Octopus – Masters of Camouflage

Octopus, Squids and Cuttlefish are among the few marine creatures that can camouflage themselves by completely changing the feel and color of their skin.

Also known as the chameleon of the sea, Cephalopods (the scientific name for mollusks with arms attached to their heads) pose the ability to change the color and texture of their skin to either match their surroundings or make them stand out to other underwater animals.

Here’s how it works:

Underneath their skin, they have special cells that are filled with different colors, called chromatophores. These small balloon-like elastic sacs contain a pigment that can vary from black, brown, orange, red to yellow. 

By using a network of finely controlled muscles, cephalopods can either stretch or contract these color-changing cells, to make them appear either brighter or darker. When the sacs are for example stretched the color appears brighter, as the color pigments are spaced out on a bigger surface. The opposite effect occurs when the cells are in a contracted or relaxed state. 

But their camouflage features don’t end here. Besides chromatophores, some cephalopods also have other cells, which give them the ability to change the surface texture of their skin to mimic the texture of rocks, corals or other nearby objects. This added layer of small reflecting plates (called papillae) can create fine bumps, high ridges or even spikey horns that they can deploy to match their surroundings. 

The reasons why they do this include:

  • to hide and make themselves invisible to predators
  • to sneak up and hunt possible prey
  • or as means of communication to either 
    – warn others with bright colours to stay away (a great example of this would be the extremely venomous blue-ringed octopus) or
    – attract the attention of females for reproduction

Fun Fact: The Mimic Octopus has a unique way of camouflaging. Rather than blending in with the seafloor, it changes its skin color and how it moves its tentacles to take on the shape of other sea creatures. It has been known to impersonate more than 15 different marine species, including flounders, lionfish, and sea snakes.

To learn more about our oceans and their fascinating inhabitants, make sure to check out previous articles.

5 Reasons Why We Need to Protect Coral Reefs

Known as the ‘Rainforest of the Ocean’, Coral Reefs can be found all over the globe. Not only are they beautiful to look at, with their diversity in vibrant colors and textures, but they are also extremely important to keep the ocean’s ecosystem in check. 

Unfortunately, in a recent development, coral reefs are deteriorating and dying at an alarming rate due to human and natural pressures that range from overfishing and human destruction to ocean acidification and climate change. 

Here are 5 reasons why we need Coral Reefs and should therefore protect them:

1. Biodiversity

Coral Reefs are home to more than a  ¼ of all marine animals on the planet. Thousands of species can be found living on one reef only and a greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms.

2. Coastal Protection

With their massive formations between the surface and the first few dozen meters of depth, coral reefs form a protective barrier that absorbs the elements coming from the open sea. They absorb wave energy and contribute to the reduction of coastal erosion and therefore reduce damage in the event of storms, hurricanes and other natural disasters. This way, they protect both the ecosystems between the reefs and the coasts, as well as civilization along the coast. Humans have even started to recreate this effective strategy by immersing concrete structures along some of our more fragile coastlines, as some islands would no longer exist without this safety measure.

3. Economy

Millions of people around the world depend on reefs for food, protection, and employment. Especially the tourism sector and local economies benefit from intact Coral Reefs, as visitors from all over the world come to admire their reefs by snorkeling or scuba diving to explore them. If managed sustainably, respectfully meaning handling reefs by limiting the destruction and pollution-induced by this same tourism, especially when it comes to mass tourism, can provide a sustainable income source for coastal communities in developing countries.

4. MEDICinal Research

Coral organisms and their defense adaptabilities are of great interest in the search for treatments for certain cancers or the aging of cells. Since, so far, only a small fraction of organisms have been sampled, analyzed, and tested, the potential for new pharmaceutical discoveries is enormous.

5. Food resource

Worldwide, coral reefs play a vital role in providing food for more than 500 million people living on or near the coast. Coral reefs provide about 10% of the fish caught worldwide. But this figure rises to 20-25% in developing countries, and 70-90% in Southeast Asian countries.


WHAT CAN WE DO TO PROTECT CORALS ?

Now that we know plenty of reasons why we should protect coral reefs, let’s take a quick look at what we can do to help to preserve them.

There are plenty of lifestyle choices in our everyday life that would, in the long run, help the overall environment, coral reefs included.

Most important of all:  Reducing our waste, especially reducing our use of single-use plastic. Proper disposal of trash, choosing more environmentally friendly means of transportation, saving energy and water in ours home, help to limit our impact on the environment. 

As a diver or watersports fan remember to practice safe and responsible diving and snorkeling. Avoid touching reefs or anchoring a boat on a reef. This is very likely to damage or even kill the delicate coral. 

Also, check if your sunscreen is coral-safe. Some ingredients in regular sunscreen can be harmful or even toxic to corals. Or just avoid using a lot of sunscreen by protecting your skin with a rashguard or long-sleeved shirt.

If you share our fascination for the ocean and want to know more about marine life, scuba diving, underwater photography, and much more, check out other articles on our website.

Top 5 Micro Marine Animals in Amed

Whether you’re into Macro Photography or just want to take a closer look at the variety of small underwater creatures: this article might help you to find and identify some of the most fascinating little critters Amed area has to offer.

Nr. 1- Nudibranch and other sea slugs

Starting off with one of the most diverse marine animals in matters of shape, size and colour: the Nudibranch. Their scientific name, Nudibranchia, means ‘naked gills’ and describes the feathery gills and horns that most wear on their backs.

With over 3,000 different species, you will not get bored searching for these beautiful little creatures. Their size can range from 0.25 inches (around half a centimeter) to as big as 12 inches (around 30 centimeters), but their bright, colourful appearance usually makes them quite easy to spot. When muck diving the chances are high to find “nudis” (as most Nudibranch connoisseurs refer to them), but they can also be found on a variety of different corals, rocks or sandy slopes. Amed Wall, Ghost Bay or Tulamben Drop Off are generally great choices for a successful Nudi-Hunt.

Hypselodoris Bullocki at Pyramids

Nr. 2 – Frogfish

It is quite more difficult to spot this micro marine creature: the frogfish. They have the ability to “mimic” their surroundings in both form and color which makes them masters of camouflage. These grumpy looking anglerfish are usually found camouflaged in sea fans, sponges, rocks or among the sand. Their colours can vary from yellow, pinkish red, white to full-on red. The best dive spots in Amed for finding frogfish are Ghost Bay (especially at night), Jemeluk Bay, Tulamben Wall or Drop-Off.

Red Painted Frogfish at Ghost Bay

Nr. 3 – Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

Cephalopods are the most intelligent, most mobile and the largest suborder of molluscs. Squids, Octopuses, Cuttlefish and their relatives display remarkable diversity in size and lifestyle with adaptations for predation, locomotion, disguise, and communication. These “brainy” invertebrates have evolved suckered tentacles, camera-like eyes, color-changing skin, and complex learning behavior. A great variety of them can be found along the coasts of Bali and if you look hard enough and explore each and every crevice you’ll be sure to spot some common reef squids, bobtail squids, pygmy and broadclub cuttlefish, coconut and mimic octopuses or even a blue ringed octopus (makes sure to stay away from this one, as they are extremely venomous and one of the most dangerous animals in the ocean). 

Specifically in the Amed area you should check out Jemeluk Bay or Pyramids by night or day to spot these fascinating creatures.

Juvenile Cuttlefish in Jemeluk Bay

Nr. 4 – Crabs and Shrimps

Continuing the trend of incredible diversity in this list, let’s take a quick look at some of the crustaceans you will be able to find in Bali. 

You can find them in between various corals, underneath rocks or even hitchhiking on a Nudibranch. Most notoriously found are harlequin shrimp, mantis shrimp, colmani shrimp, anemone shrimp and imperial shrimp (just to name a few favourites). 

As far as crabs are concerned they will most likely hide in sandy slopes or underneath a coral/rock-formation. The possibilities seem endless, as you can find almost anything from orang-utan crabs, reef crabs, porcelain crabs to hermit crabs and many more.

Be sure to visit Jemeluk Bay and Wall, Pyramids or Ghost Bay. A nightdive would be ideal, as crustaceans usually come out of hiding when it’s nice and dark and you’ll have an easier time spotting them.

Anemone Crab can be found on almost all sites

Nr. 5 – Ghost Pipefish and Seahorses

Closing off with probably the hardest to spot category: Seahorses and Pipefish.

They are not only rare but also quite difficult to spot. Seahorses in Amed are mostly very small and well camouflaged. Especially seahorses like the yellow (thorny) seahorse or pygmy seahorse won’t be easy to find, but who doesn’t like a challenge? While seahorses prefer shallow waters and to hide in between algae or different species of gorgonian coral (soft coral), pipefish on the other hand are usually found hanging out inside wrecks or close to mooring buoys. 

Try your luck at one of the world’s most famous shipwrecks, the USAT Liberty Shipwreck in Tulamben or the Japanese Shipwreck in Bunutan (Amed area).

Pygmy SeaHorse at the Japanese Shipwreck

5 Must Haves To Get Started With UW‑IMAGING

You love diving? You love to take pictures and videos? Then it is time to talk about becoming an underwater photographer!
A underwater photographers Wishlist is endless. Nevertheless we will introduce you to the “5 Must‑have Items to get started with UW‑Imaging”!

NR. 1 – The Camera

First of all, obviously ‑ you need a camera! There are dozens of awesome cameras out there, but just a handful of them is suited for underwater photography. As a beginner you want to start with something small and simple, like a digital camera! Sony’s RX100 series, like the Canon G7x series or the Olympus TG‑series are notoriously known amongst underwater photographers. Despite their small size they are really good entry‑level cameras. Especially in underwater photography most people have to travel to get to the dive spots and this small camera size can be a real game changer!

(Obviously you could also go for a simple ActionCamera… but if you want to take things seriously and actually recognize something again on your pictures you should stay away from using an ActionCamera for your underwater photography🤗)

Nr. 2 – Underwater Housing

Most cameras are NOT waterproof. Therefor you need to get a underwater housing which suits your camera. Many camera‑manufacturers started to build their own waterproof cases. Some of them are good others should be avoided.
There are 2 materials most commonly used for underwater housings:
Polycarbonate ‑ cheaper, lightweight and perfect for traveling.
Metal ‑ expensive, heavy but extremely durable and rugged.
The market leading companies for polycarbonate housings are Fantasea, Ikelite & SeaFrogs. For metal housings you should have a look at Nauticam, Isotta or Auquatica.

Nr. 3 – Wide Angle Lens

Now, as you got your camera & underwater housing you need to decide, which style of photography you want to pursue.
If you choose to capture the big stuff like coral reefs, sharks, schooling fish or people ‑ you should consider to get a underwater wide angle lens. These so called “wet lenses” are mounted on the lens port of your housing. They broaden the field of view by correcting the magnification that happens underwater with a flat port.

Nr. 4 – Macro Diopter

This is a must have for all those macro photographers out there: the wet macro (or super macro) diopter. Using this piece of equipment brings your right up close and personal to your favorite underwater creatures.
Macro Diopter work by shortening the focusing distance between the camera and the subject so that the subject fills the frame.

Nr. 5 – Underwater Strobe or Video Light

As you learned and observed in your Scuba Courses, the color of light is lost underwater. The deeper you venture, the more colors disappear.
To correct this loss of color you can use either a strobe or a video light.
(This tool is rather advanced and will take practice to be mastered. If you want to know how to correct your underwater colors without a strobe/light, check out our Article on http://www.lunatics‑world.com “Finding the right White Balance”


Feel inspired ? Why not checking out our Underwater Imaging Courses ?

Everything you need for underwater photography can be found here:

The 5 Best Beginner Dive Sites around Amed

Blessed with clear visibility and a large variety of marine creatures: The area surrounding the little fishing village of Amed makes every divers heart beat go faster.
The north eastern coastline of Bali is packed with endless coral reefs. Dozens of bays string together forming Balis largest dive area. From Padang-Bay through Gili Selang up to Amed and Tulamben you could literally jump into the water and dive. This abundance of sites can be overwhelming, therefor we will share the 5 best dive sites for beginners with you.


1. USAT Liberty Shipwreck (Tulamben)

Depth: 5-35 meters
Access: Shore
Level: Beginner

The areas most famous dive site claimed its reputation for a reason. USAT Liberty was an American war vessel during the second world war. The ship got torpedoed by the Japanese towards the end of WW2 close to the Komodo Islands. Upon it’s sinking the ship got pulled to the island of Bali where allied forces beached the vessel on Tulambens shore. The Liberty remained stranded there for many years while being scavenged by the local community. The eruption of the massive volcano “Mt. Agung” in 1963 forced the vessel underwater where it lies up to this day. Over the years the wreck became a heavenly paradise for marine life. The whole ship is covered in different types of hard and soft corals. This coral city invites an astonishing variety of marine creatures to settle. Most famously known is a family of Humphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) residing in the shipwreck at night, whilst grazing on the surrounding coral reefs during the day.

2. Pyramids (Amed, Tukatse)

Depth: 5-25 meters
Access: Shore/Boat
Level: Beginners to Advanced

This dive site in the heart of Amed is a pure gem. Along the large coral reef lie artificial coral constructions in the shape of pyramids. The reef itself ranges from a depth of 5 to 20 meters and is home to a variety of coral fish (Angle Fish, Butterfly Fish…). Alongside the reef on a depth of 18-25 meters about 20 large pyramids align them selves. Over the years the pyramids allowed plenty of corals to grow on them. With corals came a diversity of schooling fish (fusiliers, goat fish…). Additionally, every pyramid is home to a slightly different type of coral. Some of them are inhabited by large fan corals, others by table corals and some are home to a mix of different hard and soft coral species. This site can attract pelagic marine animals like hammerhead sharks, schools of barracudas and sometimes even whale sharks.

3. Amed Wall & Jemeluk Bay (Amed, Jemeluk)


Depth: 3-55 meters
Access: Shore
Level: Beginners, Advanced and Professional

The best place to learn diving in Amed. In the shallow areas of the bay, right off-shore, beginners can perfectly accomplish their Open Water Course. By venturing out towards the right side of the bay you will eventually reach the famously known “Amed Wall” – a beautiful wall dive site ranging from 10-45 meters. The wall is covered in all types of coral. You can find gigantic sponges, gorgeous fan corals and large table corals. On days of clear visibility you will be astonished by the beautiful landscape.

4. Drop Off (Tulamben)

Depth: 5-60 meters
Access: Shore
Level: Beginners, Advanced and Professional

Even though this dive site is dropping very deep, beginners can enjoy the feeling of flying along the shallower parts of the wall. The Tulamben Drop Off is quite different to the Wall in Amed. Different types of corals can be found. Also the marine life in this part of the coast varies from the one found in Amed. Just because the site is reaching very deep it doesn’t mean that the area from 5-18 meters has nothing to offer. A school of fusiliers is stationary living at the very beginning of the dive site. The Drop Off is also home to an abundance of macro marine life. Nudibranchs in all shapes and sizes can be encountered here. Don’t spread the word to loud but there have even been recent sightings of Whale Sharks right here!

5. Japanese Shipwreck (Amed)


Depth: 3-30 meters
Access: Shore
Level: Beginners

Among dive professionals in the area this site is known as a paradise for microscopic marine creatures. The wreck is considerably small and lies very shallow just in front the shore. Despite its small size it is home to dozens of nudibranchs, ghost pipefishes and coral fish. Beginners love this wreck as it is easily accessible and shallow. The reef surrounding the shipwreck is worth another whole dive itself. Pristine corals, thousands of different species of fish and the notoriously known “Pigmy Seahorse” can be found here. To find this very small seahorse you definitely need very good eyes or a dive buddy specialised in finding them!

The other 70 %

Did you know that our oceans cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface?

With so much of our world’s surface taken up by the ocean, it’s clear how vital the well being of these marine environments is to our fragile ecosystem. Scientific studies have also found out that between 70 to 80 percent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants, such as algae. 

The ocean does not only cover most of the earth’s surface: What’s underneath is even more fascinating. An incredible 94% of the Earth’s living documented species live underwater, not including the many species we have not even discovered yet. According to Ocean Service we have yet to explore an estimated 95 percent of ocean life. That would mean, everything we know so far only covers about 5 percent of what’s actually out there. Given the enormous size of the ocean, it is impossible to know the exact number of species that live there. 

But that hasn’t stopped the global scientific community to investigate further by learning and documenting as much as possible about one of the greatest mysteries on this planet and most importantly sharing their latest discoveries with us. 

Karimunjawa: The island of Karimunjawa founds itself surrounded by dozens of tiny islands.

Sequential Hermaphroditism

Did you know that some aquatic species can change from male to female and vice versa?

Nudibranchs are hermaphroditic, too. On the picture above you can see two “nembrotha lineolatas” exchanging eggs and semen. During the mating process most nudibranch connect to each other sideways.

This phenomenon is called sequential hermaphroditism and describes a type of hermaphroditism that occurs in many fish, snails, slugs (yes, nudibranchs are hermaphroditic as well), and even some plants. We speak of sequential hermaphroditism when the individual changes its sex at some point in its life. Species that can undergo these changes from one sex to another do so as a normal event within their reproductive cycle that is usually cued by either social structure or the achievement of a certain age or size. Oftentimes this happens to ensure successful reproduction.

Clownfish are one of the most famous sequential hermaphrodites. Clownfish are all born male, but can change their sex to female if the necessity occurs. They for example change their sex from male to female when there is no other female to mate with or when they attain a certain size. (By the way, this would’ve changed the entire plot of Nemo.)

This phenomenon goes the other way as well.

Unlike clownfish that start life as males and transform into females, there are other species, such as the California sheephead, that start as female and transform into male.

Diving into Balinese Culture

Squeezed in between five locals on three tiny seats I am looking out of the bus windows, where Javas breathtaking landscape is passing by in front of my eyes. Volcanos shape the appearance of the one thousand kilometer long island and many of them are still active. Black smoke breaks the path out of the deep craters and remind me about my adventures of the past days.

The wheels of the airplane touched the ground with a loud zing. Two weeks ago i started my travels to Indonesia targeting mainly Balis underwater world. Chris, my 34 year old friend and dive buddy from Patagonia welcomed me with his huge smile on Denpasar’s airport. Together we set of to the sleepy village of Tulamben in the north east of Bali, where we planned to discover new underwater treasures. 


Read about my underwater experience of Tulamben in my Blog “Diving Tulamben, Bali”.

Chris left Tulamben after days of intense diving to make his way back to Thailand, I stayed and moved into the home of a balinese family.

On Bali, hospitality is capitalized.

Ketut, a local from Bali with a heart of gold would have wanted to adopt me as his son right away. Every morning I woke up to the delicious smell of a special balinese coffee called Luwak. His wife loved to cook the finest mouth-watering Indonesian dishes for me and his brother in law introduced me to Bali’s religion and the world of the many Gods.

An island with some hills

With over 3000 Meters of height juts the active volcano Agung over the north east of Bali. The mountain was already seen as a holy place for thousands of years. “Gunung Agung” as the locals call it or “giant mountain” stimulated the phantasy of the islands native inhabitants. They tried to explain the eruptions of the volcano by the power of the animistic gods living in it.
For a long time there were no modern religions on the island of Bali. Today, the island is dominated by Hinuds, Buddhists, Muslims and some few Christians. A remarkable feature of Balis Hinduism is the merge of Hinduism with the animistic believes of a distant past.

Wayan, Ketut’s brother in law is a an active Hindu, traveling to regularly to ceremonies in Tempels all over Bali. I had the great honor to join him and his family on one of his journeys. Dressed in a white sarong, a thin cloth which is wrapped around the waist and a kind of turban on my head we made our way to a new build Tempel at the foot of the infamous volcano Agung. Within a festive ceremony I got washed with holy water and got rice attached to my forehead, a symbol for wisdom.
The intimidating scenery of the Tempel, with an active volcano in the background had a strong impact on me and made me experience this moment with an unknown passion. I will never forget the feeling I had after the ceremony, because even if I am not belonging to any kind of religion I could strongly feel the spirituality which is so important to Balis people.

To be continued in “A celebration of Fire”