Sunrise at Nusa Dua Beach, Bali

My first introduction to the intertidal wildlife was some sort of an accident. I was looking for the sunrise in Nusa Dua Beach, Bali. Instead of sunrise, I found many sea stars and other echinoderms as well as pretty sea slugs. They’re so amazing and I totally forgot about the sunrise. Then for 4 days I strolled around the beach and found so many magnificent marine critters.
I couldn’t swim, so never before in my life that I had dreams of seeing all these beauties that I’ve only seen on the Discovery Channel or the National Geographic. So please note that none of the pictures herein are diving or snorkeling photos.

Nusa Dua Beach is a very rich ecosystem, so I will have separate posts based on their types. In the meantime, here are some of the pictures I took from the trip:

Sea Star
It was still dark and this is one of the sea star I found on the beach, a Pentaceraster mammilatus. Well, I googled the Latin name and the search for Pentaceraster mammilatus matched the description of this green sea star with tiny orange spikes.

Sea urchin
This is a cake urchin (Tripneustes gratilla). There were so many of them tucked between the sea grass. That made them looked like tomatoes fell from a basket and scattered around the beach.

Serpent Star
This is an Ophiarachna incrassata, a green brittle star which also known as the serpent star. The sea grass was swarmed by these brittle stars. They were hiding between the sea grass, waving their hands to their preys hoping some misguided little fishes will think it’s a worm or something.

Puffer fish
I found this white spotted puffer fish (Arothron hispidus) stranded in a small tide pool. It desperately tried to hide between the sea grass. Its green color kinda helped, but I spotted this little guy and took a nice picture of it.

Anemone Hermit Crab
Another first time was my first to see an anemone hermit crab (Dardanus pedunculatus) in the wild! I spotted this anemone hermit crab sunbathing on a sandy area.

I was so excited and thrilled thinking that this anemone hermit crab is a rare and hard to find species, but about ten minutes later I stumble upon the anemone hermit crab headquarter. It’s a tide pool full of the Pleurobranchia forskalii sea slugs and of course a cast of anemone hermit crabs sunbathing with arrogant pose. I say arrogant, because they have those ferocious look of yellow eyes sticking out their shells. :p

Banded Sole Fish
So… what is this colorful flat critter? My first guess was some type of flatworm. I spent a long time googling its name from the marine flatworms’ database online. Then… on an accidental unrelated search, I found out that this little guy is actually a fish! Yes, a sole fish, which is commonly known as the banded sole fish a.k.a Soleichthys heterorhinos.
Ouch… sorry, my bad… Surely you’re a fish! Look at those protruding eyes of yours.

Baby Lion Fish
Another amazing discovery of my Nusa Dua trip was this Baby Lion Fish (Pterois sp.). I’ve never seen a lion fish in the wild so when I found out what this little guy was, I was thrilled!
Well, to be honest, I didn’t spot it until I developed the photo. I was actually taking picture of the red sea star next to it and not realizing its presence. This baby was spotted when I zoomed the photo. Oops…

Pleurobranchia forskalii

When I saw this little red guy swimming around gracefully, my first thought was, “Holy cow! A Nudibranch!”. Again, I was so thrilled since it’s my first time seeing a “nudibranch” in the wild. Later I learned that this little guy is a species of sea slug with the Latin name of Pleurobranchia forskalii.
There were so many of them scattered around; I think it’s like their season. It was October 2011. They came with the color of bright red, bright orange, creamy to brown. They have this distinctive pattern of white circle on their top. So pretty…

Harlequin Snake Eel
At 8.30 am, it was started to rain in Nusa Dua. I rushed to the shore for cover when I dead stop upon looking at this long black & white striped thing in front of me. It swam really close to the shore line. I thought I was going to die, thinking that it was the infamous venomous banded sea snake (Laticauda colubrine).

Then, I saw its pectoral fin and smooth skin which gave away its cover. After that, I was convinced that it was indeed the harmless Harlequin Snake Eel or Banded Snake Eel (Myrichthys colubrinus). Its smart disguise allows it to hunt safely over sand flats and sea grass beds near coral reefs for small fish and crustaceans.
What a great last encounter before I returned safely to my hotel that morning.

So those are the highlights of my Nusa Dua trip on October 2011. More posts with specific theme from this trip will be posted soon.


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