Thursday, May 20, 2010

Diving Tulamben

We started today with a dawn dive at the USS Liberty, a well known cargo ship sunk during WWII. Tulamben has one main road parallel to the beach and dive shops line this road. The wreck is dived from shore as the top is in 5m of water and the bottom around 30m. From where I am staying at Paradise Hotel, we walked along the beach to the wreck, geared up on shore, and waded into the water. Porters carry your tanks for you. The Liberty is best dove in the early morning or at night to avoid the day trippers, who arrive around 10am and leave around 3pm.

The seascape is sloping black sand with patches of anemones and coral. The wreck is huge and lies on its side. It is covered in marine growth and is very fishy. The first thing we saw was a school of 20+ bumphead parrotfish at 8m. They must have been sleepy as they didn't mind us getting very close. We did a tour of the wreck (which took a while due to its size) and caught a huge school of jacks right in front of us. With this much life, it is no wonder that the Liberty is as famous as it is.

We did the next 2 dives in the sandy area surrounding the Liberty to avoid the crowds. The area has some seriously good muck diving. We saw wire coral gobies and shrimp, xeno crabs, nudis, anemone shrimp, pipefish, clownfish, and a leaf scorpionfish.

There were lots of divers during our night dive on the Liberty. It's a big wreck so that's mostly ok but there were times when there were a lot of lights going on at the same time. This time, we didn't see much apart from a few nudis, sleeping reef fish (including several large groupers), and sleeping bumphead parrotfish. They were still enough to get some shots but I thought it best to let them sleep in peace.

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