Friday, April 23, 2010

Pygmy seahorses in Tulamben, Bali

Sipadan Water Village (SWV) is probably the resort that we enjoy most thus far. 
The touch of the hardwood floor and walls, the absence of sand flies, the delicious food, the friendly staff... all these have led us to put our dream of going to faraway Maldives for the time being... paradise is at our front door, why go far away to search for one? 
  
Some time ago, the dive guide suggested that we go see the pygmy seahorse at Seaventures dive site, which is just off SWV. Why not, we thought. 
Now, Seaventures is a dive resort made up of an abandoned oil rig dragged in from somewhere.
From the wooden comforts of SWV, one can't help noticing how ugly the structure is. 
Down under the oil-rig-turned-dive-resort lies that pygmy seahorse, and as we already knew from our earlier dives there, very strong currents. 
Very, very strong, I mean. 

We back-rolled and descended immediately, holding on to a rope tightly buoyed.
The currents literally made us hang perpendicular to the rope, very much like the 'kois' flying perpendicular to the flag poles in early May (Boys' Day) in Japan. 
Maneuvering the currents, we took turns to ogle at the creature. 
I managed to snap a few pictures but can you figure out how to shoot a subject the size of a flea (OK, I am exaggerating a little) while trying to stay still in strong currents? No way...
My missus and I had to signal the guide, figuratively slitting our throats, 'out of air' as we ascended, again in perpendicular position to the rope. Wooh... no joke, both our air gauges showed zeros...

Fast forward to our trip to Tulamben.... the so-called world's easiest wreck dive site, the Liberty...

Reviewing my pictures, I was surprised to count 5 different specimens of pygmy seahorses, all documented in photos. And no strong currents a la Seaventures... 

This shot is probably the 'best' one of them all. 
Size was probably about one centimeters or so. 
Pretty cute little thing, don't you think?

The dive guide was very excited to see this cutie. 
I wondered why. 
He grabbed my camera and kept on shooting excitedly. 
He later told me how lucky we were to be able to see 
a pygmy seahorse frolicking in a fully opened gorgonian fan. 
Hmmm, how true, and lucky we were, I suppose.