Diving the Restored Reefs of Pemuteran
With its rich marine’s life and scenic underwater vista backed with its many travelers accommodation, diving in Bali has become a more popular activity. Recognized as a divine asset for both the island and the world, the government of Bali has begun to build a project to conserve the marine’s beauty of this island in its various dive sites, but in particular in Pemuteran.
As a small fishing village on the northern coast of West Bali, Pemuteran made their lives on the waters near them. However, due to use of bombs and cyanide by fishermen, excessively high water temperatures linked to global warming, affected by El Niño and other stresses have made its coral reefs severely damaged in recent years. While the village residents have taken action to prevent use of these destructive methods in their reefs, the amount of damage was so great that action was urgently needed to restore reef habitat for tourism and fisheries.
That is when Yos Amerta, President of Gahawisri (the Bali Branch of the Indonesian Watersports Federation), invited Wolf Hilbertz and Tom Goreau to start restoration projects in Bali, and perhaps the largest restoration projects in the world, by building coral nurseries using the Electrolytic Mineral Accretion Technology a.k.a. Biorock. Corals that were grown on mineral accretion are exceptionally brightly colored and rapidly growing, supporting dense fish populations, and are more resistant to all environmental stresses except bombs and poisons. So far, due to the participation of both its villagers and outsiders alike, the project has proven to be a well-deserved success. And now diving in Pemuteran area offers unique experiences, as divers may dive around to see the various shapes and structures of the artificial reef and the remarkable recovery of the marine habitat by their own eyes.
Visitors mainly arrive in Pemuteran on the north coast road from Lovina or Singaraja or from the west at Gilimanuk. You might try to get here by using the bemos plying the north coast road, but it would be better by renting a car with the driver to take you from Lovina to Pemuteran – as it had a fixed price compared to the slow and extremely crowded bemos. There is also a direct ride to Pemuteran from tourist centers in the south and it takes about four hours to get there depending on the traffic.
The Pemuteran dive site is unique because no other part of Bali has such large areas of shallow reefs, and these reefs are accessible to divers and snorkelers because the region lacks of the extremely strong currents and waves that characterize other coastal areas of Bali. This submerged reef rises to 5 meters from the surface and slopes down to 30 meters to the north, providing some easy paced scuba diving in north-west Bali. Diving is straight off the beach. The water is warm, about 27°C -29°C. Visibility can be as low as 10 meters. What is surprising is that there is so much to see in Pemuteran bay itself. You may see things like Seahorses, Crabs and Frogfishes within a few meters from the shoreline. The usual marine life consist of schooling Jacks, Snapper, redeye Bass, Trevally, Batfish, Sweetlips, Angelfish, Damselfish and Fusiliers. There are also several Frogfishes, Cuttlefishes, Crocodilefishes, Pipefishes, variations of Nudibranch, Stonefishes, Scorpionfishes, Octopuses, Eels, Mandarinfishes and Ghost Pipefish. If you are lucky, there are occasional Sharks, Barracudas, Tunas, Bumphead Parrotfishes, Turtles, Potato cods, Dolphins and large Rays.
With vibrant and colorful fishes and corals, gentle currents, Pemuteran has become an excellent dive site for most less experienced divers.