Temple Garden, an underwater temple created by Gardeners of Pemuteran Reef. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Temple Garden, an underwater temple created by Gardeners of Pemuteran Reef. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

Pemuteran: baby turtles, underwater temple and electric coral

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


I am since Tuesday in Pemuteran, a small village in West Bali. I love it !


There is not much here, except for the fishermen's village, a handful of luxury hotels, a few budget family guesthouses, and diving centers.

The whole thing is wedged between a noisy road and a gorgeous black sand cove.

A peaceful and authentic fishing village

One has a beautiful panoramic view of the bay by climbing to the small temple located at the top of a hill, just west of the hotel area. A nice and easy walk, to be done before dusk, when the sunlight becomes soft, and gives a golden glow to the mountains that dominate the bay.

Evening light on the bay of Pemuteran. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Evening light on the bay of Pemuteran. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

After just go down the steps leading to the temple, and continue by the hard way, to the sea, to return by the beach.

The quiet, authentic atmosphere of Pemuteran stands in stark contrast to the tourist frenzy of so many of Bali's busier spots. And the people here are super friendly.

In the evening, at low tide, the villagers collect shells, their feet in the water, between the piles of dead coral on the shore. The children proudly show me their catch of the day, with big radiant smiles.

At low tide, the people of Pemeturan collect shells on the beach. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
At low tide, the people of Pemeturan collect shells on the beach. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Pemuteran's children proudly show me the shells they picked up on the beach. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The children of Pemuteran proudly show me the shells they collected on the beach (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

All mobilized to protect the reef

In Pemuteran, all activities revolve around the protection of the coral reef. Since the 1990s, several ecological initiatives have been successfully launched to raise awareness among villagers and tourists about the fragility of the marine ecosystem.

As in many other places, the coral here has suffered from the warming of the water caused by El Niño and the practices (no longer used in the area) of fishing with cyanide and dynamite.

The diving center Reef Seenled by Chris Brown, an Australian settled here for 17 years, started in 1992 on Turtle Hatchery Project (or Proyek Penyu(in Indonesian): a turtle nursery. It is located right next to the bungalows where the divers stay.

Chris Brown is Australian and has been living in Pemuteran since 1991, where he runs the Reef Seen Dive Center. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Chris Brown is Australian and has been living in Pemuteran since 1991, where he runs the Reef Seen Dive Center. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
In the reef nursery nursery Reef Seen, in Pemuteran, dozens of babies are waiting to discover the sea ... (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
In the reef nursery nursery Reef Seen, in Pemuteran, dozens of babies are waiting to discover the sea ... (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
In Reef Seen Basins, there are also two adult turtles. The center tried several times to put them back in their natural environment, but each time they came back! (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
In Reef Seen Basins, there are also two adult turtles. The center tried several times to put them back in their natural environment, but each time they came back! (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Buried under the warm sand, the turtle eggs are waiting to hatch. (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Buried under the warm sand, turtle eggs wait to hatch (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

The turtle eggs are bought from the fishermen who find them, then they are buried in the warmth of the sand, in the famous "nursery", for 45 to 60 days, until they hatch.

The baby turtles then stay in the adjoining basins for 2 to 3 months.

We don't release them right away. The idea is to wait until the babies are big enough and strong enough, before giving them back their freedom. The young turtles thus put back in water will probably have better chances of survival.

Two adult turtles, named Boomer and Billy, also live there, in Reef Seen tanks. The center has tried several times to return them to their natural environment, but they have never really regained their freedom. Each time, they came back!

Unusual : a temple under water

Right next to Reef Seen, there are also Reef Gardeners, Reef Gardeners of Pemuteran A team of young Balinese people, who have been trained to dive and made aware of the protection of the underwater environment.

They harvest the crowns of thorn or Acanthaster, these thorny sea stars corpulent coral. They maintain the reef, which they show to visitors. They have created several underwater sites, close to the beach, to encourage the regrowth of coral, by immersing shipwrecks on the bottom.

Under the surface, they also built... a temple! An amazing site, with statues of turtles and Buddhas in Khmer style, on which I dived yesterday. Strange atmosphere, a bit ghostly.

Temple Garden, an underwater temple created by Gardeners of Pemuteran Reef. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Temple Garden, an underwater temple created by Gardeners of Pemuteran Reef. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The coral creates strange hairstyles with submerged statues. (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Coral creates strange hairstyles on submerged statues. (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Underwater, the serene faces of the statues seem to meditate. (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Under the water, the serene faces of the statues seem to meditate. (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

It is really a strange thing to evolve in this way, between 30 and 15 meters deep, in the middle of these statues covered (entirely, for the oldest) with corals and gorgonians. So many solid supports for the coral, which seems to be well fixed there.

Electric corals in front of the beach

Finally, Reef Gardeners also participated in the artificial reef project BiorockThis is an electrically stimulated pool. This one is located a few meters from the shore, in front of the hotel Pondok Sari. From the beach, you can see the cables sinking into the water.

Just follow them in palm-mask-snorkel (Snorkel) to observe the metallic structures that support the corals. Some are boat-shaped, others are flower-shaped or pyramid-shaped. The oldest ones date from 2000-2001 and are nicely decorated with small coral massifs.

The underwater electrical cables of the Bio Rock project in Pemuteran. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The submarine power cables of the Biorock project in Pemuteran. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
One of the 48 underwater metal structures of the Bio Rock project in Pemuteran. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
One of the 48 Biorock underwater metal structures in Pemuteran (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The electric current of the Biorock structures allows the coral to settle. (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The electric current flowing through the Biorock structures allows the coral to settle. (Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

The method is simple: coral branches, which have broken or detached from the natural reef, are attached to an immersed metal support through which an electric current flows. The result is a phenomenon ofelectrolysiswhich allows the coral's limestone to set more quickly. Four to five times faster, according to the young man who informed me at the small Biorock office next to the Pondok Sari hotel.

Some people contest the process: the coral would be fixed faster, but less solidly... And it is true that I saw quite a few coral tables overturned or lying on the sand, during my little snorkeling trip (fins-mask-tuba). But the Reef Gardeners are there to restore all that.

Anyway, the fairy-like spectacle of these coral groves - a spectacle accessible to all, a few meters from the shore - is definitely worth the detour! A great initiative, really.

At the Biorock office in Pemuteran, a model of coral electric structures, to explain the project to tourists, next to the inevitable turtle ashtray ... (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
At Biorock's office in Pemuteran, a model of the coral electrical structures, to explain the project to tourists, next to the inevitable turtle ashtray... (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The small office of the Biorock project, on the beach of Pemuteran. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The small office of the Biorock project, on the beach of Pemuteran. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2008.)

In short, I am under the spell of this beach, where everyone, from visitors to locals, is concerned about preserving the beauty of the underwater world!

And for those who practice diving, the sites of Pemuteran as well as those of Menjangan Island, not far away, are well worth a stay of a few days.

Added February 16, 2009. To read further, on the Biorock project of Pemuteran, my article in the Sunday West-France February 15, 2009 :

Biorock, the electric corals of Bali. Article published Sunday West-France, February 2, 2009.

Bali's electric corals

Electricity to save the coral? Called Biorock, this technique makes it possible to revitalize the fragile ecosystems of tropical seas.

On the northwest coast of Bali, in the Indonesian archipelago, Pemuteran is a quiet village, nestled between a black sandy cove and barren mountains.

On the beach, you can see cables running down to the sea. You just have to follow them, with a mask and snorkel, to discover, at a shallow depth, a fabulous treasure: hundreds of coral corollas and branches, fixed to tunnel, flower, pyramid or cone shaped frames... This is the Biorock project, which consists in stimulating coral growth with electricity.

The process is based on a simple and cheap technique: electrolysis. A low voltage current is circulated in the immersed metal structures. By electrochemical reaction, a thin layer of limestone is gradually deposited. Now limestone is precisely what serves as the "skeleton" of the coral. To create an artificial reef, pieces of coral, which have been broken or torn off the natural reef by the currents, are attached to these metal arches. Thanks to the electricity that accumulates the limestone, the branches will gradually fix themselves and continue to "grow".

Three to five times faster

There are about forty Biorock arches in Pemuteran, arranged between 3 and 7 meters deep, over 300 meters long. The oldest ones date back to 2000. They were built with the villagers, who are aware of the protection of the underwater environment. The initiative was financed by local diving centers and hoteliers.

A decade ago, the reef was dying, a victim of warming waters and fishing with cyanide or dynamite. Today, thanks to the Biorock project and other environmental initiatives, Pemuteran has become a model of ecotourism.

Conceived in the early 70's by the German Wolf Hilbertz, developed by the Jamaican Thomas Goreau at the end of the 80's, the Biorock process reproduces the natural calcification present in all oceans. But 3 to 5 times faster! The coral stimulated by electricity develops at full speed. It would also be more resistant to environmental aggressions.

Launched in 1988, the Biorock projects have since spread throughout the world's seas, in some twenty countries: Jamaica, the Gulf of Mexico, the Seychelles, the Maldives, Panama... The Indonesian installation in Pemuteran, Bali, is the largest.

Corinne BOURBEILLON.

→ Link on Ouest-France.fr: Bali's electric corals 

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

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  1. These steel structures are well suited to the reintroduction of coral, and you can see nurseries all over the world now. It's a very good initiative, which works well, and seems to me a little less "crude" than wrecks sunk on sites to create a new ecosystem.

  2. Hello Corinne
    Always those smiles.
    It's beautifully authentic. Don't forget to bring it back to our society.
    🙄

  3. @ Marie Ange:
    I'm not a specialist in the field, but the Bio Rock initiative seemed really interesting. In any case, on certain structures, the results are quite spectacular.
    🙂

    @ Yves:
    Yes, the smiles here really warm the heart. I wanted to post some more tonight, as a conclusion to my stay in Pemuteran, but the connection at the internet cafe where I'm staying in Amed is decidedly too slow... I'm going to explore the area to find another one. I'll try to send a new illustrious article tomorrow.
    Finally, every time I return to France from my trips to Asia, I try to preserve the memory of those radiant smiles. And to keep smiling, too, for as long as possible...
    🙄

  4. Yo P'tite Bulle
    Wow, reading you and seeing your photos, it's not even worth asking if you're having a good time. As usual, you've given us an extraordinary travel diary with its share of discoveries, magnificent landscapes and smiles from other latitudes. It's an endless read that makes you forget all about the dullness of Rennes. All you need is a camera for a report on National Geo!!!! As for me, I'm getting ready for my trip to LA. It's a nice program. And thanks to the net, we can keep in touch. Biz. Sam

  5. Yo Sam!

    Yes, I'm having fun...
    🙄

    For moving images, I do have a few videos in stock, which I could upload via my Dailymotion, but given the slowness of connections here, I'll settle for photos...
    😉

    I'm delighted that my little posts are getting you out of the dullness of Rennes. I arrived yesterday in Amed, pure happiness here too. It's beautiful!!!

    A succession of black sand and pebble coves, which you discover as you wind your way along the small coastal road. A peaceful, truck-free road to explore on a scooter, nose to the wind. All dominated by the huge silhouette of the Agung volcano. And here too, the people are great... I started today with a fantastic dive on the wreck of the Liberty in Tulamben. I have a feeling I'll be stuck there for a while yet...
    8)

    I wish you an excellent trip to LA. You'll tell me ... Full of kisses!

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