Molas / Mola Mola / Sunfish!
Molas are the one creature that all divers hope to see while diving Lembongan during this time of the year! We often get asked, how to increase the chance of seeing these amazingly strange creatures? One bit of advice we give people is to take the PADI Deep Diver certification course. We are going to look at a few points about why doing the PADI Deep Diver certification course helps increase your chance to see a mola.
These points are:
- Where molas spend most of there time
- Dive sites where we often see the molas
- Prerequisites for the PADI Deep certification
- What you will learn in the PADI Deep certification
- How we link the Deep course and the hunt for molas
Where molas spend most of their time:
The mola is a seasonal creature to the area of Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Molas are normally seen during the months of July to October. It is possible to see them outside of these months, but this is rare. The main reason the molas are spotted during these months, is because of the cooling of the waters and the cold upwelling.
During the months of July to October, the water temperature around Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida drops as the cooler currents push up into Indonesian waters from the south.
The Mola Mola spend a lot of the year in deep, cooler water. During the months of November to June, the water around the Nusa islands is too warm for them to come up shallow. It is thought that the molas do stay around the 3 islands all year round, but at depths that are too deep for recreational divers.
These cool waters that come up shallow, in the form of thermoclines, allow the molas to come up to depths where it is possible for divers to spot them.
Molas are very dirty fish, so reef cleaning stations are very necessary for the health of the Mola. Up to 54 species of parasites may reside on the skin and internally. When the molas come up to the shallow reefs, the reef fish are able to help clean the molas. This creates a symbiotic relationship; the mola is being cleaned and the reef fish are able to feed.
As these amazing creatures are normally deep, the deeper you are able to go, the higher the chance to see them. Most sightings of the molas are around the 25 to 45 meter mark. These depths are over the PADI Open Water and Advance Diver limits. The PADI Deep Diver certification allows you those extra meters, to help increase the chance of seeing the mola.
Dive sites where we often see the molas:
Cleaning stations provide a great opportunity to spot the molas.
In Lembongan, the most famous cleaning station is at Crystal Bay. There are also Mola cleaning stations at each of the dive sites on the north coast of Penida as well as at Ceningan Wall and Gamat Bay, in the channel.
How to recognize a cleaning station?
The main fishes that are find in a cleaning station for the molas, are the Moorish Idols and Banner Fish. If, while looking out into the blue water, away from the reef, you spot a group of Moorish Idols and Banner Fish together staying in the same area, this is likely to be a cleaning station.
If you do spot this fish activity, it is a good idea to keep your eyes looking out into the blue water in the hope that a mola will arrive up from the deep and enters this cleaning station. Fingers crossed!
Prerequisites for the PADI Deep certification:
After all this talk about where to find the molas, you maybe asking, what do you need to do to start the PADI Deep Diver certification!
There’s something exciting and mysterious about exploring deeper dive sites while scuba diving!
To start the PADI Deep course, you will need to:
- be at least a PADI Advance or Adventure diver (or equivalent)
- 15 years of age or older
- 2 diving days
- Medically fit
What you will learn in the PADI Deep certification:
Your training starts by reviewing reasons for deep diving and how important it is to know your personal limits. During four deep dives with your instructor, you’ll go over:
- Specialized deep diving equipment.
- Deep dive planning, buddy contact procedures and buoyancy control.
- Managing your gas supply, dealing with gas narcosis and safety considerations.
There is no exam or videos for the Deep certification, this means that you will be spending most of your time in the water, at depth, looking for molas!
How we link the Deep course and the hunt for molas:
By now you understand what you need to do to start the PADI Deep course and where to look for the molas, but how do these two work together?
There are 4 dives in the PADI Deep diver certification course, all 4 of these dives are done around 30 meters. This means that you and your instructor will have the chance over all 4 dives to look out into the blue water and around the cleaning stations in the hunt for the molas. On the 3rd dive of the course, you will have the chance to go to a max depth of 40 meters. This depth gives you the all important extra chance to see the molas!
You will learn how to dive safely to these depths, giving you peace of mind to look for the molas in a safe environment. With a greater understand of no stop times, decompression and surface intervals, you will be able to utilize the time you have at depth, looking for the molas!
During the mola season (June to October), we are currently running a special on our PADI Deep Diver certification course.
For more information about this special and to sign up for the course, check here!