This is one of the latest ‘discoveries’ among the Tulamben area’s dive sites. It was named by famed underwater journalist and book author Michael Aw after the new beachfront Scuba Seraya Resort at the center of Muntig Bay in October 2003 (see article Seraya Secrets – the secret is out in a separate section of this book). The name ‘Seraya’ was ‘borrowed’ from nearby Mt. Seraya. At 1174m elevation it towers ver Bali’s north-eastern peninsula, pointing into the ‘Indonesian Through-Flow’ current swept Lombok Strait. At Mount Seraya’s coral encrusted foot lie some of Bali’s – if not Indonesia’s – most beautiful dive sites. Regulars have divided this dive site into 3 sub-sites: Noisy Reef, Seraya Secrets and Deep Secrets.
Noisy Reef to the west is immediately facing the new Villa Marquisa resort. A miniature reef measuring approximately 50x200m, starting about 20m offshore and ranging from the surface to about 12m maximum depth, it can be compared with Tulamben Bay’s ‘Coral Garden’, albeit lacking the latter’s perfection and with considerably less hard coral. Still, it makes for a beautiful dive; it’s name Noisy Reef came about from the huge number of juvenile reef fish that are found here and are known for their endless clicks and clatter and smacking sounds telling the underwater realm’s moniker ‘silent world’ lies. Schools of juvenile blue Triggerfish flutter in large numbers above the hard coral but will hide, well, sort of, in the nearest hole or cranny as soon as a diver approaches. They appear to be not so smart fish; ‘I can’t see you so you don’t see me’ seems to be their conviction, as into whatever opening their flight took them, their long forked tails will always stick out and give them away! At the outer edge at around 12m, the reef turns into a black sandy slope. Large numbers of blue dotted Stingrays congregate here, some of them buried deep in the sand. They, in contrast, will take off in a hurry, leaving a dark cloud, as soon as a diver comes too close for comfort.
Seraya Secrets these days known as ‘the beef’ of all sites for naturalists and underwater photographers. To a novice diver who is not as yet accustomed to the minute beauty of the Indo Pacific’s marine macro life, compared to the ship wreck; the place may as well be dead. Take the trained eye of an experienced naturalist or photographer, however, and Seraya Secrets becomes Critter Heaven. The macro bonanza starts as soon as one is able to submerge in water just knee deep: Shore crab, juvenile Moray eels, Lion fish, Anemone Shrimp, Needle Shrimp, Zebra Crab, Coral Shrimp, Nudibranch, Ghost pipe fish, Boxer crab, Coleman shrimp, Frog fish, Mimicking Octopus, Decorator crab, Scorpion Fish; the list is endless. The rare Harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera picta) has become the trade mark of Seraya Secrets: During 2008, it was there for the entire year but one week, after a storm had gone thru and they hid or went to much deeper water. The site is dotted with small rocks or pieces of coral that would give footage to Feather stars and form individual mini ecosystems. Some of the larger systems have evolved into cleaning stations where fish such as the Coral groupers, Sweetlips or, in the larger systems, Moray eels, would have their mouths and gills cleaned’ tiny shrimp picking out parasites in perfect symbiosis. One larger station at 17m has its resident Black spotted moray that became a star overnight when it graced a full page in the October 2005 issue of National Geographic Magazine!
One large, busy cleaning station can be found at 35m. It sits on an underwater ridge. Approaching divers can point it out from a distance by a school of Banner fish fluttering above. It forms a sort of mini-reef and hence has several reef fish inhabitants such as Angel fish, Coral trout and Wrasses. This cleaning station often attracts large pelagics, and Spotted eagle ray have been seen here, and most recently Dolphins, while one lucky group had a Whale Shark cruise buy while on the look out for this station. Regulars have named this site Deep Secrets.