Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving, Sidem, Indonesia
In 2023 I travelled to Tulamben for the third time and spent just over two weeks diving the north-eastern coast of Bali. I used Liberty Dive Resort, click here to read about the town and dive operations. This was the last dive site I visited during the trip and one I had not visited on previous trips. There are literally hundreds of potential dive sites located within a few kilometres of Tulamben but only a dozen or so are able to be visited.
Sidem is located about 6.1 kilometres to the south-east of Tulamben (by road) and is one of the most distant local dive sites. An approximate GPS mark for the dive spot is S8Â° 18.5460" E115Â° 36.9130" (using WGS84 as the datum).
|A satellite photo from Google Earth that shows the location of the dive site which is just north of the headland
Entry is the gap between the boats
After heading south out of town, you travel along the main road and then down a side road towards the ocean. The dive site is just north of a headland and what appears to be a very palatial house. There is a large shade shelter, some tables/seats, a toilet, shower and camera wash tank.
|The dive gear up spot
|The beach at Sidem
As with most beaches near Tulamben, there are fishing boats hauled up all along the beach. The beach itself is black sand from the nearby Mount Agung volcano (which is active, last eruptions where in 2017-18). The is an easy site to enter and exit the water as the beach is more sand than rocks.
Once underwater, there are rocks which then turns to black sand again a little deeper. It takes about two minutes swimming to get to the actual start of the slope. You follow a large mooring rope out to the 6 to 7 metre area where there is a large concrete mooring. The slope starts here.
|Two Moorish idols and one of the large moorings in the shallows
|A very colourful lionfish
Unlike many of the Tulamben dive sites, this one has no ridges. There is just a slope that descends fairly consistently across its width. The normal dive is straight out and then to the left and back again. Like all the sites around here, the depth just keeps on going down. I went to about 26 metres, but took 40 minutes to get there.
If you go to the right once you hit the mooring, the bottom is similar but after a while you will come to a rocky reef which runs north-east from the headland. This is not actually dived (like most of the reefs) but is a nice background to the dive. Again, you head down deeper and then work your way back up.
|An interesting leatherjacket
|This is a small pygmy pipehorse, not as colourful as our Sydney pygmy pipehorse
Head is at bottom one quarter from left
On this dive we saw plenty of stuff, it was the most varied I think of my 29 dives in 2023. Highlights were a black anglerfish, a pipefish, a pygmy pipehorse, a robust ghost pipefish, shrimp, pompom crabs and a few species of nudibranchs. There were probably not as many nudibranchs as most dive sites, but the other things made up for the lack of them.
|One of the nudibranchs I saw
|A shrimp on a featherstar
In the shallows there was also a lot to see. As well as the Moorish idols which are at every site, there was a striped snake eel swimming around, hunting for food. There were also a few lionfish and lots of butterflyfish, especially around the mooring.
|A glass shrimp
|A very colourful bubble shell called batwing slug, Siphopteron citrinum
An amazing thing I witnessed and videoed, was a decorator crab in the middle of a large anemone. This was interesting enough, but what happened next was simply stunning. The clownfish were obviously upset about this, they were all swimming around and harassing the crab. Then, the largest clownfish came in and grabbed the decorator crab and threw it out of the anemone.
Of course I missed videoing this, however, the crab was determined to get back in the anemone. Soon it was in the middle again. This time I had my GoPro running. Again, the largest clownfish came in and grabbed it and threw it out. The crab ended up a good 200 mm from the edge of the anemone. Brilliant to see and video!
|This decorator crab was in the middle of the anemone
|The decorator crab with the clownfish that eventually threw it out of the anemone
You can spend a lot of time doing your safety stop in the shallows and not be bored. I spent 10 to 15 minutes in this area on my two dives.
|A pompom crab
|A robust ghost pipefish
A great dive site. I think I should have went there for a couple more dives on my trip. Next time I will.
|A snake eel
|One of two tiny starfish I saw on this dive, the smallest ones I have ever seen, only 3-4 mm across
|Closeup of some razorfish
|The razorfish normally swim like they are on the right of the photo,
but when they want to move quickly, they change their orientation
to swim like normal fish as on the left
|A pipefish we saw