I used to be utterly convinced that entering the water around 07.30 was the best time of day on the Liberty, but the truth is that you really should be leaving the wreck at that time to enjoy a hot breakfast and reflect on what you have just seen.
06.00 is the witching hour if you want to start the day with a “Bumphead moment”, because around the stern – the usual entry point for the wreck – in about 15m of water you will encounter a large school of Bumphead parrotfish performing their morning ablutions before heading out for the day!
Early risers, the Bumpheads spend the night down around the bow in about 25m of water where they can rest in the shelter of the hull. They congregate around the stern as the sun’s rays start to penetrate and light up the wreck.
I you are lucky you will get 15 to 20 minutes with them and with a bit of careful maneuvering, whilst keeping a wary eye on those formidable teeth… it is possible to edge up really close to the Bumpheads, which makes for some memorable photography.
Liberty Wreck Bumphead Parrot Fish Image Gallery
Early morning is also the best time for a random encounter with “George”, the giant barracuda that has made the Liberty his home. George appears to have lost much of his natural apprehension to scuba divers and being a curious fish, will often come and eyeball you – offering a special Kodak moment if you are prepared, or one of immediate and imminent danger if you have never heard or seen him before!
At nearly six feet long, and equipped with some fierce looking dental capability, George is a serious fish who graces you with his presence and moves on when his curiosity is satisfied.
George – the resident giant barracuda on the Liberty Wreck at Tulamben in Bali
If George is nowhere to be see you can go for quantity, rather than individual quality, and spend some time with the huge school of Jacks that hangs our around the stern.
Used to divers and snorkelers, the Jacks will allow you to enter their midst if you do so slowly and carefully and a good model will allow you to create some stunning images in the early morning light.
Schooling Jacks around the stern area of the Liberty wreck at Tulamben in Bali
There are usually very few other divers around so early in the morning and if you are lucky enough to be diving on a rising tide, bringing in clear water from the deep, then once you have had your fill of the Jacks, it is a great time to photograph both the stern and the bow of the Liberty.
Both are large steel structures, which at first sight are difficult to recognize as part of a large ship, but if you take your time to understand the orientation of the wreck it is possible to define them against the negative space of the clear blue water and a good model, carefully positioned, will add a nice touch of scale.
At that time of the morning, because of the wrecks position parallel to the north-east shore of Bali, the sun will be behind you and will help to illuminate the structures despite the low level of the overall light.
The sheer prolificacy of the currents that run through Tulamben Bay means that the prominent large structures of the bow and stern are richly coated in marine growth and the two guns that were mounted on those structures are hardly recognizable as deadly armaments anymore.
Prophetically the gun on the bow now has a large flower like growth of gorgonian fan on its breech which will make you want to put that “If you’re going to San Francisco” tape you have been saving in to the cassette player of the VW Combi hippy wagon…
Early Morning Image Gallery On the Bow & Stern Areas of the Liberty Wreck
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