Comfortable wooden furniture on the veranda, the swing sways gently in the constant wind. A view as from another world: mangrove forests that surround the bay, garnished by cloud-covered volcanoes in the background. Crickets chirr, birds chirp and the ribbit of the frogs form a harmonious concert. A competition of natural sounds. Otherwise there is only one thing: the sound of the sea and silence!
When you talk about Bali, most faces light up immediately. Surfer's paradise and party mile in the south, yoga and backpacker trails along the coast, diving destination in the east. The small artist and dropout town of Ubud inland - for many THE exotic Bali. This is where the island ends for most tourists. For a few, however, it is only just beginning. From Denpasar Airport it takes about four hours across the island to the northwest. Past rice fields, volcanoes and small lakes. Getting there alone is already an adventure, and the list of things you really want to explore is growing steadily.
The Naya Gawana Resort is located on the edge of the West Bali National Park, directly on Menjangan Bay - an inlet that stretches two kilometres inland. On the one hand, divers can reach the Menjangan nature reserve in a few minutes by boat, on the other hand, they also have the opportunity to dive the steep walls along the coast, which are not really inferior to Menjangan's biodiversity.
Today's good view along the coast provides a view of a fascinating steep wall that drops to a depth of 40 meters. A wide variety of hard and soft corals can be found between the rocks. A colorful garden in which shoals of damselfish swim around. Clownfish scurry around frantically, while a large barracuda suspiciously observes the divers. Only the batfish seem to be indifferent to the visitors. In the light of the lamps, the group discovers countless small animals in the crevices: colorful nudibranchs ‘just lik in a costume contest’, Kaori shells, shrimps of different kind. Macro lovers will get their money's worth here: even Pygmy Seahorses can be found here. As everywhere, the following applies: everything can, nothing has to. Even big fish come nearby from time to time.
In the course of El Ninjo, a fascinating underwater project was started near the dive center: active reef construction - ideal for the occasional dive.
Just a flap away
A few meters behind the jetty, the sea floor already drops to more than ten meters. The visibility is usually only a few meters: the strong tides in the bay leave their mark. Suddenly a huge steel pyramid rises, overgrown with countless corals and anemones, equipped with bicycles, carved works of art and amphorae. In the middle of nowhere, an artificial reef was created through a lot of work, which was quickly accepted by many sea creatures. Everything that can be found on the steep wall lives also here in large numbers in the smallest space.
Recycling broken reef pieces
The table, fire and antler corals do not get to the artificial constructions by themselves, at least not all of them. The dive gardeners collect broken fragments from natural reefs and then attach them to the structures.
Among all the small anemone fish, damselfish, nudibranchs and batfish, a barracuda almost one and a half meters long is the boss in the bay. Grim facial expression, imposing teeth, the body shaped like a single streamlined muscle: the reef gardeners love it, for them the predator is like a friend. One who protects nature by keeping it in balance.
All images (c) Sarah Wünsche
19th December 2019