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
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
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
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.