La Casa update – New underwater pyramids

La Casa update – New underwater pyramids

History of La Casa

Bottles marking the entrance of La casa and underwater pyramids

After successfully constructing Roda Reef, Dive Timor Lorosae set about constructing their second artificial reef ‘La Casa’ in 2016 at the Eastern end of Tasi Tolu beach. Old retired scuba tanks were placed which make crevices for moray eels to hide. 

A chair frame and metal table are now covered in marine life.

Glass bottles which have now become almost unrecognisable due to the coral attached to them mark the entrance to the site. 

And a toilet which is now home to a large moray eel that lives in the bowl.

Underwater Pyramids

Pufferfish and chair la casa underwater pyramids Timor

It was looking a little bare so we decided to recycle some old sun tents that were broken and make underwater pyramid structures out of them as we had all seen this type of structure being successful in other countries.  To the pyramids we added off cuts of galvanized mesh donated by a local construction company Concept Construction, held on by metal wire. To make sure they were stable we used left over cement from a recently rendered wall and made the cement moulds from empty paint pots (from the same wall) so everything was recycled.

Getting the pyramids placed underwater took some maneuvering by PADI Instructors Bailey and Marti, involving lift bags (here’s where the PADI search and recovery specialty comes in useful) but they successfully placed two on a bare sand patch, far from the sea grass which is a favourite place for the dugong to hang out.

The pyramids adopted

Batfish adopting the underwater pyramids

A week later Bailey and Marti put down another three pyramids and already the original two of the underwater pyramids had growth on them, one had a crinoid and they had become a hangout for a shoal of baby batfish.

A month from the original pyramid placements, we dived La Casa again and found more crinoids (feather stars), loads of batfish everywhere, and different species of pufferfish hanging out under them.  Nudibranches and shrimps and we also found a rarely seen rhinopias, much to our excitement.

The whole site is awesome for macro but one of the greatest visitors we get there is dugong.  When Bailey and Marti were placing the underwater pyramids, the dugong came and checked them out.  But don’t worry, the pyramids  are far enough away from the seagrass so as not to disturb it’s natural feeding ground.  That’s why we discourage any boats from dropping anchors as you never know what marine habitat is below you.

Rhinopius by BaileyDive Timor Lorosae has adopted La Casa as a dive site and will do regular dives against debris and monitoring. Check out https://www.diveagainstdebris.org/adoptadivesite for more details of how you can adopt a dive site as part of Project AWARE’s flagship citizen-science program.

Watch this space for more updates!

Rhinopias photo thanks to Bailey