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Dive Master training is about to commence for our Two Staff Mr. Munahir (or moon as most know him) and Mr. Ipan. Both of our boys are ready but also a little nervous as it is going to test some of their weaker areas such as physics, physiology and their general English skills. We are going to start sometime next week with a rescue re-cap then on to the Dive Master training.
As some of you may know our fearless dive guide Moon is also our lead dive guide for Belongas, supervisor for all the dive guides, equipment technician and compressor mechanic. Moon always enjoys a challenge making him one of our most ambitious and hardest working employees. He has always said that one of his favorite things about Belongas (After the Hammerheads and Mobula rays) is the challenge of navigating the ever-changing currents of the magnet and the epic topography in the area. Mr. Ipan has over the last year gaining training and experience in the Belongas so that this year he will not only become a dive master but a dive guide for the Belongas area.
Ipan is one of the jokers of our team and its never a boring day with him around but don’t let him fool you as he has high hopes and ambitions of becoming an instructor and flying even higher. Doing the dive master course with the boys presents its own problems as the materials needed do not come in Indonesian but no worries with lots of lectures, diagrams from me and help from our Indonesian instructor Kuss doing some translation for the boys it shouldn’t be a problem. Good luck to the boys and keep a look out for the updates on their Dive Master course.
This week in Sekotong, south Lombok has been a quite one for diving with us going around getting on with some of the general maintenance and preparing for our move to our new South Lombok Dive Resort!
We had a nice surprise at the end of this week with 7 guests joining us for some diving out on Gili Renggit and Gili Layar. 2 fantastic dives with lots of macro life including seahorse, harlequin shrimp, cuttle fish and many more.
Nearing the finish of our new dive center we are all getting excited as with the new place we will have access to on site accommodation, which is very nice with a/c and hot water all for a reasonable price. We will also have a lot more space to hold some after dive activities including volley ball and football which the boys and myself are very much looking forward to, in addition to that we will also be having a bar installed in the new chill out area which should spice up the night life a bit. All in all, a good week and I cannot wait for the next one.
As many of you know last year was not the best as far as water temperatures go seeing an average water temperature of 28/29 degrees Celsius. In the South Lombok we were quite lucky in that are corals are very resilient and had very little coral bleaching.
But what we did see was that certain species like the ornate ghost pipe fish, the giant frog fish and the pygmy sea horse became something that we didn’t see so often, but don’t despair since we have had already more than 10 sightings last month of the ornate and a few of the pygmy and the giant frog fish. It can quite disheartening when something like this happens but there is always a silver lining the boys here spent time looking to locate the missing marine life and in the process found South Lombok dive sites where we now regularly find harlequin shrimp, spiny tiger shrimp, Ambon scorpion fish, Wonderpus and a place to see the mandarin fish all day.
The return of the ornate (sorry for all the star wars puns) sparks hope for an amazing season here in South Lombok.
Everyone who knows the boys here in South Lombok knows that there is never a dull moment. As you can see in the picture there have been some running races on the surface intervals with our captain Solihn coming out in front. The South Lombok/Belongas team loves chasing hammerheads, navigating the currents, swimming along the epic topography, hunting macro on the sands but the boys enjoy the social aspects of the diving community too.
This month we have had a few afternoon BBQ’s with some amazing food thanks to the kitchen staff and a few nights of beer fueled fun with the guests like Marco and Lisa who joined for a night for the boy’s antics. Also, some amazing news this month as we say congratulations to Hery as he has now made it past his training to become junior dive guide. It has been a lot of fun teaching Hery with briefings being conducted on top of tables (which he didn’t like) to improve his confidence, lots of guiding with some unruly divers (me and the boys ; ), and the rescue practice was made extra tough by the boy’s eagerness to show him how strong a panicked diver can be!
This week in South Lombok has not been the best week for the visibility but that has not stopped the boys going on a super macro hunt! Lots has been spotted this week like this little painted frogfish running around on the sand, most people know about the lure on the frogfishes’ head and how uses it to catch its pray. But did you know that they also can change almost any color have even seen a dark purple one (which is probably my favorite at the moment). Also, this week we had Alice from the U.K. join us for a few dives and help in the hunt for the cool macro. She ended up having some awesome dives with Munahir finding frogfish, Ambon scorpion fish, millipede, nudibranchs, Harlequin shrimp, Mimic octopus and lots more.
This week has been both exciting in the water and out with huge storms and massive rain and epic show of force from mother nature. A few trees have fallen over and the roads have turned in to rivers, don’t worry though life has gone on with no accidents and every one carrying on despite the weather.
This month in South Lombok we had a huge celebration for the birthday of West Lombok. The event took place on the 22nd but has been a week of activity with the local schools involved in a project to teach them the importance of the local environment. They conducted beach clean ups had team building exercises and lessons on how to help preserve/save the environment. This was all done leading up to the main event where there was the yearly boat race, live concert, a small fair ground and a whole variety of local delicacies.
Come by and join the party…
This week in South Lombok has been absolutely crazy with a huge group of students, 16 in total. With mainly kids in the group it has took a lot of planning and organization luckily we had Kuss from Gili Air and Anh-vu from Amed come over to give us a hand. We say a big congratulation to 11 of the students for completing their PADI Open Water Courses and to the other 5 you guys did brilliantly and we all have absolute faith that you will finish the course with ease next time!! So keep your chins up. It’s been a bit of a stressful few days keeping it all together but o have we had fun jumping off the boat in the breaks, laughing, joking and some very interesting briefings with some of the naughtier kids!!
The weather has been fantastic with it only raining a little in the night and the sun shining all day. We have not spotted so much this week as we have been to focused on the training but we have seen banded sea snake, moray eels, ornate ghost pipe fish, shrimps and lots of reef fish!
An amazing day special thanks to jay for coming down to join us in scouting these new Belongas Bay dive sites and we all are looking forward to the next adventure and with the special explorations trips we have for the moment [crazy low prices] there should be lots to come see you beneath the surface.
New Belongas Bay Dive site 2 (also here no new name yet), we heard a rumor of a sunken island inside the bay and decide to check it out as an alternative dive site when the conditions are very rough. We pull up to the sunken island with only the captains word that it’s there as the visibility was very poor. We enter from the boat only to find out that we are only 2 meters from the bottom, so surface swim to where the reef drops off and descend. As we hit 2 meters we punch through the vis and this Belongas dive site opens up into a sandy slope with corals we are not used to seeing, we descend on to the slope with little hope that we were going to find something special [we were just happy to get wet] and were immediately slapped in the face by the sighting of a thorny sea horse. And the sightings just kept coming stone fish, a flat head as big as my arm, nudis and some amazing coral life. But we had to cut the dive short as after 2 deep dives and a long journey back to base at Belongas Bay left us with little time. But we all can’t wait to get more eyes over there to see what jewels this murky sunken island is hiding!!! A very calm shallow Belongas Bay dive site, a nice end to our day after the deeper colder dives.
Diving Gilis this week we’ve been seeing quite a lot of Ribbon Eels. We usually spot them at a few of the Gili dive sites, but during this week we had them pretty much on every Gili dive site that we dove. We’ve spotted black and yellow Ribbon Eels and then at other Gili dive sites the occasional albino Ribbon Eel, these mostly at the Gili Air dive site Frogfish Point.
The Ribbon Eels are usually quite shy and prefer to hide in holes when you get close, nevertheless, hovering above their little hideouts for a while can bring them back out. Really cool, it’s not so often that we get the possibility to see how long they actually are as it’s very rare that we can see them swimming around in the open.
The sea has been very calm at the Gili dive sites, hardly any current and very clear with great vis. Quite different to a little while ago where we were dealing with strong currents and mediocre vis at the Gili dive sites.
Apart from the Ribbon Eels we’ve been enjoying a lot of Turtles, mantis shrimps, Bluefin trevally, rainbow runners, bat fish, cuttle fish and quite a few octopus at the Gili Islands dive sites. Also, had got quite lucky and had a few Eagle rays cruising around the Gili Air dive site, Air wall. Can’t wait for the start of the Manta Season January/February in the coming year. I’ll be sure to cruise the Gili Dive sites on the lookout for them as soon as it starts.
Diving Belongas Bay we have now been exploration diving and looking for new awesome Belongas Bay dive sites. We wanted to check out the rumors as well as the spectacular pinnacles and impressing rock formations along the South Lombok coastline and see if we can’t open up some more spectacular diving Belongas Bay.
New Belongas Bay Dive site number 1 [sorry no name for it yet], we dive on to a rock formation different from the rest as it is made up of what looks like a lime stone mixed with something else. As we descend to around 30 meters we are immediately greeted by a rather large white tip reef shark and we cruise along the wall with its huge groves carved out of it by the waves and currents. As we pushed along the wall we are meet by some cool topography, pinnacles, walls and some boulders, not so much coral on this Belongas dive site but we found an abundance of marine life with big schools of bat fish, fusiliers, barracudas, more white tips and a big grey reef shark who came to say hello. All in all, a great dive at Belongas Bay with mild conditions but definitely one for the low season as it is open to the waves in the high season looking forward to doing a few more dives on it before naming it and putting it on the map.