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.
With each dive, it seemed that for every one species I had seen before, there were five new species to be discovered. The guides told me it was because I had begun training my eyes to see underwater wildlife the way they do, although I am nowhere near their level yet. It is almost an art, the way they can spot the smallest of creatures so easily, but I am fortunate enough to have them and my dive instructors teaching me some tricks.
On one of my practice guiding days, I accompanied a lovely guest on two dives for her birthday. Now the pressure was on, because she told me she did not want a big birthday party or anything, but just to have a really great dive. This had me a little worried, until she told me her favorite thing to see was fish, preferably very colorful ones. Well, if you have dove along the north coast of Penida, you will know that you have to do little other than drop into the water to see hoards of butterflyfish, parrotfish, triggerfish, and really any other color of fish you can imagine. So the fish did not disappoint. As we swam along, I would point out the most vibrant fish I could spot and she would do the same with me, squealing with excitement as she saw anemonefish poking their heads out of their homes or damselfish darting through coral. It was really a wonderful feeling, guiding someone so excited about the diversity of marine life and really just reignited the passion I remember feeling when I first began diving. I hope to never forget how fortunate I am to witness such rich biodiversity within every dive, and sharing that awe-inspiring feeling with another diver was so rewarding.
To expand on this growing respect for the oceans, I also attended the lectures hosted by the Marine Megafauna Foundation group that was situated just across from Two Fish. Twice a week they have a documentary or lecture about interesting topics in marine biodiversity and conservation and then on Thursdays they give a talk on Manta rays, their main area of research. The group is an outstanding role model for educating the public on marine life and how to protect it so I would recommend that everyone go check out the research they are doing and ways you can get involved!
So then, it was on to Bunaken. Now I thought living in Lembongan was a tropical paradise, but Bunaken is that times ten. The resort is quite secluded and is directly overlooking the ocean with an exquisite mangrove forest surrounding the beach. It really is the definition of a private oasis. It’s just too bad I’m here getting my DM instead of a vacation because when I arrived it was straight to work. My first full day, I began my wreck specialty where I not only got to see a very enthralling wreck, but also got to learn a bit about mapping, line laying, and even did some wreck penetration! I learned a lot in just my first couple days, thanks to my instructor Yvonne, who has also got me pretty interested in tec diving as well.
After this specialty, I had my first opportunity to assist on an open water course. While, I helped with an advanced course and a couple DSDs in Lembongan, I had yet to really see what the new OWC was all about. Again, this gave me flashbacks to my first time diving, although lake diving is nowhere near as exciting. I told the group of three students they were going to be so spoiled by having their first dives here in Bunaken, and nothing may ever compare. The course went smoothly, and it was such a joy to see how the group was so enthusiastic about diving. I also learned so much from the instructor Deon, not only about my role in the course as the DM but also about what to do should in pursue an instructorship.
Now, the diving here is beyond compare, and I am so excited to continue exploring all the sites, but I will be very American and say one of my favorite things about being here has to be the food! For lunch and dinner we get buffet style meals with local-caught fish, all types of rice, fresh fruits, and even dessert after dinner. I’m pretty sure by the time I leave for Lembeh I won’t be able to fit in most of my clothes anymore. I will let you know how much I’ve gained in the next two weeks!