(or Colin's "near death" experience)
28.02.2012 - 28.02.2012 29 °C
Snorkeling in Gili Trawangan was a pretty amazing experience and better in a lot of ways than most of the coral scuba diving we've done in SE Asia. There is a very strong current, so we walked to the most northern point of the eastern shore, entered the water and swam out about 30 meters, and let the current carry us back to the main beach. We opted to rent the fins along with the mask (25,000 IDR for the set), so that we could swim against the current if necessary; this proved to be very helpful in conserving energy when we needed to swim back against the current to see something we'd missed or view something more closely.
As we floated along we saw numerous species of fish of all sizes and colors. (Unfortunately, we are not familiar with fish varieties and only recognized swordfish, but suffice it to say we saw a lot.) Perhaps the most striking were medium-sized, multi-fluorescent colored fish, of which Leah saw two.
We saw numerous schools of fish of various sizes. At one point just after Leah entered the water, a massive school of small fish swam directly at her and for about ten seconds, she was completely encircled in fish. It was like something out of a nature documentary and a really amazing experience.
We also saw seven sea turtles. Gili has a small sea turtle conservation center, which probably explains why there are so many living close to the shore. As we we're observing one particularly large turtle, he decided to surface for a bit of sun. He swam up right next to us and stuck his head out of the water (we did the same). For about a minute, Colin, Leah, and turtle floated together. It was definitely one of the more exciting sea experiences we've had. Colin reached out and touched the turtle's shell, which sent him shooting back down to the sea bottom, but was definitely worth it for Colin to feel this massive, majestical creature.
After his encounter with the sea turtle, Colin must have been feeling brave, because later on he decided to dive down toward a particularly large fish (perhaps 2 or more feet in length) to get a closer look. This fish was not interested in bonding with Colin, however, and as he approached, she did a full 180 in his direction and shot up toward Colin, teeth glaring. Needless to say, Colin and Leah, who was also nearby, swam away as fast as possible. Later in the day, when we reentered the water for a third time, following the same route along the eastern shore, we saw this same fish again. This time there were other snorkelers nearby and we watched as a young boy dove toward the fish (there wasn't enough time to warn him) and again, the fish responded with intimidation. This is when we saw that there was an identical fish significantly smaller in size, her baby, following her every move closely and carefully. It was remarkable to see how protective she was being of her little one.
Overall, snorkeling at Gili T is safe and well worth the time and money. In addition to fish and turtles, we saw numerous corals, which were just as beautiful.