Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Virtual Dive in Bali

One of the coolest things about the Liberty shipwreck in Tulamben, Bali was the big fans of red coral that seemed to be everywhere. Without a light shining on it it looked like a big black cotton plant, but once the light hit it you would see the vibrant red come through. This is the kind of red coral they make the jewelry out of.
There were also a bunch of anemone patches with all kinds of clownfish and anemone fish hanging out in them, this one was one of the most colorful I saw.
This big puffer was about 4' long and always hung out in this one little room of the shipwreck. You had to know where to find this shy guy, but he was always there, just hanging out. I always enjoy looking in their eyes, they seem so expressive.
And the wreck also had it's own resident Napolean Wrasse. I saw this guy on 2 different dives, he was about 6' long and I'm guessing he weighed in somewhere close to 200 pounds, he was one big fish. It's a very strange feeling being in the water with something as big as you are.
Then I came across this Titan Triggerfish just sitting still in part of the wreck while a little cleaner wrasse gives him a good going over. You can see those teeth he has, not someone you want to mess with, as a few of our local divers can attest. This guy was about 2' long, and a pretty impressive fish.
These are called tunakits, and are everywhere in Tulamben, covering the shipwreck to just being attached to rocks and coral near the shoreline. They are all different colors and have different designs and patterns on them.
This plant looks innocent enough, and it's everywhere, on the wreck, on rocks, on the black sand. I'm guessing this is probably one of the biggest reasons everyone there wears a wetsuit. If you bump into these, they sting you, and it hurts, it really hurts. After a while you learn to be very careful when positioning yourself to take pictures so that you don't back into these or brush up against them.
There were also brightly colored sea feathers or crinoids everywhere. I was enjoying the brilliants red and vibrant orange colors of some of the crinoids.
On one of my dives, I was hovering up above the wreck and I saw this guy go wiggling by. It was the first sea snake I've ever seen. Snakes have always creeped me out, and I'm not any happier about seeing them underwater.
One day our dive shop guys told us we needed to go on a sunrise dive the next morning to see the bumphead parrotfish on the wreck. I had no idea what they were talking about, but we agreed to go. Since we didn't take a dive guide, we were just kind of discovering things on our own, my favorite way. I poked my head into one of the big rooms in the ship and looked up and saw all of these guys, they were anywhere between 2'-6' long and some of them tipped the scales well over 200 pounds. They were just massive, and truly impressive to swim in the middle of.
This guy was easily as long as I was, only a lot thicker. They use their heads to bash things, they can break shells open or I'm guessing they would also have no problem breaking all my ribs if I gave them a hard time, needless to say I gave them plenty of room.
For one of our dives, the dive shop guys arranged for a fishing boat to come pick us up and take us to a beach that was good for macro photography, in other words, nudibranchs. The boat ride over was awesome, Kelli and I both loved traveling by a traditional Balinese fishing boat. You could see the other divers going around in their inflatible zodiacs, but I loved doing it this way.
Kelli was having trouble equalizing one of her ears on this dive, but still managed to have a good time playing with and taking pictures of this big ocean sunfish. If you weren't looking for nudibranchs, this was a pretty boring dive as it was just a bunch of rocks, but I managed to find some very awesome nudibranchs to take pictures of.
I also saw some very cool lionfish that I haven't seen before. This guy flared his wings for me to show off the beautiful orange colors.
When I was doing a drift dive down the coastline, I saw some of these huge starfish down on the sand. They were about 8-10" across and very thick. They looked like some kind of a Fisher Price nerf toy.
This was another of the very beautiful red coral colonies on the shipwreck. Everywhere you turned and looked there was something like this to see, I could spend a lot of time on that shipwreck and never get bored.
I did another sunrise dive to see the bumphead parrotfish, but instead of them being in their usual room, there was this 5' barracuda. He was quite impressive to see as well, but I guess if there are sharks and barracudas, the bumphead parrotfish won't come around. I saw both sharks and this barracuda that morning. He just seemed to be sleeping there and not caring if I got close to him or not, so I decided to see just how close I could get.
I got within a couple inches of his mouth. If he would have just opened his mouth a little more I could have taken a shot looking down his throat. I suppose my desire to see just how up close and personal I can get with things may blow up in my face one of these days, but I'm sure getting some great pictures in the meantime.
And I saw several of these blue spotted stingrays, but this one was definitely the most colorful of all the ones I saw. I played with this guy for quite a while, trying to coax him out of his hole enough for me to get a decent shot of him. So if one of these days you hear about me having one of those freak accidents, you'll know it was all in pursuit of the perfect picture. I hope this gave you a little taste of just how awesome the diving in Bali was and shows you what a great time we had.


Tamara said...

Incredible and amazing! Thanks once again for taking us non-divers on a dive trip!

Bev said...

Dang, you were REALLY close to that Trigger fish. Did you not learn from my mishap!? lol I really loved the bumphead parrot fish. They're so friendly . . . oh and i warned you about the feather coral!! They sting badly =P

Angelo Villagomez said...

This was like the Steve Irwin post.

You're lucky that only the sex crazed monkeys bit you.