It gave way to February and breathtaking dives in Raja Ampat.
March is now following, which announces the Saka calendar first day of the year ( Nyepi). March was also the Romain first month of their calendar to honor their god of war. We will celebrate Niepy 1939 on the 28th March. This special ceremony is requiring a long preparation, including extraordinary mythological Ogo Ogo manufacture. But the festivities will really begin with Melasti ceremony, subject of the Balinese Life column.
Few underwater species are often ignored. I have chosen to put one of them out of the shade. In the Bio column, I am presenting the Sea Cucumber. You will see a surprising animal.
Being really honest, did ever consider the Sea Cucumber as a beautiful underwater creature?
How could I describe the Sea Cucumber without entering into a dodgy picture, without making some of us blush and making the rest of us laugh? Despite the fact that it does not look like its cousin the Sea Star or the Sea Urchin, the Sea Cucumber is part of the Echinoderm family.
Most of the time it is shaped like a fat sausage. Its size varies between 10 to 30 cm depending of the family. Saying that, the Spotted Worm Sea Cucumber (Sinapta Macula) can actually reach the size of 3 meters long. I often encounter it in Gilimanuk during our Bali Dive Safari but also in Komodo, Raja Ampat, Maluku…
Sea Cucumber feeds on plankton. His digestion can last up to 36 hours… what a nap! It usually feeds at night not be spotted by its predator. However, we can see it having its lunch during the day. Its tentacles are bringing back the plankton to the mouth.
Although certain species are sessile, Sea Cucumber is mainly benthic. To escape quickly from a potential predator, Sea Cucumber can swell twice its size of water. But in case of attack, it will vomit its intestines releasing a venomous toxin. What an Alien!
It has an external, sexual reproduction but do not try to check female or male Sea Cucumber while diving, you won’t see anything. It is only by using a microscope that you will notice the male female dimorphism. Gametes are released into the water from the Sea Cucumber putting himself in a position, which I will be ashamed to describe… After fertilisation, the Sea Cucumber goes on several planktonic stages.
At first, I mentioned a surprising animal… I have to admit that so far, except from shameless analogies, nothing surprising came up! Here we go and let’s enter in a Chinese kitchen… Since the XIV century Chinese people are known for eating
Sea Cucumber. Nowadays, it is 40’000 tonnes, which are sold every year. As usual, Chinese people believe that Sea Cucumber have loads of health benefits. Price can go up to 1’000 USD / Kg, which makes this species part of the black market…
Sea cucumber is actually not just a « nice healthy Chinese meal »…since about 15 years western scientists are doing research on them. The studies target several types of cancer, such as lungs, breast, prostate, colon… It appears that we could find in the Sea Cucumber a compound named Frodosidea, which could kill cancer cells and inhibit their development. Frodosidea would also help arthritis and join pain treatment…
I have a confession to make… I actually find very beautiful the Sea Apple encounter in Komodo. Its red, yellow and purple colors and its round shape remind me of a fluffy cushion… nice image to end this column, isn’t it?
Nyepi is probably the most known and remarkable Balinese ceremony because of the huge and impressive Ogo Ogo parade. Nyepi isn’t actually just that. Nyepi is a day of contemplation and meditation.
The whole ceremony will start by a purification day, heading 3 days before Nyepi. This is Melasti day. On March 25th, streets, streams, rivers an beaches will welcome a festive splendor. Every Balinese will prepare the Day of Silence by a big day of purification.
Small statues, called Pratimas, representing village gods and welcoming their spirits, are carried in procession up to the sea or the rivers to be purified. The men of villages, dressed up with traditional outfit, will carry a bamboo platform, on which the statues will be placed in a small house and lead them to a water source.
The purifying virtues of sea water is coming from mythological story: the Ocean of Milk. Once upon a time in Balinese belief, Gods and devils joined their power to extract from the sea the Elixir of immortality.
Mount Mandarachala was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of snake, became the churning rope. The demons demanded to hold the head of the snake, while the gods, taking advice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail. The gods and demons pulled back and forth on the snake’s body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean, extracting from it the elixir of Immortality. This precious liquid was hold in the bottle Kamandalu, stolen by the demons.
However, not all the magical power were hold in the Kamandalu. Some remains in the sea, still used by Balinese for purification.
Research on dragon of Komodo saliva. American searcher hope to create an antibiotic capable of killing “super-bacteria”. Ref The Point Science.
Meet the Komodo dragon, one of the most oldest species on earth, during the cruise from July 30th till August 11th – 4 available places.
All the team is happy to welcome Steven Weinberg, famous dutch underwater biologist. He will share his endless knowledge on 1-13 October Safari Bali. Join us during this exclusive adventure.
Don’t miss the last places available on Special Critters Safari from 11 till 23 June.
Last but not least, come along on unforgettable dive on the Special Nusa Penida Dive Safari: booking are starting quickly 3-15 September.
See you soon…