Diving

Explore the Tropical Sea by Scuba Diving

If ever there was an image that sums up the magic of diving, it is that of a coral reef. Although coral reefs are the most famous feature of tropical seas, these warm clear waters have much more to offer, such as mangrove swamps, sea-grass beds, and vast tracts of open ocean.

Warm Belt

Tropical waters occupy the region within the “20A�C isotherm”-the irregular hand of water north and south of the equator that seldom drops below 68A�F (20A�C). Although undeniably appealing to the diver, they actually present a less attractive environment for marine life. The warm equatorial sun heats the upper layers of the water column, creating a marked temperature difference between the surface water and deeper colder water. Such temperature stratification prevents mixing of the water column, so nutrients are not passed up from deeper water. Marine animals and plants have therefore had to adapt and evolve numerous strategies to cope with the lack of nutrients in the water around them. Perhaps the most remarkable of these is the coral reef. Primary production-the formation of organic compounds from inorganic material is up to 100 times greater in coral reefs than in open tropical waters, and although they cover only 0.2 percent of the ocean environment, they are home to 25 – 30 percent of all fish species.

The reefs of the Indo-Pacific are the richest marine environments on Earth. Their beautiful structure and bright colors, combined with the splendor and variety of animals that inhabit them, make reefs irresistible to divers, and it is no coincidence that many of the world’s best dive sites tire found on coral reefs.

Coastal Nurseries

Tropical waters are also home to mangrove swamps and sea grass beds, both arguably as important as coral reefs in the overall health of tropical seas. There are 10 species of mangroves – tropical trees and shrubs that grow in shallow and intertidal coastal waters – and they form flooded forests that act as nurseries for various reef and open-water fish species. The 50 species of sea grass form “meadows’ in shallow waters that are feeding grounds and nurseries for many fish species. The eradication of sea grass beds and mangrove swamps around the world is a real concern, with undeniable impacts on coastal ecology as animal populations are denied crucial areas for tire growth and development of their young.

Reefs Under Threat

Coral reefs worldwide are under intense pressure. The continued development of coastal regions has caused silty water to run into the seas, smothering these delicate systems, and, coupled with the damage caused by destructive fishing methods, it is thought that up to 90 percent of reels have been impacted by humankind. There is also evidence that rising water temperatures are causing a phenomenon known as bleaching, which is fatal to reefs. This occurs when the coral polyps eject the minute algae that sustain them as a response to stress.

Diving a reef can be the highlight of a diver’s life, but we have a very real responsibility when exploring reefs not to harm or disrupt them in any way. A considerate approach is vital if we are to preserve these wonderfully vibrant ecosystems.

Scuba Diving in Bali – The Island of the Gods

On simply hearing the name, Bali evokes visions of tropical paradises. Writers keep inventing adjectives to describe Bali but few can surpass the words of Indian prime minister Pandit Nehru who named the island “the morning of the world”. A world born out of the sea, delivered by the power of volcanic force. There is a deep world, a world within, the true morning of the world, a whole different world that belongs to Bali. A blue world of tranquility, of stillness, a world that lets you forget the world…

As Indonesia’s most famous tourist destination Bali has remained a somewhat underestimated diving destination. To believe this would be a mistake.

If you dive Bali you will see that the diversity of Bali’s reefs are awesome. When diving in Bali, allow yourself to be surprised. As far as diving in Bali is concerned, Bali’s greatest charm is its wide range and variety of dive sites. Shipwrecks, drop offs, sand slopes, black volcanic seascapes, roaring currents and quiet bays… all tastes are accommodated.

There are plenty well maintained diving facilities on Bali.

There are four main diving areas in Bali that you can explore.

Nusa Penida:

Nusa Penida and the neighboring island of Nusa Lembongan offer some of the finest Bali diving. Nusa Penida is a large island located in the southeast of Bali, across the Badung Strait. The Balinese consider this dry, rough island to be haunted, but it is the diving around this Island of Bali, in it’s clear, current swept reefs that’s the main attraction.

With its adjacent deepwater trenches, the main attraction at Nusa Penida is the common encounters with the curious and otherwise very rare oceanic sunfish, or Mola Mola, that come close to the reef to visit cleaner stations.

There are a great many dive sites to choose from. In the season we can try to find the illustrious Mola Mola, but the heartland of Nusa Penida diving offers stunning visibility, healthy reefs, and pelagics. And you won’t even have to swim a lot here, as almost every dive is a drift dive.

Currents are often strong because the islands lie right in the path of the Indonesian Throughflow. The Lombok Strait separates the Indonesian islands of Bali and Lombok, it is the second most important strait through which water is exchanged between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The best times to dive Nusa Penida are when the tides peak at slack and high, when water movement is the least.

Amuk Bay (Candi Dasa & Padangbai):

Amuk Bay, with the villages of Padang Bai in the south and Candi Dasa in the north, is about 6 km across and located along the south side of Bali’s eastern point. Close to Candi Dasa there are two larger islands, Tepekong and Biaha, as well as an area with small rocks called Mimpang or Batu Tiga.

The islands in this bay are actually little more than current swept rocks, and have an untamed beauty. The bay, which is fed by the rich south Bali upwelling, hosts’ sharks, mola mola and schools of fish, making these Bali dive sites quite exciting.

If you are interested in special small critters you should be diving around Padang Bai. This tiny inlet is fringed with reef that starts as a shallow ledge at a depth of ten meters. Macro fans will have fun diving around Padang Bay and the Blue Lagoon, where all manner of critters can be found in the shallows. The sheltered bay is also an ideal location for night diving.

The diving in this area is astonishingly rich. There are also several excellent dive sites for sharks, rays, large schools of fish and this is one of the places where Mola Mola ocean sunfishes are regularly sighted from August until October. Water temperatures are quite chilly, there is always a bit of surge but visibility is normally quite good.

Amed and Tulamben:

Tulamben, home of the famous WWII wreck, is the most known and the best loved diving site in Bali. Tulamben Bay, is situated in the world’s richest marine biogeography zone with more than 2500 different species of fish and 700 corals. Situated on the northeast coast, the bay receives very plankton rich water from the major ocean current that moves from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and vice versa.

Amed is located on the northeast coast of Bali, about 2.5 hours drive from Kuta. From a landscape point of view, Amed is much prettier than Tulamben. You will see many rice fields along the way, traditional salt-panning and also sandy beaches as opposed to Tulamben’s stony beaches. The diving in Amed is still untouched and you will encounter few fellow divers on these dive sites.

There are also excellent dive sites that extend from Tulamben to Amed and almost all the way to Bali’s eastern tip, some recently discovered, many still waiting to be explored. The black sand bottom offers a dramatic backdrop for the amazingly rich fish life.

Menjangan Island:

The reefs of Northwest Bali around Menjangan Island are some of the most protected on the island.

Clear calm waters, a mysterious old wooden shipwreck, and rugged, gorgonian covered walls in excellent condition, make Menjangan Island on Bali’s northwest coast, a premier dive site.

About 14 dive sites to choose from with clear water and calm conditions. Menjangan is part of the West Bali National Park. It are the rugged gorgonian covered walls that make this island Northwest Bali’s premier dive site.

The coral walls around Menjangan drop vertically to between 30-60 meters, before gradually sloping outwards. The reef surface is very rugged with caves, grottoes and crevasses breaking up the coral walls, textured with little nooks and crannies. Gorgonians of many kinds reach large sizes here, and huge barrel sponges are abundant. Soft corals blanket the colorful walls all the way down.

Menjangan’s western tip holds a deeper, but equally interesting dive on an old wooden shipwreck. Called the “Anker” it is just off the island shore, close to a small Park Service dock and guard post.

More to the north, Gilimanuk offers some fantastic muck diving in Secret Bay and South there is an equally interesting muck site at PJ’s.

Now at last you can discover Bali’s underwater world in a personal and complete way with Dive Around Bali. Feel free to contact me for more information.

Michel De Ruyck.

Introduction to Diving Problem Solving Skills

Diving is a safe sport if you follow the rules, avoid taking unnecessary risks, and always dive with a buddy. But that does not mean you will never encounter difficulties during a dive. Learning how to anticipate and solve problems is part of becoming an accomplished diver.

Anticipating Equipment Problems

It is rare that equipment fails during a dive, but you should nevertheless take great care when assembling, storing, and servicing your gear. After all, this is what keeps you alive underwater, so it is worth spending time and money on keeping it in perfect working order.

Consider “what if” situations ahead of a dive, and think through how you will deal with the failure of any element of your gear. Do you have a spare if your buddy is not close by? Your regulator should always have an octopus second stage, to use as a backup in case your main second stage fails.

Free and Buoyant Ascents

If you run out of air, locate your buddy and follow the procedure below: If you cannot find your buddy, you will need to make a rapid “free ascent” by finning to the surface. This can be aided by ditching your weights, but be ready for a sudden increase in buoyancy. Breathe out slowly during ascent to prevent lung expansion injury. If, however, you have a little air left, you can make a more controlled “buoyant ascent.” Let some air into your BC to kick-start your ascent, and tilt your head back to watch for the surface. Again, breathe out during the ascent, control your ascent rate by venting air from the BC, but not so much that you lose buoyancy. Do not rise any faster than your exhaled bubbles. At the surface, signal to boat cover immediately. If there is no boat, swim to the shore. Your buddy will need to be found and, as you have ascended without safety stops, you will need to be monitored for DCS.

Making Emergency Lifts

If your buddy is unconscious or injured, keep their regulator in their mouth and perform a buoyant lift to get them to the surface. This means holding on to your buddy’s harness as you ascend, using their BC to adjust buoyancy for both of you. Alert any boat cover once at the surface. If your buddy is not breathing, artificial ventilation (AV) may be needed until medical help arrives. If there is no cover, or if you are close to shore, you may decide to tow your buddy to safety. Both towing and AV require special training; if your dive training did not cover them, a life-saving course is recommended.

Overcoming Panic

If you feel panic coming on, alert your buddy, stop moving, and steady your breathing. If your buddy panics, reassure them with hand signals but observe them from a safe distance, since a flailing arm can knock your regulator from your mouth or injure you. When they have calmed down, hold their hand or arm, make sure their regulator stays in place, and remain close until normal breathing resumes.