How to Behave Around Mola Mola

Get the most of diving with Mola Mola in Bali

The dive sites in Bali are full of life and all sorts of beautiful, even rare, creatures. One of the most peculiar ones is with no doubt the large Ocean Sunfish, commonly known as Mola Mola.
 
They do live around Bali all year round, however for most of the year they are in the depths too deep for recreational divers to spot them. Therefore it is not so easy to encounter Mola Mola while diving. However, from approximately August to the end of October, probably due to changing currents and water temperature, these amazing giants find their way to shallower waters and bless the divers with their presence.

That is, if the divers follow a few simple recommended rules. Read on if you want to make the most of scuba diving with Mola Mola in Bali.
 
We live in an era where the previous generations have made their mark in the destruction of animals’ natural habitats and in driving many species to the verge of extinction. Unfortunately it seems that our generation is still not fully aware of this scary fact. While protecting nature should be in everyone’s interest, scuba divers are one of the groups that are probably involved the most directly, and often get the closest to making interactions with wildlife in the oceans. It is every diver’s duty to behave responsibly during a dive. There are at least two reasons for that. The first one is the diver’s own safety and the second, not less important though, is the safety of underwater residents.

 
When scuba diving, we enter the sunfish realms to watch them from up close, but our uneducated or even arrogant behavior might interrupt their natural habits, disturb and even stress the critters and eventually drive them away. Therefore it is important to keep a proper conduct while diving with Mola Mola. The following suggestions are the least we can do in order to minimize our interference with the precious wildlife. .

1. Dive in small groups

Ocean Sunfish are not particularly fond of air bubbles coming out of the dive regulators or too much fuss in general, which makes the attempt to encounter the fish even more challenging. Diving in small groups (no more than 4 people at a time) is less frightening to them. Like with any other wild creature, you cannot expect to see them every time you dive, even during August to October when Mola Mola usually make their appearance. If you do see them, minimize your interaction to about 5 minutes, when other diving groups are present.

Read more about the best time to come to Padangbai for Mola Mola

 

2. Keep your distance and keep calm

Ocean Sunfish love spending time at the so called cleaning stations, where small fish tend to their skin, getting rid of parasites. This is where divers have their best shot at seeing them more clearly and enjoy their presence for a longer time. If you see a Mola entering the cleaning station, keep your distance. Whilst being cleansed, they enter into a sort of comatose state, where they relax and don’t pay too much attention to the surroundings. Even so, it is strongly advised to maintain distance of minimum 3 meters when the animal is being tended to by the little helpers. When it is unsettled, back away to about 10 meters from the fish. In rare occasions when an Ocean Sunfish approaches you, remain still and do not touch it. If you touch it, you might remove a layer of mucus that protects the fish from infections.

3. Underwater photography

At cleaning stations, you are probably tempted to get as close as possible. Whatever you do, do not break the safe-distance rule and, for quite obvious reasons, avoid using flash photography. You can imagine, how irritated you would be, if someone interrupted your “spa” session with constantly flashing sharp light in your face… Also, swimming underneath the fish makes your air bubbles travel directly towards it. This is considered an overly aggressive diving behavior, and all scuba divers should know better than this.

4. Choose the best dive operators

Professional dive operators understand the code of conduct around Mola Mola. They know how to interact with the fish, keep a safe distance, and prevent destruction to natural wildlife. Anytime you plan to do recreational scuba diving which involves Mola Mola dives, choose your operator carefully and check any references you can get. Ask for recommendations from your friends, and contact the operator for further explanations. In this modern day and age, there are plenty of travel and activity portals, Tripadvisor being probably the largest, where you can easily read past guests reviews. If you think the dive plans are disruptive to wildlife, don’t hesitate to let the community know and continue looking for a more reliable dive shop.
 
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Want to dive with Mola Mola in Bali? We recommend you to complete your PADI Advance Open Water Course. Not only will you broaden your diving knowledge and improve your skills and confidence as a diver, you will also be certified to dive to up to 30m and thus have a better chance to see this beautiful fish from up close as they usually linger in depths around 20 – 25m when in season.
Contact us for more information, schedule & prices.

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