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Seraya surprises

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Janice 1

Sometimes the problem with international diving is that I am overambitious.  I travel really far to arrive at a country that I have never been to, and then I travel even further to actually go diving.  But it isn’t always necessary in Indonesia.  I have often overlooked Bali as a world-class dive destination in favor of other more famous places in Indonesia, such as Raja Ampat and Komodo.  I had touched down in Bali several times and viewed a lot of beautiful macro photographs taken at dive sites on the island so I was curious to dive there myself.  But each time I traveled to Indonesia, I found somewhere else to go.  My previous trip to Indonesia had a final tally of thirteen flights, including six international and seven domestic.  It felt like a world tour of airports and in one day in Indonesia alone, I had to board three different planes, which meant navigating a total of four different airports, each with different rules for transit (yes, my passion for diving is great).

Janice 3When I booked my recent boat trip to Komodo (May 2013), I wanted an extension, one without extra planes, and asked for a destination on Bali.  Ultimate Dive Travel recommended Scuba Seraya on the northeast coast of Bali, but the suggestion came with two warnings.  The first was that the drive to the resort from Denpasar was long and maybe just as time consuming as a flight to somewhere else in Indonesia.  The drive is along a two-lane highway that twists and turns through tropical foliage and Balinese rice terraces.  Fairly beautiful views over a three-hour drive.  The second precaution was that Scuba Seraya was an incredibly quiet place.  It is.  I am not sure what other people are looking for when they go diving, but warm water with unusual creatures is enough “busy” for me.  Add to that, beautiful clean black sand beaches, a view of the main volcano on Bali (Mount Agung), views of the sunrise and sunset, and that is Scuba Seraya.

Janice 4When I was there in May 2013, it was a shoulder season so very few guests were at the resort.  One dive guide was assigned to two guests for the duration of their stay.  Ours was Alit who had been with the resort for 10 years.  The area, which includes Tulamben, is popular amongst scuba divers because of the Liberty Wreck located just a few meters from the shore.  Scuba Seraya is a 5-minute zodiac ride from Tulamben.  The torpedoed ship was originally towed to this spot for repairs in 1942, but a volcanic eruption 50 years ago moved it into the sea.  It now lies at its deepest point in about 30 meters of water.  The advantage of staying at Scuba Seraya is that you have the opportunity to be among the first to view the wreck in the morning.  Later in the day, divers arrive from the main areas of Bali and descend upon the site by late morning.  50 years has only added beauty to this wreck rather than taken it away.  It is encrusted with colorful soft corals, sponges, anemones, and crinoids, and many larger animals frequently cruise this site.  We saw a green turtle, a big Maori Napolean wrasse, and bumphead parrotfish, which travel in a school that you can see if you are coerced into the 6 to 6:30 AM dive.

Janice 5

The wreck is the main dive attraction to this area, but the rest of the diving is not the B-movie.  There were all sorts of creatures to hunt for that were new to me, and there was time to look because there was no one else but my dive buddy and me.  On Drop-off Wall, we went straight down to look at a pygmy seahorse.  For me, it was unexpected because we were hardly far from the shore and already down around 25 meters was a hippocampus Denise on a gorgonian fan.  I can only guess how many times this particular pygmy seahorse has appeared on the Internet in photos taken by people from all over the world.  He was one of my better chances to photograph one, but he still made my job as underwater paparazzo difficult because he would not look into the camera.

Janice 6

Janice 7Some of the dive sites in the area are given names that add a level of spirituality to the dive if you do not already feel it.  Alamanda, “one with nature”, and Melasti, “purification”, were two such dives that illustrated the remarkable diversity of nature underwater and perhaps the ritual of diving them helps you to throw your problems into the sea.  You can not help but be removed from the world above when you get to view a pair of robust ghost pipefish, a pair of spiny tiger shrimp, and some abnormally large nudibranchs that I have yet to name.  Indigenous “Serayan” I call them for now.  They could not exactly be considered macro, and I had to wonder what it is they eat.

Janice 12

Since I have a special fondness for anemones, I have to mention the anemone garden that was at the dive site Coral Gardens.  I had heard about one that exists in a more remote location in the Alor Archipelago of Indonesia, but there was an expansive one here that you could easily swim to from shore!

Scuba Seraya has a house reef, which was generally scheduled as a shore dive in the afternoon.  Right out in front of us, we found three ornate ghost pipefish and some resident harlequin shrimp radiating light and color against darkness at depth and the lava derived sand.  They seemed to have been glued to their starfish like some kind of porcelain figure, and the funny thing about these shrimp is that while they are so beautifully delicate and seem to “rest” upon the sea star, they are actually slowly eating it over time.

Janice 11

New critter uploads to my brain continued into the night dives.  To be able to expand my critter database at Scuba Seraya, was an impressive follow-up to a 12 day, 39-dive liveaboard trip in Komodo National Park.  Alit had enthusiastically approached me for the night dives.  “You are going for a night dive, right?” as if I had it already scheduled.  His eagerness made me think that he wanted to use me more as his own dive buddy rather than the other way around.  A whole different set of nudibranchs as well as their shell retaining cousins had emerged from the sand in the transition from sunlight to darkness.  One of his most spectacular finds was an unbelievably tiny frogfish that I could only tell was a frogfish by the way it moved.  My awe at his find was clearly expressed underwater, and Alit’s discovery was an example of knowing his reef environments really well.

Janice 8

One creature that is a sort of two-for-one, is the boxer crab.  It is a small crab that holds two tiny anemones in its claws and raises them in self-defense.  The anemones get transport and maybe food particles to eat.  I again missed the locale that boxer crabs normally inhabit, but each night, Alit would motion me over and present a crab, including one carrying eggs one night.  These boxer crabs were bold, and instead of scurrying away from me, they instigated a game of chicken or stare down.  Their intention was unclear, but the game resulted in some successful photos for me.

Janice 10

Janice 9We only had time enough to dive the area near the resort.  The region is much more expansive, extending down the coast, south to Amed.  It was not part of my original plan to want to come back for further dive exploration on Bali, but now I do.  The young Indonesians guiding the dives at the resort proudly claimed that Tulamben/Seraya is the best diving on Bali because the locals practice conservative fishing methods whereas other notable areas on the island do less so.  It is a photographer’s dream destination as it is not crowded, so you have time with your subject, nor is it littered topside or on the sea floor.  On the other hand, the fine black sand is a nightmare for housings!

The most amazing part about diving Scuba Seraya is that you are never very far from shore.  So the next time your feet are dangling while you are catching the waves at the beach, wherever you are, think about who is under them.

Janice Nigro is an avid scuba diver with a PhD in biology.  She is a scientist who has studied the development of human cancer at universities in the USA and Norway, and has discovered the benefits of artistic expression through underwater photography and story writing of her travel adventures.

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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Windmill Beach (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Situated a short drive out of Simonstown is the shore dive at Windmill beach. A short swim over the sand and through the large boulders you enter the incredibly diverse and colourful kelp forests (Ecklonia maxima), a species that can grow up to 12m tall. Life is found in abundance from the base of the kelp where many sea urchins and species such as abalone can be seen then heading into the canopy many shoaling fish species can be observed.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Gear News

Fourth Element to make diving tools from recycled PPE

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Fourth Element has partnered with recycling and repurposing experts, Waterhaul, to retask the mask; turning single-use plastics into the tools we use in pursuit of underwater adventure. Face masks and other items of PPE from hospitals are melted down into blocks, sterilising the material which fourth element purchases, recycle and transforms.

These cave line markers are the first of what fourth element hopes will be many products using this waste material to give it a new life beyond protecting the lives of our frontline healthcare workers. Each marker re-uses the equivalent of two disposable masks. Waste is given a new direction.

The end product is completely safe. The PPE is heat treated by the hospital: the plastic is heated to high temperatures multiple times; first to make the blocks within the recycling process, and also whilst injection moulding the parts.

What makes this OceanPositive?

In the UK alone, 58 million single-use plastic face masks are thrown away every day, littering landfills and polluting the environment. Globally, we use 129 billion per month – that’s enough to wrap around the world 550 times! Over the last 12 months, a recorded 1.5 billion have entered the ocean, disrupting our ecosystem and endangering marine life across the globe. And that’s just what has been recorded.

These lines markers are made from recycled PPE, each one saving two masks from entering landfill or our oceans. Part of fourth element’s Zero Waste and Zero Plastic initiatives; to re-purpose as much plastic as possible and find new uses for products at the end of their lives.

We believe that this is the way,” said Jim Standing, co-founder of fourth element. “We are all going to have to tackle the challenges of a post covid world and one of these will be how we deal with the waste we have created as part of keeping ourselves and in particular, our frontline workers protected. We intend to play our part.”

For more information visit the Fourth Element website by clicking here.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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