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Rules of Engagement

Code of Conduct Now in Place for Divers Visiting Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan

(9/16/2012) The Coral Triangle Center (CTC) in cooperation with diver operators at Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, and the Bali chapter of the Association of Indonesian Water Sports Operators (GAHAWISRI) have established a code of conduct for operators and water sports enthusiasts regarding Manta Rays and Mola-mola Fish.

As reported by Beritabali.com, Nusa Penida is one of Bali’s premier diving locations. According to a survey conducted by CTC, Nusa Penida is home to 300 types of coral and 576 species of fish spread across 1,400 hectares. Nusa Penida is also home to a mangrove forest covering 230 hectares and 108 hectares of a shallow coastal ecosystem.

One of the distinguishing unique features of Nusa Penida is its role as a cleaning station for the giant Mola-Mola Sunfish. Capable of growing to 2-3 meters, the Mola-mola venture into the shallow seas areas surrounding Nusa Penida at certain periods of the year in order to cleanse themselves of parasites, a process aided by resident angle fish.

The seasonal appearance of the Mola-mola at Nusa Penida draws large numbers of divers from around the world during the July-September season. The most popular locations for Mola-mola sightings are
Blue Corner (Jungut Batu Village), Ceningan Wall (Lembongan village), Crystal Bay (Sakti village), Toyapakeh, and Sental (Ped village).

The popularity of these sites to divers has resulted in damage to the environment and threatens the large starfish when divers try to get too close to photograph the giant fish.

The new Code of Conduct stipulates that divers will not touch or hold the Mola-mola or Manta Rays. Other rules forbid divers from swimming under the Mola-mola to prevent compressed air bubbles from frightening the fish.

Rules also stipulate that divers cannot approach the Mola-mola from behind and only go near the fish when they are safely in the cleaning areas. Photographers are urged to minimize the use of underwater flash unit out of concern for the fish.

Visitors are also told not to block the Mola-mola or Manta Rau and to never try to feed the fish.

The new Code of Conduct for divers will eventually form the basis of rules covering the Nusa Penida Conservation Area.