulamben, Seraya and Nusa Penida. We even brought other people along, to spread the joy of diving in Bali around.


The usual and not so usual suspects – Eunice and me, Derek and Angela (taking the photo), Kelvin, Wei Ling – Shufen and Robin not in picture.

The trip started with just Derek, Angela, Eunice and myself diving in Puri Jati on the 13th. This was our first time to PJ, which was a 2.5 hour drive from Sanur. The entrance to the beach was one of the many side lanes branching off from the main road – I can only say that the vista before us was quite different from the “populated” roads we’d been traveling on. Rice fields to the right, a vineyard to the left, and the sea shore right in front, stretching to infinity (almost).

The local villagers were in the process of erecting changing room facilities – apparently enough people visited the site to warrant this costly concrete structure, unlike the bamboo-weave walls of the sole provision store and the huts in which the duck farmers took shelter in.


The up-and-coming changing room facilities.

The waves (as in our previous trips to Bali) were running high – but at least it was windless. We quickly geared up and made our cautious entry into the surf, one at time. Once we were all safely past the breaking surf, we descended past the murky top layer to relatively clear water near the bottom. As we made our way out of the surf zone, we had to focus on the diver nearby to avoid vertigo from the moving “dust clouds” that bloomed each time a wave hit the shore.

We could see many creatures struggling to stay in place or keep from being buried. Further away from shore, however, things were a little calmer, and encountered whole fields of single polyp corals, occupied by some really interesting creatures, such as ….


… the Mimic octopus (taken by Eunice) and …


… the Coconut octopus in a shell (taken by Eunice) …

After the dive, we explored the area (more to find a place to pee than a genuine desire to explore), and found the pond created by a freshwater stream that drained directly to the sea.

We ended our dives in the early afternoon when the waves got a bit too high, and made our way to the nearby [name of resort] where our very Balianse-style cottages were readied for us.


Eunice in her “Bali” outfit.

We confronted the waves again on the morning of the second day, but decided not to brave the 1-1.5m high waves pounding the beach. We took the easy way out and went instead to Secret Bay, just 45 minutes away from Puri Jati.

The water here, in contrast, was mirror clam. It was not, however, an ideal dive spot, being the site for a bunch of water-based activities – paddle boats, kayaks, motor boats and water scooters. The seascape was not very inviting either … as bits of plastic bags and rusting frames of unknown origin greeting us as we descended into the (very cold) water. Off to the left of our entry point, however, we encountered a smallish seagrass bed, with many, many synaptid sea cucumbers, some in amazing colours, like the orange one below.

Among the debris were several prominant pillar-like structures – which turned out to be “artificial reefs”. Excellent fish aggregating devices, these structures housed what must have been most of the fish population in the bay.


Delicate looking Ambon Cardinals of all sizes congregated around debris and the “artificial reefs”.


The “artificial reefs” were also home to cleaner fish, here seen servicing a catfish.


“Packed like sardines”, except these were catfish!

After we plumbed the depths of Secret Bay, we were off to Tulamben / Seraya, this time coming in from the north, instead of from the south. As always, Tulamben did not fail to disappoint … we met up with some old friends …..


“Two-face”, the grouchy grouper that hangs about on the wreck.

… and some new ones …


Chevron Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda)


A bright red allied cowrie

Seraya also held some new surprises for us, such as this rare “Tiger” shrimp. There was a smaller on next to it, but getting the two together in one frame was a bit of a challenge, what with the surge and cold water.


The “Tiger” Shrimp … a rare find that made our day at Seraya.

We ended our very short stay at this part of Bali and moved back to Sindhu Mertha in Sanur. Time for molas!!

We didn’t see many this trip, about one on each dive, and usually at a distance. I guess the molas were shy time round, but with the kind of divers visiting them, who can blame them?

Point in case was the next to last dive, when we spotted a mola in a cleaning position, which we approached with caution, so as not to scare it away. Just as we reached a comfortable viewing distance (safe for us, but maybe not for mola?), up swims this blond-haired monstrosity who pops a flash at the mola, startling it. Said blond-haired biped then had the cheek to turn to us, showing a thumbs-up sign. Sheesh!

Anyways …. some mementos of the trip.


Eunice and mola!


Eunice’s encounter with the mola.

More pictures from this trip at: Catfish’s Flickr and Mermate’s Flickr

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