DiveRACE Coral Planting Trip to Bali

Coral Planting

We departed on an early morning flight from Singapore to Bali for our much anticipated coral planting trip. The objective was to pick up skills and tips on how to encourage coral growth and enjoy some leisure diving at the same time over the next few days.

Logistics and hotel stay were arranged entirely by Living Seas, who is based in Bali. It definitely made life easy for the 8 of us as we just needed to appear for our holiday!

Kuta Beach was filled with people enjoying themselves, playing beach soccer or surfing along the coast. Do be ready to be surrounded by the ladies who offer bangles and massages when you are seated there. Support the local economy if you can! Lucky Boon Leong even got a free 5 minutes massage. LOL!

There are also many boutique shops along the busy roads that sells everything from clothes to art. It is truly amazing to see creativity and craftwork of the locals. Bali also got some delicious Indonesian food there too! If you ever are in Bali, you got to try the Babi Guling, nasi padang, dirty duck rice and many many more!

We also did a 13km white water rafting along the Telaga Waja River, which was filled with adventure and interesting sceneries. Highly recommended as a group activity!

Day 1 – Macro Haven Padang Bai

The famous Padang Bai Jetty is a macro haven for divers. Originally built as a jetty for cruise ship, it was not used due to lapse in the construction standards. The silty bottom composition attracts load of life and divers with a keen eye would be able to spot many unique sea creatures that resides under the jetty.

Our group managed to spot quite a few creatures – leaf scorpion fish, octopus, juvenile angelfish, different nudibranchs, etc. This is definitely a dive site that we can dive over and over again! The next 2 dives on our traditional boat were nearby (“Bias” and “Channel”) which were similar in offering macro life. It was especially easy to spot nudibranchs everywhere that you looked. The dives were shallow and there was not much currents to deal with, thus, making it perfect for underwater photography.

Day 2 – Diving at the famous Nusa Penida

We received news that Mola-Molas were spotted at Crystal Bay dive site a few days before and we hoped that we will be lucky too. The water was slightly chilly as we arrived via a speedboat and that was a good sign. However, the diving was tedious due to the strong current and we had to work on our leg muscles. Alas, mola-molas decided that they did not want to be out today, we turned back towards the safety of the bay. We did, however, get to see a huge turtle and a really fat banded sea krait during the dive.

Upon reaching Manta Point, the boat crew immediately shouted “Manta!” as black silhouettes moved swiftly under the surface of the water. Their fin tips occasionally appearing out of the water, as though teasing us to come join them. We quickly entered the water and dived with more than 10 different individuals! Large and small reef mantas with different belly markings danced non-stop around us for the entire 50 minutes dive. We were mesmerised by these gentle giants. A truly remarkable experience, especially for those who seen them for the very first time!

The next dive site was P.E.E.D. which was just a short distance away. Calm water with a slight current made this an easy dive as we move along the sloppy terrain. The corals here were rich and had lots of life. So calm that i could even do a perfect bubble ring!

Day 3 – Coral Planting!

The day started out with the blaring sun on our faces. We were back at the same beach at Padang Bai and were briefed on what to do for the dives. Quickly setting off on the boats with the concrete blocks to the dive site, all of us were excited. Our first objective was to bring the concrete blocks down and place it at different locations. This would allow us to have a comparison (after a period of time) on which location is better for coral growth. The diving gods tested our determination as strong underwater currents raged on even though the surface was calm. Through proper instructions and manoeuvring, we managed to bring all 6 blocks underwater safely.

Collection of the corals was rather a simple affair. We were tasked to pick up suitable sized broken hard coral pieces that were still alive on the ground. Hopefully by picking them up and placing them unto the bottles, it would give them a chance at survival and encourage new growth.

The group started to place the corals into the bottle necks and used ice cream sticks as support. Glue was then applied as a precaution in the event of any mishap that may dislodge the coral. Dead ends that were too large were also trimmed down and removed. Corals that were too big to fit into the bottle necks were instead placed in between the bottles.

Working in teams of four, we quickly filled up all of the concrete blocks. Joakim and Agus from Livingseas assisted with the task too!

Once all the blocks were filled, we left satisfied as we survived the strong currents and still managed to clear all our objectives. We sincerely hope that the corals will show signs of growth when other divers return in a month’s time to monitor it.

Our Thoughts!

DiveRACE hopes to give back to the environment by learning new skills such as the coral planting project. We can impart these knowledge to other regions that our liveaboard sails to, such as Thailand. With more divers getting involved in such projects, we will educate and spread awareness which is critical to saving our precious environment!

Lionel Lim

Always wonder how awesome it would be to talk to fishes