cher chow 周馥溢

Nusa Penida

June 05, 2018

As promised, here are the photos from my dives at Nusa Penida on the first full day at Bali. It was the one thing I definitely had down in my mind that my brother and I had to do. For one, why wouldn’t you?! The clearest blue water fed from the Indian Ocean and *fingers crossed* biodiversity. Two, and most importantly, Bali’s home to a frequenting population of manta rays, which are on. the. bucket. list! Reef mantas (Mobula alfredi, previously Manta alfredi) come to Manta Point from the open ocean to get cleaned by cleaner wrasses while getting a good meal of plankton. 

Tim and I got up extra early to get picked up for our ride to the dive boat at Sanur, where we met our divemaster and instructor from Manta Manta, Simon and Stuart. The dive site was a good 40 minutes’ choppy ride out to Nusa Penida. Bali, Nusa Penida, and neighboring Lombok form an island chain and spaced relatively close together, so the oceanic water gets “pressed” (I hope hydrologists aren’t reading this simplified explanation!) through these channels. Because of this, the conditions aren’t exactly calm but does mean the water is crystal clear. 

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Our departure area at Sanur. It was so very hot but what a view!

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Stuart (left) and Simon (right) in blue next to two other divemasters I didn’t get a chance to talk to. I had a great chat about my job diving in much colder water back at home, and Simon speaks Bahasa quite fluently! 
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When Nusa Penida came into view, it was the most incredible granitic cliff faces covered with trees. They had me wondering how trees grew in such a tough spot…

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Sadly, the dive at Manta Point wasn’t quite as fruitful as I wished. My rental GoPro wasn’t cooperating with me and the mantas didn’t show up. But, it was still above average compared to the sites I’m used to in Hong Kong! And it’s a fun dive, not for work, which meant I could get as distracted as I wanted by photogenic fish.

We gave up trying to wait around for mantas to come in, so we headed to Crystal Bay after lunch. My dive instructor told me Crystal Bay had a reputation for insane down currents if I were to chase a Mola mola (you know those gigantic fish that look like they got chopped in half?) for a photo op. Thanks, dude. Luckily, I knew it wasn’t Mola mola season, so just a laid back dive away from the reef’s wall edge where the currents would be. And guys. It was named Crystal Bay for a reason! The water was truly crystal clear and quite blue.

Because I had a GoPro on me, I decided to make a little video to show you the reef! I wish I shot a little more, but I got stung by a patch of anemone while filming the clownfish in current. Stills were relatively safer after that.

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 The cone-shaped bommie that slopes down into a reef wall. It was primarily constructed by these massive corals that had an odd bumpy look to them. Like they wanted to branch to stuck with lumps instead?
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We started the dive going from the sandy bottom towards the bommie.
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Some parts of the wall showed quite a lot of coral damage like this photo. The brownish red parts are all coral rubble covered in encrusting algae.
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I unsuccessfully harassed a family of clownfish in this anemone patch and came away with a pretty nasty anemone sting on my ankle.
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An Acropora sp. colony near the end of bleaching. They’re extremely recognizable because of the branching pattern and pressed polyps.
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I did not realize how pink the algae and sponges were until color editing! The anthias here match them well.
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The amount of species in this one photo is quite impressive, but also note none of these are the “meaty” fish that are top predators on a reef like this.  Considering how fishing continues to be a dominant source of income for Indonesia, the more ornamental “skinny” fish get to be left alone.

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Boy am I glad I don’t have to do species counts here. Just look how many there are at the top of the bommie!
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If you squint, you’ll see a pretty big shoal of blue chromises in the center!

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And of course, a selfie with the buddies! I hope you enjoyed the photos!