Sunday April 29th 2012
Our other dive on Day 1 in Bali was a slow shore dive a little further away from the USAT Liberty. The Drop-Off is a 60m deep wall, an old lava flow from Mount Agung. It begins on a steep sandy slope. From around 15m, the slope becomes a wall and descends. Visibility will differ greatly depending on the amount of plankton, but the site is an excellent place to spot turtles, reef sharks, parrot fish and barracuda, and many cracks that are home to an array of tiny invertebrates.
We drove about 15mins from the USAT Liberty to a secluded beach full of boats and a small muddy parking space. All our equipment was loaded into the vans from the USAT Liberty and taken directly to the Drop-Off. From there, we had a nice easy shore dive, putting our equipment on at the beach with the help of our guides and simply walking into the water. The pebbles were smaller which made the entry a lot more simple, but there was plenty of black volcanic sand, so perhaps not the best area for sunbathing! We began our dive by swimming east to a corner where a formation of rocks sticks outwards. It was here that we slowly descended a huge wall containing colourful sponges and corals.
The dive began in poor visibility, although further down things became a lot clearer and we soon spotted some vast marine life. The top part of the wall, with some surge at the surface, mainly consisted of hard corals. We also spotted some hedges of gorgonians and dark (blackish?) coral bushes. Most marine life at the Drop-Off are attracted to the plankton that is swept by the current from the Tulamben slopes. My guide and I spotted a small and interesting looking yellow creature, some kind of a shrimp or crab, very noticeable against the dark rock, watching us as we swam past. We also saw plenty of anemones full of pink anemone fish, and even came across a white anemone crab with blotches of red and brown with his pincers in a slight upright position. Usually shy and elusive, they can be difficult to find unless a diver specifically searches for them, so we were quite lucky to come across one by chance.
The Drop-Off is a small, basic and less well-known spot as most divers head straight for the USAT Liberty, but it is simple and easy enough for beginners, offering a nice relaxing dive if you have not been in the water for a while and prefer to swim slowly without having to worry about specific areas like wreck diving or deep diving . Sometimes there is a slight current, but the water is still enough to let you relax and focus on the marine life. In addition to the ones mentioned above, we came across plenty of tropical fish – Moorish Idols, butterfly fish, parrot fish, and wrasses. Down at 30m is a huge Muricella gorgonian fan. With a diametre of 2m, it’s an exciting find for the Advanced diver!
Dive 3: Tulamben Bay Wall/Drop-Off: depth: 14.9m, dive time: 47mins, water temp: 30C, entry time: 17:05, exit time: 17:52, average depth: 9.16m, used an 11.1L aluminium tank, 6kg weight belt and 5mm wetsuit. Saw Moorish Idols, butterfly fish, parrot fish, wrasses, various hard and soft coral (gorgonians), and a beautiful anemone crab.