• Why Go Diving on Nusa Lembongan with Manta Rays?

    Manta Point Nusa Penida

     

    We are extremely fortunate that our tiny island of Nusa Lembongan, just off the coast of Bali is a short boat ride away from not one but two manta ray dive sites: Manta Point and Manta Bay

    Manta Point is where we see all sorts of manta-tastic action, from feeding and cleaning through to mating trains of up to 20 manta rays swooping and banking overhead. Manta Bay is where we tend to see smaller manta rays feeding in shallower depths, which is consistent with it being a ‘nursery’ site. Between these two epic Nusa Penida dive sites, you’ll see the full spectrum of manta ray behavior!

     

    manta Point Nusa Penida
    Dramatic scenery surrounds Manta Point on Nusa Penida (Photo Credit: https://theworldtravelguy.com/ )

    Seeing a manta ray while diving is an incredible moment and one that’s on many scuba divers’ bucket lists. The more you know and understand about manta rays, the more impressive and exciting your sightings will be… so here are some of our favourite manta ray facts to get you started:

    Manta Ray Facts

    • “Manta” is Spanish for “cloak” which refers to their large blanket-shaped bodies.
    • Manta rays evolved from stingrays but unlike other stingray species, mantas do not have a stinging spine. They are completely harmless.
    • They have a large brain relative to their body size in comparison to other sharks and rays.
    • Because of their enormous size, the only known predators of manta rays are large sharks and humans.

     

    Manta feeding
    Manta rays look as though they have horns, but it’s actually their feeding (cephalic) fins rolled up
    • Manta rays look like they have horns but these are actually large fins which they use to direct plankton into their mouths when they are feeding. When they are not feeding, they roll up the fins which result in the horn-like appearance.
    • Manta rays feed on plankton and occasionally on very small fish. They are filter feeders and do not have teeth for biting or chewing.
    • Manta rays such as those found along the south coast of Nusa Penida are reef manta rays and they average 3 – 5 meters from wing-tip to wing-tip.
    • Reef manta rays stay in the same area for long periods of time but they have also been recorded traveling from spot to spot. Did you know that some of our Nusa Penida manta rays have been spotted in Komodo?!
    • Reef manta rays can swim up to 24km per hour (estimated escape speed)
    • Female manta rays give birth to a single pup every two to five years. Their gestation period is believed to be around a year long.

     

    nusa penida manta
    Reef mantas usually measure between 3 and 5 meters from wing-tip to wing-tip.

    Why Is It More Important to Dive With Manta Rays Now?

     

    During COVID-19, like most of the world, Bali has been under lockdown for many months, which meant no diving. You may be asking why this is a problem but divers acting as citizen scientists play a huge part in helping marine scientists to learn and understand more about manta rays and other ‘marine megafauna’ species, including the ocean sunfish or mola.

    The markings on the underside of a manta ray (spots, shadows, lines, blotches etc) are unique to each individual manta ray, much like a human fingerprint. Scuba divers and underwater photographers are encouraged to become citizen scientists and take pictures of the manta rays markings to submit to Marine Megafauna Foundation or upload to the Manta Matcher database.

     

    reef manta
    The markings on the underside of a manta ray are unique, like a human fingerprint.

    The unique markings on manta rays allow scientists to identify individual rays and to track where and how far they travel, estimate population abundance, examine their life history and reproductive ecology, determine spatial and temporal movement patterns, identify localized habitat usage and study patterns of natural predation and body scarring. Photography can also provide information on population decline in threatened regional populations, which is essential in the development of effective conservation and management strategies. The more we know about a population, the better it can be protected*.

    Dr. Andrea Marshall, co-founder and principal scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation said:

    “Initiatives like Manta Matcher reveal how much more we can achieve when we break down traditional barriers in science and invite people from all walks of life to participate in studies of our natural world. Collaborative wildlife studies will lead to hard hitting global conservation solutions”.

    Of course though, due to COVID-19 there are now almost 5 months of missing data and information…. which we hope to be able to help get back on track as soon as possible!!

     

    Lembongan
    Nusa Lembongan’s island economy has been hit hard by the COVID shutdown

    Why Nusa Lembongan Island Needs Divers Too

     

    Like many small island communities around the world whose economy is largely dependent on tourism and scuba diving, Nusa Lembongan has been hit by widespread unemployment as local businesses have closed. Unlike in developed countries where governments have put into place furlough schemes, benefits and financial support for those who are out of work due to COVID, there is no comparable equivalent in Indonesia.

    There are literally hundreds of charities, organizations and crowdfunding campaigns for mainland Bali but Nusa Lembongan does not have the same tourism numbers as Bali – we are a very small island where unfortunately the cost of living is higher than on the mainland due to all resources needing to be shipped here.

    Further compounding the problem is Lembongan’s extremely dry micro-climate which makes it impossible to grow rice and many of the other staple fruits and vegetables which are produced on the mainland, where those in rural areas can be self-sufficient.

     

    nusa lembongan
    Enjoy Nusa Lembongan on land as well as underwater!

     

    How You Can Help

    Come and see us when tourism re-opens! You’ll have an amazing diving experience, AND you’ll be playing a huge part in helping to regenerate the economy on the island. If you’re an underwater photographer you can become a citizen scientist and start capturing pictures of manta rays too! If you can’t travel yourself please recommend Nusa Lembongan to others!

    Latest Travel News

    The Governor of Bali has announced that Bali will be open again for international tourism from September 11th which is when we hope the free tourist visa on arrival will be reinstated!

    We understand that there are many islands around the world that are facing similar problems and if you do travel this year, wherever you go, you’ll be helping local communities at a time when they need it most – and we thank you for traveling!!

    If you’d like more information about diving Nusa Lembongan, taking a PADI course with us, PADI eLearning or to make a tentative booking please contact us on [email protected]

     

    *Marine Megafauna Foundation website

  • Penida Manta Point Bali

    The Mantas are Back!

    manta solo manta PADI

    After a few weeks of absence our wonderful manta rays are back in full force.  After an extended period of big swells which kept us away from Batu Lumbung, Manta Point,  we ventured down the coast yesterday.  The waves were still crashing against the rocks on the way down, and recent reports had been not hopeful, so we did not know what to expect when we went over the side!

    We were not disappointed.  They were every where and had obviously regained their joie de vivre!  They were chasing, swirling, cleaning and even playing peek a boo with the divers behind the corals!  It still blows me away when I turn around and find a manta has snuck up behind me and is inches away with a huge grin on its face.

    After an hour of diving with these gorgeous creature it was time for us to get back on big boat.  We were all reluctant to leave and will be back as soon as possible as the sea is calm for the next few days.

    Why don’t you join us?

    Manta Ray, Manta Point Bali
    Manta Ray, Manta Point Bali
  • Diving with Manta Rays and Mola in Nusa Lembongan, Penida, Bali

    Penida Manta Point Bali
    Manta Rays at Nusa Penida’s Manta Point

    Guidelines for Diving With Manta Rays and Mola Mola in Bali

    The following Code of Conduct has been disseminated across operators in Bali and its aim is allowing divers to witness these amazing creatures without interfering in or disturbing their natural behavior. Here at World Diving Lembongan we follow these simple steps to ensure that our divers have AMAZING encounters!

    • Always stay close to the reef, never approach the mola from above – if you wait it will slowly swim up the reef as it is being cleaned
    • If manta rays or mola are just entering a cleaning station do not approach until the cleaning has begun and the fish have been stationary for at least 1 minute – once the cleaning begins the fish will relax and are less likely to be startled.
    • Do not get too close – stay at least 3 – 5 meters from manta rays and mola.
    • If manta rays and mola are swimming or approaching a cleaning station stay at least 10 meters away to give them chance to settle.
    • Do not touch manta rays or mola – their skins’ surface is covered by a mucus membrane to protect against infection – touching the fish removes parts of the membrane.
    • Do not swim under or behind mola as this startles them.
    • Do not block a manta or mola’s exit from a cleaning station – never crowd either fish – they will become startled and flee.
    • If manta rays are cleaning remain passive and observe them from the bottom of the cleaning station – do not swim to the top of it.
    • If a manta ray or mola approaches you remain still and calm – jerky movements will startle the fish. Neither mola nor manta rays are harmful.
    • Do not use flash photography as this disturbs the fish.
    • Do not use personal underwater motorized propulsion vehicles or make loud noises.
    • Be courteous to other divers and restrict your interaction time to 5 minutes when other groups are present.
    • Dive with companies who follow the Code of Conduct and always follow your dive guides directions.

    Want to see manta and mola with us and our expert team of Divemasters? Just let us know your dates and we’ll get straight back to you [email protected]

     

  • Drift Diving in Bali & Nusa Penida with World Diving Lembongan

     

    Reef fish Lembongan
    Reef fish always swim head first into the current

    The majority of diving around Nusa Penida (and in many parts of Indonesia) is drift diving and the currents can vary from almost nothing to drifts where divers cover 2km of shore line in just 40 minutes! Whilst some divers love the exhilarating thrill of ‘flying’ along the reef others find it a daunting and nerve racking experience, however, there are some general guidelines which can help making diving in currents both safer and more enjoyable.

    –          Follow the directions of your guide and only enter the water when instructed to do so.

    –          Stay close to the reef or the bottom as currents here will be weaker. During the dive stay behind your guide.

    –          Secure all dangling equipment.

    –          Control your buoyancy and let the current move you along.

    –          Use reef formations as shelter if you want to take a breather.

    –          Do not fight the current – it is easy to become overexerted.

    –          To determine current direction look at indicators such as soft coral and reef fish (which generally swim head-on into the current)

    –          Carry a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and make sure you are familiar with how to inflate it.

    –          If you become separated from your group look around for one minute – if you don’t find them, go up and you should be re-united on the surface.

    –          If you cannot see your boat upon surfacing or if you have any doubt about whether your boat has seen you do NOT wait in strong surface currents – swim across the current, towards the shore if possible.

    Tidal currents vary according to the time of the tide because the vertical rise and fall of the tides also creates a horizontal movement of water moving either from the open ocean in towards shore on a rising tide or from the shoreline to the open ocean on a falling tide. There are also periods (at high tide or low tide) when the horizontal movement of water is minimal or non-existent and this is termed ‘slack high’ or ‘slack low’. As a general rule, diving on slack high is preferable as visibility is usually much better. On days when there is a large tidal range (such as close to new moon or full moon) currents can be expected to be faster as there is a greater horizontal movement of water. When there is only a minimal range (neap tides), currents are least ferocious – neap tides occur twice a month in the first and third quarter of the moon.

    Time your dives with the tides, remember the general guidelines and go with the flow!