In 2005 fifty pyramids built out of concrete blocks were placed at the bottom of a sandy slope adjacent to an existing reef. We decided to take the camera and see how these structures are developing as an artificial coral habitat. After loading all of our survey equipment into the back of a truck, we headed to the small coastal town of Amed.
This region of Bali was once amongst the poorest, with harsh climatic conditions unsuited to agriculture. The economic mainstays were salt making and fishing. Now tourism has become a major contributor to the local community. The need to develop tourist infrastructure coupled with a growing conservation awareness has resulted in this dive site.
We chose to enter the water from the shore as the local Bangka boats are a bit precarious for the transportation of our sensitive and rather large camera system. After passing the reef flat the shifting black volcanic sand drops away to a deep blue and is a featureless plain until you reach the structures. In order to grow, coral reefs need a hard place to settle and competition is fierce for this valuable real estate. We found a series of pyramids of about 2.5 metres high littered over the ocean floor. They were covered in growth, with large table corals, sea fans and tangles of blue sponges all vying for space.
During the dive we saw a wide range of species living here, from multitudes of small fish, juveniles, Sweetlips and marauding Trevallies to miniscule critters, like tiny pygmy seahorses clinging to seafans. A Hawksbill Turtle, munching on a sponge, eyed us lazily, Blue-spotted Lagoon Rays cruised the bottom and fat garden eels undulated in the current. This was our last dive in Bali for now, but our first taste of the current that Indonesian waters are famous for, and gave us some insight into the beauty of the reefs ahead and also the challenges we might face in photographing them.
So we say “Terimah Kasih”, or thank you, to our dive guide Wayan Giseh and the very helpful folk at Tulamben Wreck Divers, and prepare for our departure to one of the “New” seven wonders of the world, the famous island of Dragons, Pulau Komodo.