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The Indonesian Throughflow

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As you head out from the shores of east Bali on your morning dive you are surrounded by a host of tiny outrigger fishing boats, their sails flashing in the sunlight as they dance over the waves. It is a unique, entrancing and inspiring sight, all the more so because this is a very special place.

These fishermen (and you in your dive boat) are scudding over waters that lie on the cusp of geological and biological change. In the past, at times of low sea levels, this coastline marked the very tip of a massive Eurasian Continent. During those periods you could have walked all the way from Bali to Paris without getting your feet wet. However, even when the world’s oceans were at their lowest ebb, you could never have gone any further east without harnessing wind or mechanical power, due to the depth of the chasm between Bali and Lombok, the next island in the chain.

A Fisherman contemplates the ocean

A Fisherman contemplates the ocean

A juvenile lion fish finds sanctuary in the mouth of a bottle placed in the sand in Amed East Bali

A juvenile lion fish finds sanctuary in the mouth of a bottle placed in the sand in Amed East Bali

Wallace’s Genius

In the 19th century the great naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace spent time in the islands of what is now Indonesia and remarked on how different the species of bird and animal living in the west of the archipelago were from those that inhabited the east. His findings led him to draw a line on a chart that ran through the Makassar Straits between Borneo and Sulawesi, crossed the Banda Sea and continued down through the straits between Bali and Lombok. To the west of the line, in Bali, Borneo and beyond, animal and bird life was predominantly Asian. On the other side of the line, in Lombok, Sulawesi and further east, the animals and birds were strikingly different, mainly species that originated in or resembled those found in New Guinea or Australia. Brilliantly, he deduced that the reason was geological rather than biological: “I believe the western part to be a separated portion of continental Asia, the eastern the fragmentary prolongation of a former Pacific continent.” Of course, we now know that he was absolutely right!

During his trip Wallace also came up with the notion that natural selection was the driving force behind evolution. At the same time Charles Darwin was on the Beagle sailing the seas on the other side of the Pacific and drawing similar conclusions. But that is an entirely different story.

A Very, Very Big River

What Wallace could not know, in fact something that no-one noted until almost 100 years later, was that one of the factors preventing species crossing Wallace’s Line was an enormous moving body of water. The fossil and historical records show that elephants, orang-utans, bears, tigers and other Asian mammals never managed to bridge the gap. They got as far as Borneo and Bali but no further. Even those animals that tried to swim over or were caught on driftwood after a flood could never make the crossing as everything that enters the water on one side of the line is swept away far from land long before it can reach the other side.

In the Pacific Ocean to the northeast of the Indonesian archipelago, the sea level is about 20 centimetres above average. In the Indian Ocean south of Indonesia the sea level is 10 centimetres below average. This 30-centimetre drop between the oceans creates water movement on a massive scale, a phenomenon variously known as the Indonesian Throughflow or Pacific – Indian Throughflow. The most direct path between the oceans and the path taken by a large portion of the Throughflow, as you may have guessed, runs right along the Wallace Line between Borneo and Sulawesi then down through the straits between Bali and Lombok.

Visualise it as a very, very big river pouring through a canyon between continents. How big? Ocean current flows are measured in units called Sverdrups with one Sverdrup being 1 million cubic metres of water per second moving past a given point. The flow of the Amazon is about half a Sverdrup and the combined flow of all the rivers in the world is about one Sverdrup.  The flow of the section of the Indonesian Throughflow that courses past the eastern tip of Bali is estimated to be 2.6 Sverdrups, that is, two and a half times the total of all the rivers of the world put together!

Mola-mola and Diver

Mola-mola and Diver

 

Creatures Great and Small

Thus, a vast amount of water is drawn from the Pacific Ocean and sweeps through tropical seas, across the equator and past the islands of northern Indonesia. As it travels, it picks up and carries along with it an enormous quantity of marine larvae, eggs and juveniles and deposits them wherever it encounters land. It is no surprise that most of the legendary Indonesian scuba diving destinations lie along the route taken by the Throughflow.  For example, the calm bays of black volcanic sand in northeast Bali are astonishingly rich in rare species. Enterprising dive operators need only sink a stripped motor bike frame or a dozen broken bottles set in a block of concrete and they soon become a collecting point for small fry seeking sanctuary. These tiny fish attract predators such as frogfish, lionfish, scorpion fish, eels and other rare and fascinating creatures and they in turn attract scuba divers and snorkelers.

Dive guides who work in the area often report larger sightings too, such as dugongs and a host of cetaceans, including killer whales. There are sightings of bizarre and highly unusual marine life. Last year an amateur diver captured video of a long entirely transparent eel; the film became a Youtube sensation.

A Plan of the Throughflow

A Plan of the Throughflow

Diving the Throughflow

Beyond the calm water in the bays, the Throughflow provides dramatic drift diving along unusual seascapes. Towering barrel sponges lean at 45 degrees as if in the presence of a powerful wind and, in places, pinnacles and walls are scoured of their usual natural coating. But in the valleys and other places where the topography provides a little shelter from the onslaught of the current, the enormous profusion of corals and fish life can take your breath away. In one bay, for example, just a few metres off shore from the lines of colourful fishing boats that decorate the beach, you can find hectares upon hectares of multi-coloured staghorn coral, as glorious a sight as any of Bali’s rice field terraces. Drifting over these fields of pointed sculpture in pastel shades, populated by clouds of damselfish which rise and fall as you pass is a true magic carpet ride.

Mola-mola in sun

Mola-mola in sun

Cool Animals in Cool Water

The Throughflow passes by the southeast coast of Bali too and close to the village of Candidasa a series of small islands, some not much more than jagged shards, are home to some of Bali’s fishiest diving. Schools of jacks, rainbow runners and barracuda use the dramatic rock formations for shelter from the current and reef sharks circle around watching for weakness and waiting to strike.

Further south, attempting to block the southern end of the Lombok Straits like an ill-fitting plug is Nusa Penida, the exposed part of an undersea ridge that connects Bali with Lombok. The Throughflow races by on both sides of this island, offering healthy coral, lots of big animal sightings and exhilarating drifts. Sometimes, however, the ride can be a little too wild and conditions can change rapidly and vary dramatically. One day you will drop in on a site and be entertained by a dozen manta rays, which sweep in from the deep to feed on plankton in calm, bottle green water. On another day, the same site will be empty of fish and the ocean will merely throw you around in a soup of spume and spit you out into the southern ocean on a fast train ride to the horizon.

Current pools created by the Throughflow off the coast of the village of Aas on the very tip of Asia

Current pools created by the Throughflow off the coast of the village of Aas on the very tip of Asia

Seasons have an effect on the speed of the Throughflow, with August usually the strongest month when the southeast monsoon is at its zenith. This also coincides with mola-mola season around Nusa Penida. The arrival of these bizarre creatures may be linked to the increased strength of the current but this time of year also sees an upwelling of colder water in the south of the Lombok Straits and that may be significant too. The reliability of mola-mola sightings during this period has created a small boom in the local diving industry. Be warned if you are thinking of joining the crowds: water temperatures can drop to the high teens centigrade but when you are face to face with an oceanic sunfish measuring four metres from tip to tail you will probably not even notice!

Simon Pridmore is the author of scuba diving books, travel books and, as you might expect, scuba diving travel books. Originally from the UK, Simon has lived in Asia for over 30 years. As well as his books and guides, Simon writes regular columns for a number of magazines. He and his wife Sofie currently live in Bali, Indonesia but spend a lot of time exploring other places trying (but failing so far) to find a cure for their itchy feet. Simon's latest book - Scuba Exceptional – Become the Best Diver You Can Be - the follow-up to his best-selling Scuba Confidential, is available now in paperback and e-book versions from Amazon stores worldwide. Find out more about Simon and his books on www.simonpridmore.com

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Join Pharaoh Dive Club for Red Sea Splash Family Summer Camp in August 2024

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family summer camp

3rd AUGUST 2024  – 1 or 2 WEEK PROGRAMMES

Daily water programme with Snorkelling & Scuba Diving.

Beginners or qualified, something for all.

Leave the kids with the Splash Team for days of Excitement, Fun & Adventure!

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BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

There are various options for accommodation with options for 2, 3, 4 or 5 guests.

Eco Huts provide accommodation for families of up to 4. The best option to enhance the adventure and closest to camping with basic facilities. For August we will provide central air cooling for all the Eco Huts.

family summer camp

Deluxe Chalets are only suitable for 2 guests. Fully air conditioned rooms with private bathroom and other facilities.

family summer camp

Boutique Rooms are available for families of up to 5.
Individual bespoke rooms fully air conditioned with private bathroom and other facilities.

Eco Huts: £675 per adult / £425 per child / Under 8 FREE of charge
Deluxe Chalet: £830 per adult / £505 per child / Under 8 FREE of charge
Boutique Room: £925 per adult / £550 per child / Under 8 FREE of charge

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

This is a truly unique opportunity to have a Family Desert Adventure totally away from it all! You will be based at the remote Roots Red Sea on the coast of the Egyptian Eastern Desert, 140km south of Hurghada city.

family summer camp

Red Sea Splash main focus is Snorkelling & Scuba Diving but that’s not all, we provide a rounded week of activities in support.

Pool& Field Games – Arts & Crafts
Marine Biology Workshops
Cultural Activities – Orienteering Adventures

Roots Red Sea have established strong links with the local communities of Hamerwain  & El Quseir affording our guests to have a true taste of the local culture, SPLASH CAMP embraces this opportunity and bring in the local children to join in the fun with our adventure seekers.

family summer camp

During the day, families are welcome to take part in all activities together or the kids can be left with the SPLASH CAMP team while the parents enjoy the facilities or go diving themselves!

family summer camp

At the end of the day, its family time while the SPLASH CAMP team take a break. For those with the energy, there are family evening activities planned a few evenings.

Open Air Movie Night – Desert Star Gazing Walk & Talk
El Quseir Evening City Tour

The second week is very special, we head off on the Big Blue for a liveaboard safari around Fury Shoals.

family summer camp

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

U-8 Splash Club

Sadly we can’t offer Scuba Diving to the Splash Club but we can have lots of fun Snorkelling & Free Diving!

Splash Club includes:

Certified Snorkel Course – Marine ID Games – Intro to Free Diving
Arts & Craft Sessions – Adventure trails – Cultural Playtime – Pool Games

family summer camp

U-12 Explorer Club

In addition to an exciting snorkelling and Free Diving Programme in the Splash Club we can take you under the water on SCUBA to a whole new world of fun and wonder. If you are under 10 your first breath under water will be as a Bubblemaker and continue with daily Seal Team Missions. From 10 we will complete a Discover Scuba Diving experience in the amazing Red Sea. Alternatively we offer a full junior certification programme to become an international qualified Scuba Diver.

family summer camp

U-16 Adventurer Club

For qualified Scuba Divers regardless of age it’s the Adventurer Club and exploration of the local reefs and marine life. There will be 2 dives every day with the Open Ocean marine field station team who will introduce you to Red Sea marine life and workshops on marine research. Alternatively there are opportunities to continue your scuba diving certifications with our instructional team.

family summer camp

Parents are welcome to join the club activities and join the courses.

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

Big Blue might seem like the new kid on the block, but the team behind the highly acclaimed liveaboard is far from that. They have been running Red Sea safaris since the late 1980’s and were in fact part of the early pioneers who ventured out to the unknown on vessels that in today’s world, really shouldn’t have left the harbour! It’s that experience and the years of operating the award-winning Roots Red Sea resort which truly set Big Blue apart from the crowd!

family summer camp

Large lounge area, spacious sun deck and terrace deck.

family summer camp

Airy restaurant with five tables with up to six chairs per table, serving a varied and delicious menu with special dietary requirements catered for.

family summer camp

The spacious cabins have side by side beds and a large walk in wet bathroom.

family summer camp

Ample dive deck for divers & snorkelers.

family summer camp

Safety is everyone’s priority, whether you are relaxing on board, swimming, snorkelling  or diving.

On board Big Blue is fitted with smoke alarms, emergency lighting and a fire alarm system. The lower corridor has a full-size door fire exit at the bow and open stairs to the stern. There are evacuation plans in each room along with life jackets, glass breaker tool and a fire extinguisher.

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

Red Sea Splash at Fury Shoals is a very rare opportunity to get involved with marine biology expedition for children and adults. Open Ocean biologists are on board to provide fascinating and entertaining facts about the marine life you will see. The team will provide workshops on marine life identification and survey methods both of which, should you wish, you will have the chance to put into practice during your safari.

family summer camp

The week is open to snorkelers, scuba divers and non divers too!

Fury shoals is perfect for first time mariners as it offers plenty of protection from the weather.

We board at Port Ghaleb on Saturday evening and prepare to set sail early on Sunday morning.

family summer camp

Heading south, our first day will be diving the reefs of Abu Dabbab before sailing overnight to reach our ultimate destination the Fury Shoals.

Here we will spend four days swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving amazing reefs. This includes guaranteed DOLPHIN encounters at Sataya Reef!  After the last dive we haul anchor and head back to Abu Dabbab for our final two dives before disembarking our boat BIG BLUE.

family summer camp

Camp Extension Cost*
Adult £650 per adult
Under 16 £350 per child

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

FURTHER INFORMATION – INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM

TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

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Meet Pure Dive Resort: Your Gateway to Unforgettable Diving in Bali, Indonesia

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If you’re passionate about the underwater world, listen up! We’ve got an incredible opportunity for you to experience the vibrant reefs and majestic marine life of Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia.

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info@purediveresort.com / +62 811 3999852 / www.purediveresort.com

Pure Dive Resort isn’t just another dive centre; it’s a team of experts dedicated to providing world-class scuba diving and freediving adventures around Nusa Penida, Lembongan, Ceningan, and even Bali.

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info@purediveresort.com / +62 811 3999852 / www.purediveresort.com

Whether you’re a seasoned diver or completely new to the sport, Pure Dive Resort has something for you:

For certified Divers: Discover stunning dive sites, encounter manta rays, seasonal mola-mola (sunfish), and a dazzling array of marine life.

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For beginners: Embark on your scuba journey with beginner programs like Try Scuba and Basic Diver, Open Water and Advanced certifications.

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Freedivers: Explore the depths on a single breath with guided freediving experiences and courses.

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Exclusive Scubaverse Offer: Save on Your Next Adventure

As a valued Scubaverse follower, you get an exclusive 10% discount on any Dive & Stay or Learn & Stay package booked at Pure Dive Resort for 2024. Dive into the crystal-clear waters, explore breath-taking reefs, and create unforgettable memories in this diver’s paradise.

Visit https://www.purediveresort.com/package-offers/ to explore amazing packages and claim your discount with the code: SCUBAVERSE10

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info@purediveresort.com / +62 811 3999852 / www.purediveresort.com

Ready to make a splash?

See you in Nusa Penida!

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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