Dynamite fishing has been a problem in the Gili Islands and the evidence underwater is overwhelming. Huge sections of the reef turned to vast graveyards of shattered corals, virtually absent of life. Pocketed amongst these battle zones are rare oasis of corals that were missed by the bombing. Life around the corals is vibrant and beautiful. Where the reef has not been blasted away, it is spectacular. Branching hard corals offer hiding places to florescent fish and endless soft corals lie down in the sweeping current. The fish life screams indo pacific, and I am at awe at how much more colorful the fish appear here than in the Caribbean and Pacific. Some sites are epic patchworks layering coral platforms unlike any reef I have seen before. Its an underwater wonderland.
A few highlights underwater were seeing my first wild pair of clown fish, adorably hiding in their anemone. A seahorse, some reef sharks, getting to snorkel off the boat with a manta ray and six or so pygmy sea horses barely half an inch tall perfectly camouflaged with the sea fan they clung to. See if you can spot them!
Right off the beach near where we are staying is a shallow wonderland of a reef. It’s one of my favorite reefs on the islands and stretches between 3ft out to over 30 feet of water. Dave and I spent many happy afternoons exploring the reef with our snorkels!