Well, the last week of my divemaster course in Lembongan was bittersweet. I was so excited to finally journey to the breathtaking Bunaken I had heard so much about, but could not shake the melancholy I felt for leaving Nusa Lembongan Island. I did however get very lucky, as my last week there was full of guests and scuba diving courses, which meant a lot of daily fun diving for me! I thought eventually I might get tired of the reef walls along the north coast of Nusa Penida, or eventually my wonderment for Mantas might dwindle but I am now quite sure, that is impossible.
Bunaken is home to Asia’s best wall dives, making it easy to marvel at the sheer length and depth of them whilst overlooking the smaller creatures that live underwater in Bunaken – but this week, we’ve been fascinated by a tiny little marine dweller called candy crab or soft coral crab. Hard to spot as they mimic the soft coral they live on almost perfectly, it’s down to our guides’ amazing eyes to find them.
I had the pleasure of doing my Wreck and Night Diver specialities this week. Having not been on a night dive for over 5 years, I was reminded of why I loved it so much. Bunaken night diving is amazing; enormous crabs lurking in the reef, mandarin fish hiding in the corals, and beautiful Pleurobranch displaying their splendid purple colour in the torch light. On the final dive, when I was required to turn my torch off for 3 minutes, I was lucky enough to be diving on a near full moon, and found that my body movements activated the bioluminescence. This made the three minutes rather enjoyable, this also served as entertainment for a student taking her advanced course night dive who commented on the light show she witnessed whilst all was dark.
This week around the North Gilis, Lombok……. Peacock Mantis Shrimp seem to be the highlight of this week. They are all around the 3 North Gili Islands, we pretty much see at least one on every dive. This week however they seem to have taken over. With their beautiful multi-colours, playful characteristic and fast movements from one hole to another it has been a delight to keep bumping into these crazy shrimps.
Our guides and guests have been finding a lot of leaf scorpionfish this week underwater in Amed, and just like Josephs’ coat we’ve been finding them in an amazing technicolour array.
The leaf scorpionfish (Taeniatonus Tricanthus) is an ambush predator, often found sitting on acropora corals or hard bommies with glassfish, waiting for a small fish to accidentally swim in front of it.. then boom! No more small fish, smiling leafy 🙂 In yet another example of natures tricks not only does the leaf scorpionfish look like a leaf, it often sways around in swell or current to enhance the disguise. No wonder it’s small prey are easily fooled.
We have been witness to some very interesting reproductive behavior amongst Cephalopods when diving in Lembeh this week. Both Cuttlefish and Reef Squid have all been putting on quite the show! These two beautiful Crinoid Cuttlefish (distinguished by the spotted pattern on their lower arms) were caught mating beneath the overhangs of a colorful sponge, and were so caught up in the activity at hand that they didn’t seem to notice the gathering crowd of divers.
This week in Lembongan… Generally speaking the titan trigger fish in Lembongan are not an issue, and on the odd occasions where a diver gets a nip on the fin, it is only just a nip and away swims the diver and away swims the trigger fish. We do not get the crazy stories or reactions from trigger fish like they do in places like Koh Tao, Thailand. But in saying that, we are still visitor to their environment and they need to protect their nest.
While things around the resort calmed down a bit after Easter, our instructors Dion and Yvonne have been busy teaching right across the spectrum of PADI courses for the past few days. They’ve been introducing first time divers to the underwater world, explored shipwrecks and worked with our divemaster trainees to perfect their skills both underwater and on land. And they even managed to re-introduce a guest to the underwater world after a 13 year break who was most impressed by the number and size of turtles on our walls (picture by Alex Schade).
One of the first things my instructors mentioned to me when I arrived at Two Fish Divers is that in the diving industry plans change all the time. Safe to say that’s been very true for my Divemaster course. It’s not just down to dive centre logistics either, it can be simple things like a sinus infection which mean you spend rather more time with your books. Now that I’ve been back in the water for a few days, let me tell you what’s been going on.
So this week in South Lombok we have been finishing the trainee staffs rescue course and you can see in the picture me in the back with my handsome assistant Munahir and the three trainees in the front looking a little tired form all the rescue practice. Its been a tough week for the trainees being put through there rescue and now we are getting ready to send them over to Lembongan for the next part of their training. Good luck boys and we will see you soon!!
Gili Air, North Lombok we have had had a great week of spotting pygmy Seahorses. It is not often that we come across them, a bit up and down, they seem to like to move around the Gili Islands. Our spot was on a dive site called Gili Air wall. Kuss our instructor was the one who spotted it down at 18 Meters while taking his 4th dive of an Open water course. Around the Gilis we get both the common pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) and Denise pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus denise). The type Kuss spotted was the common seahorse. They are tiny with orange to red warts and spots. They live on sea fans the same colour as them to blend in and catch food from the water movement.
“Are the Flamboyant Cuttlefish in Lembeh Venomous or Poisonous? What about the Blue Ring Octopus, and the Spiny Devilfish: Venomous or Poisonous?”
These are commonly asked critter-questions at Two Fish Lembeh, especially during weeks like these when all of the above mentioned animals are making a regular appearance. Apparently the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is poisonous, not venomous, and the Blue Ring Octopus and Spiny Devilfish are both venomous. The difference between venomous animals and poisonous animals is how their toxin is delivered.
So there I finally was, arriving in Nusa Lembongan, to begin my much anticipated journey on the divemaster course. After planning the trip for months, and packing up everything I had in the States, I was ready to start what has so far been a delightful yet challenging adventure. The first couple of days were absolute paradise. I started with fun dives in the morning witnessing some of the most alluring marine life I have ever seen, then spent the afternoons reading by the pool, and watching the harlequin sunset over the beach. But of course, this couldn’t last forever, some work had to be involved in getting my divemaster certification.
This week in Lembongan… Our instructors have been busy teaching new students about the wonderful world of diving. We have had Rowan jumping between teaching an Open Water course with the help of Yayan, to teaching discover scuba divers. Bryce and Fred have been out panicking and screaming for help while teaching a rescue course. Yayan has popped over to Bali to teach another person Open Water course and Fred has just started a deep specialty course.
This week, we were joined by Ismail from Jakarta, who specifically travelled to our Bunaken resort to get started on the route to technical diving. So far, so normal. Asked about his diving experience to date, Ismail said he had completed just under 30 dives, prompting the question what time is the right time for a diver to start technical diving training.
We might not have been hunting for Easter eggs or chocolates, but we’ve been lucky enough to spot plenty of pygmy seahorses and ornate ghost pipefish around Bunaken this week. It’s definitely been a week for macro photography fans (thanks for the picture, Alex Schade) with our guides spotting numerous pregnant Pontohi Pygmy and Severn’s seahorses as well as ornate ghost pipefish all around the island.
We’ve enjoyed a huge variety of divers and a huge variety of life in Amed, Bali this week. With many of our guests asking to visit the USAT Liberty it was a chance for many of them to meet the resident Great Barracuda that lives there – I don’t think he has a name yet so any suggestions welcome 🙂 Other than that our guests and guides have been seeing a sample of the eclectic life that lives here.
A variety of Harlequins have made an appearance in Lembeh this week. Harlequin Shrimp, Harlequin Swimming Crabs and Harlequin Ghost Pipefish have been keeping our photographers and recreational divers busily entertained! Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocera elegans) are a highly sought-after sight in Lembeh, and are often found near their favorite food source: the blue Linkia Sea Star. Harlequin Shrimp feed on Linkia Star tube feet; they remove each tasty foot with their tweezer-like claws before cutting into the Sea Star and consuming it further. A few lucky Sea Stars are able to shed an arm when the Harlequin Shrimp first begin to feed, but others are not so lucky. Harlequin Shrimp have been known to slowly consume a living Sea Star for many days, sometimes going so far as to feed their Sea Star in order to prolong the life of their food source!
In the North Gilis, Lombok this week we have had an overload of various types of Eels. The white eyed moray eel’s have shown themselves the most. They don’t get particularly big but then again they are not shy either. Among the white eye morays we get here the giant moray eels, usually hanging out with the banded shrimps in a rock somewhere and the beautiful but ever so shy garden eels. All 3 we truly love to see, from the small garden eels to the big giant moray eels. I have noticed that almost all divers take a good 2-3 minutes just looking at them.
Dive Zone is back to school this week with a visit from one of the local schools who paid us a visit to practice speaking English and to learn about the tourist industry and what we do here at Dive Zone. An absolutely amazing day with laughter everywhere and a good chance for us to talk to the next generation about looking after their environment. We had a great morning with the kids making conversations, talking about diving, telling them about what we can see under the water.
This week in Lembongan…. It has been a week of large creatures. The start of the week was full of manta rays enthusiast which resulted in us heading, by request, to one of the manta dive sites 6 times over the course of 5 days. We are very understanding with our dive site picks and if that is what the people want, that is what the people get. On one day, we went to a manta dive site for all 3 of the dives. With all these trips to see mantas, our guests were not disappointed and they had the chance to see lots of manta rays as well as some other large creatures.
Sometimes, what divers see from the surface can be as impressive as what we see underwater. This week in Bunaken, an extraordinarily large dolphin pod kept us company not once, but two days in a row. We estimate the pod of around 100 at times, circling both boats. And even seasoned dive guides get a little excited by that.
This week in the north Gilis, we have had an overload of turtles!!! The north gilis being Gili Air, Gili Trawangan and Gili meno have been popular for decades now, tourists from around the world come to see the beautiful landscape, underwater paradise and either party or chill out. We can almost guarantee 90% chance of turtles on a dive in the north Gilis. We often run into both the Hawksbill Turtles and the Green sea turtles, sometimes growing to a size of 4-5 feet in length.
“Do you ever see “Madonna’s Bra” in Lembeh?” a guest asked at the Two Fish dinner table this week. After finally figuring out what exactly the guest was referring to, a whole conversation about hilarious critter names ensued. As it turns out, “Madonna’s Bra” is the common name for the rarely encountered Platyctene Ctenophore (pronounced “teen-a-for”). Though it resembles a sea slug as it attaches to the seabed, Madonna’s Bra is not in fact a sea slug at all. Similar to other animals in its Comb Jelly phylum, two stinging tentacles protrude from each mound of the “bra”. When unsuspecting planktonic animals get ensnared in the tentacles of the Ctenophore, the tasty morsel is drawn into the body of the animal for consumption.
Diving with the stars this week in south lombok we have the guys from Trans TV here shooting a movie “my trip my adventure”. All the staff were very excited when the stars of the movie arrived at the dive center especially Husnul our office girl, who i thought was going to faint when i got 1 of the stars david to take a picture with her [i think she had a bit of a crush on him]. Two of our dive guides also went out with the film crew to help out with some of the diving and they were very happy hanging around with the movie stars all day.