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Dive Safari Asia: Bali and Komodo Trip Report

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We were excited to meet our guests at Bali’s Ngura Rai airport as having traveled with most of them before I knew we were going to have a great trip. After some fresh air (albeit humid and hot) and cold water, we boarded a mini bus for the 2 hour transfer to Scuba Seraya Resort – home for the next week.

Upon arrival we were treated to iced tea and shown to our rooms where dive boxes were waiting to be filled with our gear. We completed all relevant paperwork and resort briefing over a delicious dinner. We were all knackered and in bed early. The rooms are scattered around the beautiful gardens, and each is air conditioned and has an open air en-suite bathroom. Waking up to the sunrise over the sea visible from bed was a treat in itself. Following a hearty breakfast we headed down to the dive centre to kit up and be briefed.

The resort, on the Eastern side of Bali, is set in a luscious garden right on the black sand beach making access to the boats and house reef incredibly easy. This meant that we were back at the resort between dives, and that one could easily do three dives a day without any sense of urgency. Scuba Seraya has two boats and very experienced crew and dive guides who were eager to find some fabulous critters for us to marvel at and photograph. The following days were filled with incredible muck diving, beautiful reef dives, delicious food and lots of laughter. Some of the critter highlights include mimic octopus, pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, orangutan crabs and all manner of nudibranch, to name a few. The resort is a ten-minute boat ride from the famous USAT Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, which we dived at sunrise and again during day light hours. Here we saw a school of bumphead parrot fish, barracuda, tangs, rays and too many critters to name.

After a fantastic week of diving we dried and packed our equipment and made our way to the airport and onto Labuan Bajo. Here we were greeted by the friendly staff of Komodo Island Resort. A short ride to the pier and we boarded our private boat for the 1.5-hour transfer to Sebayur Island. Here, on this otherwise deserted island, sit 16 beautiful air-conditioned on-suite luxury bungalows, an open-sided restaurant, a beach bar and dive centre. Surrounded by uninhabited islands and calm blue water, Komodo Island Resort is magnificent. All meals are included – a lush breakfast buffet, and lunch and dinner pre-ordered a la carte, all 4 courses! Yum.

Excited to get diving we did a relaxed afternoon dive on a nearby reef. The closer sites (3-10 mins away by boat) offer awesome critter hunting, pretty reefs and protection from current; perfect for later afternoon and night diving. The following day we set off on our boat for the hour long journey to some of the further Marine Park dive sites. The boat was extremely comfortable, with large bean bags and shade cover on the upper deck, and ample seating and kit up space on the lower deck. The crew loads equipment and rinses it for you daily and provide tea and snacks during surface intervals.

The week’s diving did not disappoint. The water was clear and mostly a comfortable 28°C. Some of the sites are prone to strong currents at certain tides, but the benefit of diving at these times is a greater chance of seeing pelagics and sharks. We were lucky enough to encounter manta rays on several of our dives, as well as black tip reef sharks and schools of jacks and barracudas, and countless hawksbill turtles. The reefs are in superb condition and teaming with fish. At times one could not even see the reef through the schools of fish!

After a fantastic week at Komodo Island resort we returned to Bali and spent the night in the Rama Beach Resort, a few minutes from the airport. Here we relaxed by the pool, ate delicious local food and enjoyed the last few hours of our trip.  With heavy hearts, wonderful suntans and incredible memories we bid our farewells. A fantastic trip, enjoyed by all.

dive-safari-asiaBernita is the Operations Manager and Tour Leader for UK-based tour operator Dive Safari Asia. to find out more, visit www.divesafariasia.com.

Born and bred in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa. Traveled and instructed in South East Asia for the approx 10 years. Now living the dream working as Operations Manager and Tour Leader for UK-based tour operator Dive Safari Asia. Believes in mermaids.

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Mares EOS LRZ Torch Range

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What does LRZ stand for I hear you ask? The answer is: LED lights, Rechargeable, Zoomable. Mares have created a versatile set of seven underwater lights in the new range to suit all needs and budgets.

I tested the most powerful of them – the EOS 32LRZ at Capernwray on a cold but bright spring day. I was diving with Alex Mustard, and so all the underwater images are by him, showing me trying out the torch in both the shallows and in some of the wrecks at this site.

All the torches in the new line have an LED visual battery charge indicator that allows you to keep the battery level under control.

Want to use it out of the water? No problem! The new EOS LRZ torches feature an innovative temperature control system that allows you to use them both underwater and on land. I can see myself using this on gloomy dog walks later in the year!

As you can see from the video I filmed just after getting back from a dive, the torch is easy to use, even with thick gloves in cold water. The zoomable light beam means that you can highlight a particular spot, or have a wide beam, which is great for both modeling for a photographer, and exploring different underwater environments.

The EOS 32LRZ has a powerful beam with 3200 lumens of power and 135 minutes of burn time. Perfect for some of the darker dives you can experience in the UK, but also for exploring overhead or enclosed environments. I easily got 2 long dives out of a single charge, and then was able to recharge it in my car using a USB cable on the way home, ready for the next day of diving.

The look and feel of these torches are great. In your hand you can feel the quality of the torches. They are solid and well built. They also look great. Each torch in the range comes with a padded case to keep them safe during transport.

For more, visit the Mares website by clicking here.

All underwater images by Alex Mustard

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Marine Life & Conservation

Reef-World launches Green Fins Japan!

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The Reef-World Foundation, the Onna Village Diving Association, the local government, and Oceana are delighted to announce that Japan is now the 14th country globally to implement the Green Fins initiative – a UN Environment Programme initiative. Onna Village in Okinawa is the first Japanese tourist destination to adopt Green Fins environmental standards to reduce the threats associated with diving and snorkelling on the marine environment.

Green Fins is piloted in Onna Village, Okinawa prefecture, an area renowned for its marine sports and has been working to protect its reefs for many years. Green Fins is implemented as part of the national Sustainable Development Goals project, which aims to manage and illustrate to the local industry how sustainable tourism can play a role in reef conservation. The economic benefits of the reefs benefit not only the fisheries industry but also the tourism industry as it has rocketed in recent decades.

If the project is successful – proving the value of sustainable tourism – the model has the potential to be escalated to a national level. A wide rollout would allow Reef-World to focus on uptake and expansion into other marine tourism and biodiversity hotspots across Japan. Green Fins implementation in Japan would provide practical solutions to many of the common problems faced in the area. It would also help to promote high standards for diving in the country. Improving the quality of the diving industry through Green Fins would demonstrate the added value of Onna Village’s tourism product. This, in turn, will encourage tourists to spend more time and money diving in the region.

Following a week of training by Reef-World (23 to 28 May 2022), Japan now has a national Green Fins team comprised of four fully certified Green Fins Assessors and two Green Fins Coordinators from Oceana and the local government. They will be responsible for recruiting, assessing, training and certifying dive and snorkel operators to become Green Fins members in the country. This involves providing training about the ecology and threats to coral reefs, simple and local everyday solutions to these threats and Green Fins’ environmental standards to dive and snorkel operators. Green Fins membership will help marine tourism operators improve their sustainability and prove they are working hard to follow environmental best practices as a way of attracting eco-minded tourists.

James Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We are really excited to finally introduce Green Fins in Japan. We have been planning this for almost three years, but the travel restrictions related to the pandemic hindered progress. The diving industry in Okinawa and the marine life upon which it has been built is so unique, it must be preserved for generations to come. The Okinawa diving community is very passionate about protecting their marine environment, and Green Fins has given them an opportunity to collectively work to reduce their environmental impact and pursue exemplary environmental standards.”

Diving and snorkelling related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or plastic debris and the effects of climate change. Based on robust individual assessments, the Green Fins initiative helps identify and mitigate these risks by providing environmental consultation and support to dive and snorkel operators. Through Green Fins implementation in Japan, Reef-World aims to reduce negative environmental impacts in the region by reaching 10 marine tourism operators, training 50 dive guides and raising awareness of sustainability best practices among 10,000 tourists in the first year.

Yuta Kawamoto, CEO of Oceana, said: “Green Fins will help to unify all the conservation efforts in Okinawa by applying the guidelines in many areas and raising tourists awareness. We hope this will increase the sustainable value in the diving industry and in turn increase the diving standards in the country.”

Green Fins is a UN Environment Programme initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry. Green Fins provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.

To date, four dive operators in Onna Village have joined the global network of 600+ trained and assessed Green Fins members. These are: Benthos Divers, Okinawa Diving Center, Arch Angel and Pink Marlin Club. There has also been significant interest from other operators, even those that are not located in Onna Village, for Green Fins training and assessment.

Suika Tsumita from Oceana said: “Green Fins serve as an important tool for local diving communities to move towards a more sustainable use of their dive sites; so that they can maintain their scenic beauty and biological richness to provide livelihoods for many generations to come.”

For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or  www.greenfins.net/countries/japan. Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up for Green Fins can find the membership application form at: www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.

Dive and snorkel operators in Japan interested in signing up to be Green Fins members can contact the Green Fins Japan team at japan@greenfins.net.

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