Macro Hunting at PJ

Puri Jati has been buzzing around Bali as the hottest place to see macro, finally we made it up to do a quick survey at Rizal's insistence as his friend Herry was visiting from Jakarta and we wanted to offer him the chance to try a new dive site, we agreed to give it a go on the next Sunday.

Saturday afternoon Hengky and I were eating lunch in Sanur when he suggested that we stop by the tropical aquarium store on Jl. Hang Tuah. I thought we were going to have a quick look around and give Gegek a reason to smile. I was unprepared for Hengky to suffer a small meltdown and insist that we buy and release the three eels suffering life in a tank. Eighty thousand rupiah later we were the proud owners of some very nice eels, the white one I had never even seen before (see photos below).

We set off early Sunday morning, leaving HQ at promptly 6:21, actually we had agreed to leave much earlier, but a certain someone whose name may or may not rhyme with Bizal refused to wake up, I know, this is a first for him (hehehe). Anyway, we were on the road, passing through Bedugul and Lovina (where we had a scrumptious breakfast) before reaching the Puri Jati dive sites just past Seririt, enjoying Rizal's Best of Cheesy Love Songs music mixes along the way.

After arriving, we set up our gear on the tarp provided by the koperasi nelayan laut biru (the blue sea fishing cooperative) and got ready for our first dive at Puri Jati. This entailed photographing our eel specimens (none of us have an underwater camera) and deciding who would handle the fiercest (not me!).

We were ready to go! Wading into the water gently lapping at the black sand beach, we acclimated our eels to the water in their plastic bags at the surface before ensuring that all air was released and descending. On the count of three (signal, that is), Hengky, Rizal and I released our eels (not far from the eel garden at the site). After chatting briefly with the native eels (that's what it looked like to me), we observed our eels as they made their first journey back into the big blue ocean. The before-mentioned fiercest zebra eel was the first to take off, heading out towards the wide waters, we are certain that he did okay. The second to make a strong survival decision was the polka dot eel which rapidly buried itself in the sand, leaving only it's nostrils sticking out. We had reason to worry about the white eel, however, which seemed to be headed straight for the beach and whose fate is unknown.

Saying goodbye, we headed down for our dive, poking around the sand, garbage (not very much) and sea plants to look for interesting critters. This first dive lasted a whopping 93 minutes as most of the time was spent above 10 meters before we realized that the site does eventually drop off to around 30 meters. In that time, we saw two octopi- one hiding in a piece of bamboo, the other in a soda can, a cuttlefish, an interesting nudibranch (we don't have the book so I can't ID it), and lots of small crabs and shrimp. At the end of the dive Hengky pulled his usual "out-of-air" and we started to leisurely swim back toward the beach. Then, suddenly Rizal was sucking on one of Hengky's regulators. It was hysterical to watch Rizal's face as he realized that Hengky's tank was indeed empty (hence why he was using mine for the safety stop) and even funnier to see the two of them trying to buddy breathe- although in their attempts at this they had beat me into the sand, so how much did I really see? Despite this high drama, we made it safely back ashore and spent our surface interval at Wayan's warung eating noodles.

Ready for dive two. This time we decided to head west rather than east. We also proposed to get deeper faster and not spend so much time "mucking" around- sorry, couldn't help myself. On the way we met a few pipe seahorses, a devil scorpionfish that I shook out of a piece of cloth buried in the sand, a very edible looking crab which scared the bejezus out of Rizal, and finally climaxed (literally) with one of the most beautiful, amazing, incredible and, yes, orgasmic critter I have ever seen, a fabulous translucent, purple/white/hints of green spiky SEAHORSE clinging onto a piece of (what I call broccoli) soft coral by its sexy little tail.

As I sat agog in front of this thing drooling from my reg, wonderful Rizal decided to turn off my air, which I didn't even notice until too late as I was so absored with Mr. Seahorse (yes, I am now obsessed and head over heels in love with the thing). Hengky rescued me with his reg, air back on we discovered we were in deco and it was time to head back up. Slowly we made our way back to the shallows and finished our safety stops (except Rizal, whose Vytec had decided it didn't want to work that day).

We towelled off and packed up and decided to take the scenic route home via Munduk. Monitoring ourselves for signs of illness climbing higher and higher into the mountains, we finally stopped at a small warung on the side of the road for tea and mangoes (and the view, of course). We then winded our way slowly back through Bedugul, stopping at Bali Scuba and Hard Rock on the way- Don't ask- finally arriving back at HQ after 7 ready to call for bungkus and tuck into some of the KSDC official beverage!