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Seraya Surprise 18 Mar 2007

Posted by cat64fish in Tales from the N2 bar.
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Slogging up and down a beach with your scuba gear and camera housing, struggling against big crashing waves and braving cold upwelling currents might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but that’s what we did in Seraya, Bali in March.

We arrived at the Scuba Seraya Resort on the day after arriving Bali, having spent a comfortable night at the Sindhu Mertha Guesthouse in Sanur, and a refreshing message at Rose Garden in Kuta.

The resort sits on quite large piece of beach front property, with intimate cottages or bungalow-style accommodation, right in front of a dive site called . As the friendly staff took charge of our luggage and gear, we had a good view of the big (huge) waves, driven by an off shore wind, crashing dramatically onto the black sandy shore. We were dismayed, but undaunted, as we discussed options with our guide (Menyun, again, from Bali Scuba), and waited for a break in the weather.

The little cottage we stayed in, set amidst our very own greenery.

The inside of the cottage – a decent sized room with 4-5 electrical outlets.

What you see when you enter the washroom.

The other half of the washroom.

We braved the waves just before lunch, getting in and out of the water using a system we developed during our first trip to Tulamben in Sep 06 (see writeup here). One diver gets in the water with just scuba gear, while the second diver brought the cameras, before entering the water with his gear. Coupled with the fact that the Seraya beach was sandy, rather than rocky (like in Tumamben), this made handling the equipment and dealing with the waves much easier.

Eunice trying to frolic in the waves!

Underwater, the waves had churned up the sand near shore to the point where it was like diving in Singapore – visibility was down to about 1m, and fine sand got into everything! Deeper down the shore, the waters were clearer, and scattered in the sandy sea bed were oases of life … rocks covered with sponges, clinging featherstars and scurrying shrimps.

Featherstars were all over, like this one, just clinging to whatever substrate they could find. Other animals find refuge in the spiny, feather arms, like this clingfish.

A pair of Periclimenes colemani (Coleman’s Commensal Shrimps?). The female was carrying eggs, but they are not easy to see in this image.

Getting out was the reserve process of getting in … and quite a scary situation, as wobbly legs unused to carrying so much weight on our backs and waist high waves could easily topple a diver and roll him (or her) around the beach like so much sand!

It was during the beginning of the night dive, as we were entering the water when, in an effort to run ahead of a wave coming in, that I pulled a muscle on my left calf. Bugger, it hurt like hell! And I thought that my diving stint at Seraya was at an end.

Luckily, with a lot of TLC from my dive buddy Eunice, an anti-inflammatory cream from the scuba shop, calmer weather, and a super-efficient Menyun, I managed to continue diving, hobbling my way into the water with Menyun carrying my tank to me in the water. Luckily as well, the pulled muscle didn’t affect my finning, so I was able to move as fast as the others in the water.

Two days of chancy weather, and we were gritting our teeth in frustration – we’d yet to see all the wonderful things others had seen here. Even so, Menyun managed to find us enough critters to keep us occupied. Harlequin Shrimps, Boxer Crabs, mantis shrimps, and octopus or two …. and nudibranchs out and about doing their thing.

A pair of Harlequin Shrimps – the larger female on the left is carrying eggs under her belly.

Two Tasseled Crabs (Lybia tesselata) waving anemones which they carry like pom-poms in their claws for protection.

In the end, on the last day, the weather calmed down sufficiently for us to see the great opportunities Seraya had to offer. The water clarity increased dramatically, and the creatures started coming out.

Two Cuttlefish mating …….

….. Two nudibranchs mating (they are apparently an undescribed species from the genus Thecacera) ……

….. A Jorunna rubscens laying its egg mass ……

… and tiny, tiny flabellid nudibranch laying its eggs.

We were happy …. at least we managed to catch a glimpse of the richness of the place, despite our bad start. One thing that was great about the package, was the use of Nitrox in about 70% of our dives – not only did this mean slightly longer bottom times, but best of all, we felt little of the after-dive aches and pains usually associated with diving on air.

The food at Seraya was great too (no pictures because we ate it up so fast!), especially the crispy, toasted bread slices and warm, soft rolls … yummy with soap and butter.

We never did get to try out the pool at the resort, as conditions got so good on the last day that we went ahead and did three dives before rushing to pack our still dripping gear into the van for the 2-hour return trip to Sanur.

Before I knew it, all our gear was brought to Bali Scuba to be dried (as much as possible, anyway), and we were on our way to Rose Garden (again) for a final round of massage. All too soon, it was time to pack up, and make our way back to Singapore and the daily grind … but we will be back !!

More images of our trip to Seraya can be found here.