Snorkeling off Menjangan Island

z sunfishIn Bali’s extreme northwest corner is a large national park, Taman Nasional Bali Barat, that includes land as well as a large area of coastal reefs. On our family visit everyone was keen to snorkel off Menjangan Island, a part of the park. Everyone but me that is; I don’t much like water and especially water over my head so I just hung out while the bunch of Hemers and Stephen hired a boat and guide. Their guide had a camera outfitted to take underwater photos so I put together a collection of some of them here. Some of these creatures are very colorful while others hide with perfect camouflage.

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The northern coast where we spent several days has experienced some tragic degradation to its ecology in the past. First, the colorful fish are threatened by over harvesting for the aquarium trade. Also turtles are endangered because they are desirable as a special food. Corals on the reefs have been damaged mostly because they are harvested to use as a source of building materials or as a result of dynamiting for fish.

In the area around Pemuteran, a popular resort and vacation spot, there are a number of projects meant to remedy that. Just offshore at our resort, Taman Sari, there is an experimental coral restoration project (http://tamansaribali.com/coral-restoration-project/). Apparently applying an electrical current to metal framework causes corals planted there to grow at a rate five times normal. A raft within swimming distance of the beach is outfitted with photovoltaic panels for a research project to measure the effectiveness of the technique.

Several kilometers away a turtle rescue and breeding project is underway (www.wonderfulbali.com/turtle-hatchery-pemuteran/). Fishermen are taught about the problems of over harvesting, taught to recognize signs of illness among turtles and to bring ill as well as animals injured during fishing in for care and rehabilitation. Additionally locals are paid a small amount for turtle eggs that are then hatched and reared in the facility for later release. Raising the level of awareness is leading to cooperation in these sustainability efforts. Protecting reefs, reducing over fishing and illegal harvest of fish and turtles will eventually help the local population.

 

 

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