• 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

    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

  • Magic, Wooden Nails and a Very Large Hammer!

    Wooden Nails

    Building Big Boat was labour intensive, to say the least.  We had an industrious group of nail makers consisting of anyone who dropped by to have a chat. The rule of the shed  was that if you popped in, you were given a block of iron wood and an axe.  It seemed that everyone in the village just loved whittling! I was the only exception to this rule.  The thought of me wielding one of the axes made the crew a tad anxious!

    Magic Uri Geller Style!

    In another corner of the boat yard, Pak Gandy had started his magic.  He had lashed two boards together to a tree and anointed them with his magic potion, water and palm oil. A a smoldering fire was lit  in a pit beneath them. At the other end of the boards were palm logs providing the weight to gently twist the boards through ninety degrees.  The fire was kept going 24 hours and each day the planks would twist a little more. Our Pak Gandi was a regular Uri Geller!

    Screwing and Gluing

    Meanwhile the main crew were now fastening the hull planking to the keel, transom and main rib.  The edges of the boards were drilled at regular intervals, a generous dollop of epoxy was rammed in the holes followed by hand crafted nails. Corresponding holes were drilled and filled with glue.  Then the two parts were gently introduced to each other with the assistance of an incredibly large hammer!

    Noah’s Tool Box!

    The bit that floored me the most though was the tool box.  With the exception of an electric drill and a chain saw, they had the same tools that could have come from my great grandad’s shed! I think there may have been a tape measure somewhere, but I never saw it.

    Big Boat was starting to take shape.  The twisted boards were cut to shape and fitted up against the prow and all of a sudden, a mad collection of hewn trees and telegraph poles started to look seaworthy.

    Next time – “They Grow Them Like that!”

     

  • Boat Building in the Jungle

    Pak Gandy sketching in the sand.

    Meet Pak Gandy, The Boat Building Guru!

    Welcome to the third installment of boat building Balinese style!

    The wood had been cut, prime binkarai planks had been delivered, plans had been drawn and approved and the boat yard in the jungle constructed……Enter the boat builders with three lengths of old telegraph pole, gallons of epoxy resin and a tool box donated by Noah!

    The question had to be asked.  What were the telegraph poles for?

    Re-claim, Re-cycle, Re-use!

    I should have known.  These were to be the backbone of our boat, the keel and prow.  Why telegraph poles? Because they are old seasoned iron wood and nigh on indestructible.  Having explained these salient points to me, our magnificent boat builder then squatted down with a pointy stick in hand and drew a large semicircle in the dirt.  He then looked me right in the eye and said assertively,

    “Like This!”

    What does one say? It turns out that he had just drawn the profile for the main rib of Big Boat, right where the central outriggers are. This was the piece around which all the planking would be bent.  I just nodded my head and let him get on with what he did best.

    Handy With His Chopper!

    The next thing I knew, he had a great baulk of timber propped up and was wielding a razor sharp axe, forming perfect joints which when completed went snugly together like pieces of an incredible three dimensional jigsaw.  I had heard of craftsmen like Pak Gandy, but to watch him and his team in action was a pure pleasure.

    As we were about to leave the boatyard, I noticed a rather large hole in the ground just next to a tree stump.  Pak Gandy’s merry men were dumping all the wood chips in there.  Pak Gandy grinned at me, pointed to the pit and whispered,

    “That’s for the magic!”

    It seems that boat builders come from Hogwarts!

    Next time – Magic, deadly potions, wooden nails and a very large hammer.

  • Come Up With A Plan! Designing Big Boat.

    Come up with a plans
    Come up with a plans

    Grand Designs.

    Made the Mad Axeman and the Timber Haulers had done their thing so the next step was to come up with a plan! Some serious designing was required. Suggestions came thick and fast. A stronger, longer ladder. A loo with a view. A captain’s chair. Even a water slide! You name it, it was suggested.

    So after scrapping some of the less practical suggestions, out came the set squares, protractors and sharp 2H pencils and the drawing commenced. Now I may have mentioned that my knowledge of boat building was limited to something you could fold from paper and float in the bath, as a result, the task of designing a sodding great 15 metre wooden boat was somewhat daunting.  Nevertheless, after a couple of weeks and much head scratching, a reasonable facsimile of a set of plans were produced.

    Construction Crew Consultation.

    Meanwhile, Pak Nyoman had found our trusty boat builder, the incredible Pak Gandy.  We were formally introduced and I humbly submitted my design.  The boat captains, led by Pak Lombang, boat builders and various hangers on all peered at the plans and there was a long silence. The suspense was killing me. Cigarettes were passed round, cups of coffee consumed, various aspects of the design were pontificated over and, after what seemed an eternity there was a mass nodding of heads. At last the verdict was pronounced.

    “Bagus!”

    Then the plans were neatly folded and …….never, ever looked at again!

    Boatyard in the Jungle.

    There just remained the question of where the boat would be built.  For some unfathomable reason, the location for our boatyard was in the jungle, nearly 200 meters from the sea!  I did question this choice but was reassured that this was a very fortuitous site, approved of by the deities of boat builders.

    There was one other slight problem.  Because rainy season was in full force,  workers, timbers and tools would soon end up soaking wet and like my wet suit, ever so slightly mouldy! So a suitable tent had to be built.  Therefore the greenery was cut back, bamboo sacrificed to the cause and a spidery structure was erected, covered in canvas and lashed to nearby trees. Finally the finishing touch was the installation of the temple and that was it, we were ready to go!

    In our next thrilling instalment, “Pak Gandy scribbles in the sand!”

  • Building Big Boat, “TIMBER!”

     

     

     

    Cutting wood for for the frame

    How To Build  A Boat!

    When we bought World Diving in 2005 we knew that the original Big Boat was getting close to retirement age and that a new boat would have to be found.  This was evident by a couple of facts.  First, the water in the bilge was slopping over the deck boards! Second, the daylight that could be seen through cracks in the hull!

    After much scratching of heads and long discussions we decided to build a new one!

    We consulted our expert in all things boat like, Pak Lombang and he said,

    “Kayu! Harus adah kayu kuat! Saya adah banyak!” Loosely translated this means, you need strong wood. I have lots in my garden. What he failed to mention is that it was still alive and growing!

    The Hunt for Wood!

    So, Pak Made was sought after as he had the largest chain saw on the island. This thing was a beast!  It had a blade over a metre long with the most vicious chain you have ever seen.  This was the Mad Max of island saws!

    So off we ventured into the jungle, also known as Pak Lombang’s garden. At this stage, Sue and I were having qualms about hacking down trees, but we were assured that these trees were on Pak lombang’s land and had been planted with boat building in mind.

    Suitable trees were identified and duly dispatched by Made’s rusty Stihl.  Then came the truly terrifying part. Making sure that he had his protective footwear firmly in place, flip flops with a thick sole, and his eye protectors on, copy RayBans from Kuta, Mad Made started sectioning the trees into suitable lumber.  This involved standing on the tree trunk and using this vast chain saw with a somewhat loose chain to saw thick baulks of wood with his feet either side of the cut. At this stage we walked away!

    Needless to say, everyone else was perfectly comfortable with the levels of health and safety being followed by our heroic hacker and Made even proudly showed off his ten toes at the end of the day!

    Finally, all the required wood had been cut and sectioned and was then stacked up to dry for a month. Then came the next challenge.

    “Pak John, we need a plan, design the boat!” an interesting concept as my boat building expertise to date had involved nothing more challenging than playing Pooh Sticks!

    In the next thrilling installment, “Shipyard in the Jungle,” Johnny Makes A Plan!

  • Beat the Winter Blues and Splash into the New Year

    Tired of the dark grey winter mornings? Desperate for some sunshine and scuba dives? Planning to make a new years resolution to dive more? Planning to take your next level of PADI Course? We are here to help! Dive with World Diving Lembongan during February and March and we’ll give you an instant 10% discount!

     

    Christmas turtle

     

    That’s right, we are offering 10% discount on our daily dive trips, dive and stay packages and PADI courses.

    There is no better time to dive with us than through the winter! Did you know this is also when the water temperature is at its warmest and the dive sites are quieter meaning incredible marine life encounters without other divers!

     

    Jukung Balinese World Diving

     

    Are you an Indonesian National or expat living in Indonesia? Combine your WNI / KITAS 10% discount with our winter savings discount for a massive 20% off trips, courses and packages!

    Pondok-baruna-Sea-view-beach

     

    See you soon in sunny Nusa Lembongan.

    [email protected]

  • New PADI Students

    A Word on Masks -Which mask suits you sir?

    A Word on Masks.

    There you are, a newly fledged PADI Open Water Diver, and you start looking at all the wonderful stuff you can now buy to go with that shiny new C-card.  So what is and is not worth buying? The first thing I would consider are masks.  There is nothing more frustrating than having a mask that leaks and there is nothing more repellent than a mask full of mould that with fraying straps and raggedy seals.

    Modern diving equipment
    For masks, comfort and a good fit is important!

    Comfort and Fit!

    As I said in the article about wetsuits, the most important thing about any equipment is a good fit.  Your mask has to be comfortable as you are going to have this thing on your face for at least an hour.  Masks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so the first thing to do is find masks that are the right width for your face.  This may even mean trying on masks for children if you have a particularly narrow face.

    Then you need to do the fit test. Without using the strap, put the mask against you face and sniff! You should find that the mask sticks to your face like a demented limpet and holds itself in place. Guys with beards may find this will not happen. Unfortunately air can get back into the mask via your 6 o’clock shadow!

    Where is the rub?

    Now that you have seen that the mask fits, just push it against you face a little more firmly and see if there are any parts of the mask that feels uncomfortable. Remember, water pressure can make the mask fit tighter. I find that certain makes have a hard plastic frame that pushes against the bridge of my nose.  After wearing one of these masks for a day I actually had a bruise where the mask had been pressing on my face. On another occasion, one guest had the firm imprint of a screw head at the end of her nose. This was where the drain valve of her mask was making contact!

    Little Black Number!

    Next is the style of mask. There are so many options out there, but you are ideally looking for a low volume mask.  That is a mask that does not have too much air space on the inside.  These are generally easier to clear. If you need corrective lenses, you will need to look for a twin lensed mask like the Technisub LOOK.  You can buy the corrective lenses for this mask and have the dive shop fit them for you.

    New PADI Students
    The mask sniff test in action!

    After all this you can now go about selecting the colour so that it synchronises with your beach wear! As most wetsuits are black, I decided that this would be my colour of choice, but I am an old traditionalist.  One thing about skirts….. the one on the mask!  If you are a keen photographer, a black silicone material is better as this reduces glare inside the mask and makes it easier to see the screen of your camera.

    So there you have it, fit and comfort, no funny screws and a dark skirt. What could be clearer?

  • 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