Amed Dive Center is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth – BALI. The tropical waters around BALI provide a perfect environment for a healthy marine life. Unfortunately, unsustainable development, ignorance and carelessness put this tropical paradise in danger.
Around 1980 the area around Amed had an astonishing underwater panorama combined with traditional salt fields on the beach. In the late 80’s the fishing net was introduced as an “innovative” and more efficient fishing method that should have an immense impact for the Amed area until these days.
Only problem was that the beautiful corals bothered the fishermen because their nets got stuck in the corals and were damaged. As the fishermen were quite enthusiastic about this new, more efficient fishing method and were also in need of building materials for their housings they discovered that the corals served as a perfect substitute for cement that hadn’t arrived in Amed at that time. Therefore they started to dismantle the reef in a process that continued for several years. As a result all corals in front of Amed village were destroyed, used for buildings on land and had consequently vanished from the sea.
Quite a few beautiful coral reefs can still be found along the coastline around Amed (for example in the Jemeluk area). Seeing this you can only imagine, how it may have looked here in Amed some 40 years ago before people started this destructive process for the reefs. An intact coral reef would be quite helpful for the people around Amed since marine life starts in coral reefs and is therefore a fundamental source for sea-food. Moreover healthy coral reefs also protect the beach from big waves and prevent the process of erosion. In the late 80’s the beach in front of Hotel Uyah Amed was approximately 100 meters wider than it is today, before the sea started to take possession of it step by step, year by year. The sea took back land, formerly used as salt fields by the salt farmers.
But can we really be angry with the people from Amed earning their hard living as fishermen or as salt farmers until today?! It is quite obvious that they had no idea of what was destroyed by using the corals for building their houses nor did they have a clue of the importance of corals for the ocean and its marine life. But things have changed and by now especially the fishermen became aware and start to understand the essential function of a coral reef – both for the ocean and for their living.
It must be noted that not just the disappearance of the coral reef in Amed contributed to this land loss but also the continuous rise of the sea level is a decisive factor – Global warming is not a new phenomena and its effects are visible in Amed.
In 2003 we were sitting together with our staff from Amed Dive Center, Hotel Uyah Amed and Cafe Garam discussing these problems. We were concerned especially because Hotel Uyah Amed and Cafe Garam are designed ECO friendly and strive for environmental protection and maintenance of the traditional sea salt production. As almost all staff in Hotel Uyah Amed, Cafe Garam and Amed Dive Center descends from Amed village and most of their families still earn their livings as fishermen or salt farmers, they were aware of the effects of erosion. What to do about it and how? They came up with the idea to rebuild the formerly existing reef with an artificial reef, contribute with that to the marine life and try to stop the process of erosion.
Starting the artificial reef project called Amed Ghost Bay in front of Hotel Uyah Amed in 2003; Amed Dive Center was confronted with a wide range of problems.
Despite several attempts to explain the objective of Amed Dive Center the local fishermen did not understand why Amed Dive Center wanted to drop concrete- and other objects in the middle of their fishing area, which they had “cleaned” from annoying corals some 20 years ago. Only after about one year, several damaged fishing nets, angry fishermen and overturned reef units we found a solution to respect the intentions of each other. An area around 100 square meters was chosen and marked by a buoy. Even more important, the fishermen started to understand the context of coral reef and marine life. They could see that even this small artificial reef is full of tiny marine life and therefore attracts bigger fish which they can catch. Another side effect of Amed Ghost Bay is that more and more divers become aware of the excellent macro diving just in front of Hotel Uyah Amed. From time to time the fishermen therefore earn some extra money by guiding tourists for a sunset sailing trip or bringing them to a nearby diving spot by their traditional outrigger boats, locally called Jukung.
Now, after the people had found a compromise everything seemed to be fine, but Mother Nature showed muscle. During January/February big waves hit the coastline of Amed and many of the objects, “planted” for the reef in the first attempt were overturned by the powerful impact of the waves and collapsed. The first little corals were buried under the sand. Kind of frustrated but still motivated we looked for better solutions. The reef building objects are therefore now provided with wider bases to be more stable to withstand the forces. In addition they are also placed in more suitable places, not too deep, because the sunlight is a decisive factor for the growing process of the corals, but also not too shallow because then it was likely that the waves overturn them again.
The reef building project is on its way for several years now and Amed Dive Center monitors the reef building process and development. Similarly more objects are planted as we continuously try to improve the artificial reef Amed Ghost Bay. All the efforts and struggle have been rewarded. Rare species like the clown frog fish, different kinds of ghost pipe fish, mimic octopuses, huge stone fishes, amazing crabs, tiny juvenile lion fishes, just to mention a few, can be found at Amed Ghost Bay. Come and have a look at what we have achieved as yet.