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Pillarstein, known by some as Surge City, is the southern most face of Padar Kecil. The site is named for the small obelisk-like pillar balancing precariously on what is left of its wave-eroded base. Currents rarely affect Pillarstein, and it can be a good option if the current is too strong on other nearby sites. However it is fully exposed to the south, and prone to a lot of surge. From the surface Pillarstein often resembles a washing machine, although the surge is manageable once below the waves. Begin the dive in the small bay to the west of the pillar, and continue with the rocky wall on your right. The wall drops off to more than 40 m, and is riddled by numerous caves and crevices, rocky walls that protrude at odd angles, and long ridges extending out into the blue. Clinging precariously to those crevices and faces that are protected from the surge, magnificent fans and whip corals decorate the reef. Elsewhere vibrant soft corals, thick sponges, and verdant tubastrea smother the dramatic rocky wall. Lurking in the many caves are large groupers, soldierfish, dusky sweepers, and many unlikely crustaceans. A torch is essential to explore the numerous interesting caves and swim troughs. If the surge is not too strong, explore the wall carefully to find ornate lionfish, lurking scorpionfish, exquisite nudibranchs of many shapes and colours, and a host of critters too numerous to count. But don’t miss the excitement behind you out in the blue, where mantas, mobulas and other large pelagics may be seen. Depending on the group and the visibility you may travel 50 m or a few hundred meters along the wall, searching for critters and marvelling at the dramatic underwater scenery. Pillarstein is at its best when the water is clear, allowing full appreciation of the spectacular view.

Encounter Rate
Encounter Rate


The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only extant species in the genus Eretmochelys. The species has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies. E. i. imbricata is the Atlantic subspecies, while E. i. bissa is found in the Indo-Pacific region. The hawksbill's appearance is similar to that of other marine turtles. It has a generally flattened body shape, a protective carapace, and flipper-like arms, adapted for swimming in the open ocean. E. imbricata is easily distinguished from other sea turtles by its sharp, curving beak with prominent tomium, and the saw-like appearance of its shell margins. Hawksbill shells slightly change colors, depending on water temperature. While this turtle lives part of its life in the open ocean, it spends more time in shallow lagoons and coral reefs. Human fishing practices threaten E. imbricata populations with extinction. The World Conservation Union classifies the hawksbill as critically endangered. Hawksbill shells were the primary source of tortoiseshell material used for decorative purposes. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species outlaws the capture and trade of hawksbill sea turtles and products derived from them.

Encounter Rate


Bleaching occurs when corals expel their symbiotic zooxanthellae - pigmented, algae-like protozoa that live within the coral's cells. High temperature, pollution or other stresses can cause the coral to expel its zooxanthellae, leading to a lighter or complete loss of color.

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