by Tika Dewi

Starting from June to September, Bali is filled with divers from all over the world who want to encounter the cute Ocean Sunfish. Most of the dive centers in Bali gather in Crystal Bay, and try their luck to satisfy their customers desire for this unique marine life.

Photo by Kinden K on FlickrThe water in Nusa Penida is generally cold during mid year to October; the water temperature can drop down till 15 centigrade or even less. However, divers are eager to seek the chance to meet Mola. Crystal Bay is one of several spots around Nusa Penida, (an island off the south east of Bali), where divers spot Mola mola most of the time.

The landscape and the seascape of Crystal Bay are both equally exquisite. The beauty of Crystal Bay underwater is intriguing with the occurance of a very strong current that goes to the north and to the south and sometimes even blends with strong down current. At this site, there have been several unlucky divers and divers who neglect safety taken by the current and missing in action. It is a sad story indeed and a reminder for other fellow diver that safety in conducting any dive is important.

Encountering the Mola mola, there is several codes of conducts that very beneficial to follow. First of all, the ocean sunfish swim to the shallow to get it’s body cleaned by the cleaner fish, such as long banner butterfly fish, damsel, etc. Do not chase the mola which is not yet station as the fish may feel threatened and swim away to the deep and if the current come by, it might be to hard to go back to the safe area. It is necessary for this deep-sea dweller to get cleaned as on their body live thousands bacteria and parasites, so Do Not Disturb! Do not touch, because on their skin there is a layer of mucus that protects their skin from the hazardous parasites.

Diving in Crystal Bay:

  1. Check the current from the boat. It is always an option to ask the captain about the status of the current.
  2. Crystal Bay, especially if you want to see Mola, is a site available for certified advance divers and levels above.
  3. Proper equipment is required.
  4. Listen to the briefing given by the dive guides.
  5. Start the dive from the bay and follow the slope.
  6. Get close to the wall but don’t break the coral.
  7. Hook is necessary if the strong current catches you.
  8. Know your limit.
  9. Remember! There is nothing more beautiful than a safe dive.

Fun Fact about Mola mola

  1. Mola mola derives from Latin for millstone. It is a reference to the fish’s disk-like shape.
  2. Mola mola dodn’t have a tail. Instead, they have an appendage called a clavus.
  3. An ocean sunfish’s color can vary from brown to gray or silvery, or even almost white. They may also have spots.
  4. Ocean sunfish like to eat jellyfish. They will also eat salps, small fish,plankton, algae, mollusks, brittle stars.
  5. Ocean sunfish live in tropical and temperate waters, and they may be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean and Indian Oceans
  6. ‘playing dead’? It may look like it’s dead. That’s because ocean sunfish are often seen lying on their sides at the surface, sometimes flapping their dorsal fin.
  7. Their activities: They may undertake long, deep dives in cold water in search of their favorite prey, jellyfish, and may use the warm sun at the surface to re-heat themselves and aid digestion. They may also use the warm, oxygen-rich surface water to recharge their oxygen stores. And most interestingly, they may be at the surface to attract seabirds from above or fish from below to clean their skin of parasites. Some sources suggest that the waving of the fin is what is used to attract the birds.
  8. They spend more time at the ocean surface at night.
  9. Ocean sunfish are one of the most fertile species. Sunfish produce lots of eggs, the eggs are tiny, and are basically scattered into the water, so their chances of survival are relatively small.
  10. Ocean sunfish are not dangerous to humans. In fact…OUR presence threatens them.

Photo by Kinden K on Flickr