Tulamben, Bali May 2014
Returned to Liberty Dive Resort for the second of
four trips this year and just can’t stay away
from the place. There is something about liberty
that makes me feel like I am home as the staff
treats me as family. Everything about this resort
just works for me from the ease of diving to the
social side of just having a good night in the
restaurant. This trip once again coincided with
Galungan, which is a big ceremony in Bali that
falls every 210 days. The streets are lined with
Penjor that are bamboo poles adorned with
offerings to the returning spirits. A very special
time for the Balinese people that lasts for ten
days.
Day one
Started with the usual four dives with two at Seraya and two at Bali Hai. Visibility is not too bad and I expect to do some wide angle later
in the week but stuck with macro today. Found a really nice Anemone with three small Nemo type clown
fish so I intend to spend a couple of dives on this to try and get the shot. Colours were amazing. Also had
a couple of Pygmy Seahorses at 32m on the Bali Hai site but my eyes let me down a bit when shooting
these. I always find the first day as more of a settling day and will attempt the Pygmies at a later time.
Day two
Had breakfast and then headed over to Bali Hai for a couple of dives. I was keen to have another crack at
the small Anemone but the little critters were very elusive today. Had a bit of a look for some other
colourful Anemones but not a lot of luck. We moved a bit further east for the second dive and I spent a bit
of time with a pair of Moray eels that were very cooperative. It took a while before they were opening
their mouths in sync but I managed to get a few good shots.
We headed over to Milasti in the afternoon and struck a bit of current on
the first dive but Mega found a small blue ring octopus that only had one
small blue ring. We took off to the right for the second dive and found a
Mantis Shrimp with a full clutch of eggs. Background was not great but still
happy with the result. All the sites along this small bay are varied in what
they have to offer and are worth spending the time to explore.
Day three
We started the day at Seraya with what looked like a great morning but 15 minutes into the dive we were
hit with the strongest current I have seen here. The sand was lifted up and dragged across the ridges
leaving us with about one metre vis. Good side of the dive was the Boxer crab we found after all the
current dropped off. The second dive took us to the ridge we wanted to do on the first dive. Great, no
current and we found a fan with four Pygmies. This is a really nice ridge which I don’t think gets dived
much and it has a lot of big barrel sponges, gorgonians and quite a few anemones with fish. We came back
to Tulamben for our final two dives with the first a gentle sweeping dive around coral gardens. Mega
showed me a really nice purple anemone, which I will spend more time on and then we found a nice Moray
posing for the camera. Our final dive was on the wreck slope and was
pretty much uneventful apart from a few nudibranchs.
Day four
Galungan Day in Bali so I decided to have a rest day from diving and that is exactly what I did.
Day five
The first two dives of the day were had at Seraya. I wanted to shoot the pygmies we found earlier in the
week and thought today would be a good time. Due to the current we had previously we decided to visit
the cleaning station first before tackling the pygmy ridge and we were welcomed with some crazy currents
that were shifting several times through thedive but still managed some time with a really nice Harlequin
Shrimp. The second dive was spent with the pygmy seahorses and we still had some bad current but
managed a short spell to get a few shots. After lunch we headed over to
Coral Gardens and did a casual dive that covered to top of the reef as well
as the cleaning stations around 22 m. Finally the day was completed with
a visit to the 26m cleaning station in front of Tauch Terminal and things
were pretty uneventful here with little action to entice us to take any
shots.
Day Six
Today we headed off to a new site several kilometres west of Tulamben below a prawn farm and I was
happy we did. After 30 years of diving I finally saw a Mimic Octopus and managed a couple of shots even
though it wasn’t suited to my 100mm lens. It is quite a pretty site with the usual terrain of ridges and
gullies but because it hasn’t been dived much it had quite a large population of creatures. Not usually into
Nudibranchs but spent a bit of time with one that posed perfectly for my camera. Also found a tiny
Seahorse and a tiny Cuttlefish to top of a couple of good dives. Only had one more dive for the day and
that was back at the Coral Gardens as I was determined to get the purple Anemone with its resident fish
but was still plagued with surge due to the shallow site. Found another Anemone at 30 metres that was
quite good to shoot with its dark tendrils and white tips. The Anemone
Fish was barely poking its head through and I was pleased with the
results.
Day Seven
We went to another new site about halfway back to Culik and then down a narrow track through a creek
and onto the rocks. The first dive only offered up a couple of small octopus and was mainly sand but the
second dive took us to a ridge with a lot of fresh corals and sponges pretty much untouched by divers.
There were many small Frog Fish as well as a number of Doughnut Nudibranchs. We headed back to Liberty
for lunch and then made our way over to Seraya to have another crack at the Pygmy Seahorses at the
26m mark. We were blessed with no currents and we found a number of these yellow horses on the fan.
Spent most of the dive on these before heading back to the shallows for some time with a pair of tiger
Shrimp on some purple corals. The last dive of the day we headed over to
the left side of Seraya where we found some Harlequin Shrimp.
Day Eight
A three-dive day today and we went back to Bali Hai for the first two.
Conditions were perfect and I spent some time with the colourful Anemone
in the shallows before heading deep where Mega found three Bullocki
Nudibranchs that were perfectly posed. I spent a bit of time with these
and got, what I think, some pretty good shots. Also spent a bit of time with a boxer crab. We did have a
slight current on the first dive so we decided to walk about 100 metres up the beach and drift base to the
hut but the current shifted during the surface interval so we had a bit of a struggle. Found a tiny
cuttlefish in a yellow and black feather star and with its red colouring I managed some good contrasting
shots. The last dive was back to Coral Gardens and played with the purple Anemone a bit before drifting
down to the cleaning station with a stop at a Ghost pipefish on the way.
Day Nine
Switched to wide angle over night and as luck would have it we had a storm come through and with it
went the visibility. I still was able to spend some time with the Bump Head
Wrasse and was able to get in real close. Also managed to get a turtle
swim by within a metre of my camera so that was good. With the vis down
I canned the trip to Kubu Wreck and wentback to macro for the rest of the day. We went back to Seraya
for a couple of dives and the current was fairly light between 25 and 30 metres so this is where we spent
most of the time. A quick stop at the Pygmies and then a hunt around for a few nice shrimp. Found a nice
pair of Ghost Pipe Fish against a blue fan and that worked well so started the next dive on these as well.
We went back to a small mound that had a pair of Spotted Morays and fortunately they were there. Shot
back to Liberty for a quick Lunch and put on a wider lens to tackle the pair of Morays. The only problem
with this was the huge school of fish hanging around their mouths so hard to get a clear shot. Managed a
few shots though.
Day ten
Day off to spend time with friends.
Day eleven
Started with a dive at the macro site located right at the beginning of the
Seraya Bay. We were looking for a small Blenny we were told about but
were unable to find, as it was a bit rough. We did find some nice Leafy
Scorpion though and spent some time with them. The second dive of the day we headed back to Milasti to
shoot Doughnut Nudibranchs which were in abundance and larger than I have seen here before. The day
was finished with two great dives at Bali Hai. It was calm with no current and I spent a lot of time just
looking around and taking the site in. This site can, at times, be barren but can also produce some good
subjects. I also spent a bit of time on the last dive with a red Pygmy.
Day twelve
Only two dives as it was my last day of diving so I thought as we started the trip with Seraya we should
finish here as well and I am glad I did. I spent a fair bit of time with a couple of whip coral shrimps that
were situated in front of some really nice backgrounds resulting in some shots I was really happy with. We
had no current today so the trip was finished with some nice relaxing diving.
Once again on this trip I didn’t get to Amed but did try a couple of new sites and found some stuff I hadn’t seen before so all in all I had a
great trip. Coming back to Liberty Dive Resort for the fourth time was like coming home with all the staff greeting me like I was an old
friend and making me feel like I had not left. I once again thank Wayan and all the staff for looking after me and making me feel so
welcome. I had a great time and have made many close friends at LDR and I can’t wait to get back in August when my wife will join me for
a few days of relaxation.