06 April, 2009

Seraya Secrets - the Secret is Out!!

In October 2003, world renowned underwater photojournalist, underwater magazine and book author and multiple winner of international underwater photo contests over several years Michael Aw revisited Bali on an extended field trip to observe and photograph changes to Bali’s known dive sites and discover new ones. At the time, Scuba Seraya Resort was a small, modest affair and a mere 3 years into making. Little was known of the dive site ‘just in front’. Michael visited, and had this to say:
“Sometimes, unexpectedly, one will stumble upon a gold mine and, if you are shortsighted, and I mean literally, you may even miss the opportunity. It was timely for us to visit Patrick Schwarz, a Swiss expat who had set up a small dive resort some three kilometers from Tulamben Bay, 10 minutes away from his beach front property. On my first dive, I blew off 132 frames, equivalent to 3.6 rolls of film in just 30 minutes. This new hot spot of critters is without a doubt among the best in the world, matching sites in Lembeh Strait (North Sulawesi) and Papua New Guinea. During one afternoon dive I recorded 41 species of nudibranch and flatworms, beating a personal record of 28 off Nudi Falls at Lembeh Strait. Minuscule orange and yellow frog fish are not uncommon; but one with transparent polka dot dorsal fins is a species that has yet to be published in any identification book and is not known to Dr. Gerry Allen, one of the world’s best known ichthyologists.
Of course, there are the usual suspects – Ghost pipefish, Bobbitt worms, Boxer crabs, octopus, Ornamental squid, Sand divers, Frogfishes, Stonefish, Sand eels, Sand anemones, tons and tons of strange Crab’s shrimps, Flat worms and I was fascinated to photograph one of the most exquisite psychedelic colored Tiger shrimp (Phylognathia ceratophthalma).
I was so impressed with this new hot-spot, which we now call Seraya Secrets after Patrick Schwarz’s resort, that of course I stayed to continue diving there for the next three days, abruptly putting an end to the live-aboard trip and my intention to circumnavigate the island of Bali. I am sure news will travel fast through cyberspace and hundreds of macro enthusiasts will land on Patrick’s doorstep in a flash to discover the critters of Seraya Secrets.
As I have learnt, Bali remains predictable – the island oozes with enchanting culture, the people are the most charming within a fabric of diverse culture in a country of 230 million, and the sea predictably promises surprise after surprise”.
News did travel fast indeed – as predicted by Michael Aw. Today, Seraya Secrets is a must dive mark on most diver’s itineraries to Tulamben, besides the other Tulamben ‘classic’ dive sites. Seraya Secrets even got its own dive flag marker on newer Bali maps and is automatically mentioned in all trip reports and articles to the area. The secret’s out – Seraya Secrets is ‘no secret no more’.
Michael Aw continues to visit regularly and he holds a week long digital underwater photography workshop at Scuba Seraya Resort once a year. What better way than to learn from the pro’s whilst having one of the world’s richest macro grounds at your doorstep!
Patrick Schwarz is a Dive Instructor and owner and founder of the Scuba Seraya Resort at Tulamben on Bali’s north-east coast. He has lived in Tulamben and dived and learned to love the underwater realm around Bali Since 1997 patrick@scubaseraya.com http://www.scubaseraya.com/

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