Saturday, September 30, 2006

Weather change

Today, I spent two hours over lunchtime in lobster bay. Water was rough, turbid and the visibility was down to about one meter. Bummer.
Deep diving was impossible due to visibility, but I got to have some good fun on the rocks.

The Highest Visibility in Lobster Bay

I spent the late afternoon 4:30 - 6:00, in Lobster Bay. It has not rained in a couple of days, and the visibility was amazing. I have not seen water like this in Hong Kong, visibility must have been close to 10 meters. This allowed for great snorkeling, as I could actually see the ground from the surface.

Among other fishes, I saw some Blue streak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus), who did not want to hold still for a picture.

Some of the free diving equipment, I used for the first time. The buoy is from Decathlon. It works great, has some weights to keep it in an upright position, and several D-rings t attach equipment, like my camera. Christel’s dad made a little anchor from stainless steel, on a 10m PP line. When snorkeling around, I snap the anchor to my weight belt, and thus drag the buoy. The weight belt is also new, from Beuchat, Marseilles style. It is essentially a real belt, made from thick black rubber, with a big buckle. The belt fits really well, does not travel up or down, and is elastic enough to allow for breathing. However, it is a bit uncomfortable in the naked skin.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Family Dive

The third dive took us to a more sheltered area, with warm South East Asian Waters. Two opposing currents allowed a friendly drift dive along a great wall, full of colorful fish with a great visibility. With a far more agreeable temperature, we stayed for a full hour. After all the rough diving this allowed to make piece with the Balinese sea again.

Second dive: Crystal Bay

The second dive, at Crystal Bay, was even colder. Indeed, ridiculously so. The top 10 meters were about 23 degrees, the bottom, was again around 16. This was simply not divable. Without the hood, the area around the aorta became burning cold, and the dive would have lasted a dangerous 15 minutes. So I asked the guide to stay above the thermocline, and we spent a total of (still very cold) 45 minutes, looking for Mola Molas. These are said to come to about 330 meters at this time of the year, ad even all the way to the surface. This is amazing, given that these animals spend the rest of the year at depths of about 300 meters. However, we were late in the day, and could not find any large fish. I guess the low visibility did not help much. So overall, the dive was cold but lacked any sort of event.

The thermocline painted amazing pictures of divers, at only about 3 meters distance. I was on top, the picture was taken right through the zone where the different layers of water clash.

Alex the freezing Kangaroo

First Dive on Sunday

Sunday morning, we set out with Bali International Diving Professionals, to scuba dive at Nusa Penida. Our guide Kaddi (Catty?) briefly laughed when we said we brought shorties only. So he gave us 3mm long suits instead. Little did we know how we were going ot freeze.

The first dive took us to Manta Point. The boat ride took about an hour, and I generously donated my half digested breakfast to the sea gods. Manta point, as the name indicates was full of Mantas. We saw the first two directly from the point. Until I jumped in the water, I was really positive (despite my stomach). The water however quickly changed my optimism. The surface was about 22 degrees, the lower areas around 17. With a 3mm suit, no gloves and no hood, this was clearly way to cold.

Visibility was low; we nearly missed to see the family of about 20 bluespotted stingrays below us.

However, when we finally did find the mantas, it soon became clear that all the pain was worth it. Even though, we actually got to touch the mantas, they were too fast to take close-ups, and visibility did not permit any shots over more than 2 meters. Still, very impressing.

the first manta

more of it (see the low viz)
Stingrays. There were a total of about 20 - 30, literally on top of each other.
and another manta

Balin On Land

The Hotel was far to luxurious, and a steal for 80 us$/day. Due to the recent bombings, tourism in bali runs at 30 - 40%. I don't care about the hotle chains, but feel really sorry for the local guides, drivers and craftsmen. A pay cut of 60% would be a desaster for anyone.
The hotel, however was a palace, and we greatly enjoyed it.

So much fun with a UW camera.

I must have said something really stupid.

Before spending the Sunday scuba diving in at Nusa Penida, we spent one day exploring Ubud. The town was small, touristy but nice and had plenty of "wild life", in its monkey forest, a medium size park with semi-wild monkeys. They are reasonably friendly, but you should not let them climb on your head. Even the lap is dangerous, as the little fellow on the picture actually peed on my lap.
the park...
the monkeys
the bastard who peed on my lap
the hotel
the young