We are now in Amed. The topography here has somewhat changed; the closer we get to mount Seraya to the east, the steeper the shoreline becomes. Large bommies that were formed by big rocks that fell from the high cliffs above give footage to a wild array of hard coral, giving the Amed sites a somewhat more ‘dramatic’ appeal, commensurate with its terrestrial surroundings.
Jemeluk Bay, a large sandy cove with a village and many fishing boats has two sites, both of them widely known and considered the ‘Amed classics’. To the west is a very large reef formation, who’s top extends 200 and more meters off shore, where it will gradually descend, the drop getting steeper and steeper as you go east, eventually tumbling into a vertical wall that bottoms out at 45m and rivals the one at the ‘Drop Off’. It is often swept by a mild to medium current, picking up somewhat in speed around waxing and full moon. But this is not a problem; as this site can only be accessed by boat anyway, have the skipper follow you and enjoy the ride. Another benefit of the current is that this site sports some of the best visibility in the Tulamben-Amed area, often in excess of 30m. A healthy number of timid white- and black tip reef shark patrol this area, as well as at least one full grown Napoleon wrasse and a number of Humphead parrot fish. At its eastern end, just before it gives way to the sandy bottom of the bay, a deep V is shaped out of the wall, both sides thickly overgrown with a profusion of soft and hard coral, the bottom turning into a 45 degree gradient sand slope at almost 50m depth, the top giving way to the reef flat at 12m at a sharp 90 degrees angle. At the end of my last dive there, while ascending facing the wall, the moment l reached the reef flat I found myself face to face with a black tip reef shark. I can’t remember who was more perplexed, but the shark didn’t seem to bother, taking off slowly over my head and glide along the wall to lie down again in the sand at its bottom. If you have read the above passage carefully this will tell you something about the visibility that prevailed on that day!
To the east of Jemeluk Bay is another large reef formation. The reef top actually starts inside the bay and is also a great, protected snorkeling area. This shallow top had been badly damaged during the 1997 El Nino and 1998 La Nina, when most of the large Arcopora table coral was destroyed. Larger bommies of brain coral, albeit bleached, remained and provided footage to a profusion of soft coral. It is therefore still a very beautiful spot, and the Arcopora variety has since staged a come-back. At places, while not yet dinner table size, they have reached at least dinner plate size again. The reef is very much alive. As you follow its edge out of the bay, you would turn east at which point it would drop very steep, almost forming a wall, to around 40m. It is rich and fully intact and sports some big reef fish varieties, including some really large and deep red colored coral groupers. Unfortunately this also includes some ‘mothers’ of Titan triggerfish that can be a real pest when they are nesting. Twice a year, for about two weeks, they make it a sport to attack divers. Nothing dangerous really, but these fellows won’t normally give in before the diver (yours very truly included) finds himself back in the boat or way out in the blue and away from the reef at the surface! An average diver would last long enough on a single tank to dive the entire length of this reef to its end after about 500 meters and close to shore; this is a very rich area also and makes for a perfect safety stop at 5m.
Photo by Tulamben resident photojournalist Jeff Mullins of Jemeluk bay, with Mount Agung in the background. The two reef areas to the west (top) and the east (bottom) are clearly visibly; the surf is breaking on the reef top above ‘Amed Wall’