Thursday, March 05, 2009

Lembeh Strait, Manado - Sulawesi ... Here I come!

For my FIRST dive trip of 2009, two and a half years after I experienced life in the deep blue and enjoying waking up to compressed air each morning (and afternoon, and evening, and even night!), I have booked myself to ... Manado. I will be there all next week, so there will not be any updates.

My last visit there was as a newbie diver in late 2006 , and it remains my best dive memory! I am grateful that this time we have a direct Air Asia flight there, which cost RM$400 (El cheapo!), instead of the KL-Bali-Ujung Panjang-Manado route we previously took!

Sources: Wikipedia,
LEMBEH STRAIT has already been established as the mecca of what is known as muck or critter diving. Professional photographers and film crews are regular visitors to the strait, shooting award-winning images of the extraordinary inhabitants that mesmerize divers dive after dive.
Pygmy seahorses, mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, mandarinfish, hairy frogfish, ghost pipefish, rhinopias, pegasus seamoths, banggai cardinalfish, stargazers, bobbit worms, harlequin shrimp, candy crabs, bobtail squid, devilfish, snake eels, etc. The list seems endless, with every dive an opportunity to discover a species new to science. The array of nudibranchs and crustaceans is astounding. The number of cephalopod species on display amazing. The assortment of eels and venomous fish species is limitless.

I am looking forward to diving ...

Police pier : This muck dive site is common for harlequin shrimps (Hymenocera picta) on a Linckia starfish! Under the large columns of the pier you can find a special waspfish. There were a lot of Barramundi cods and the Banggai cardinalfishes (Pterapogon kauderi). They seem to be hiding between the spines of sea urchins and also joining the anemonefish hiding in anemones. The Banggai cardinalfish is endemic to the Banggai islands. It was probably introduced to Lembeh strait by dumping some aquarium specimens. Since there are a lot of orange sponges her is a really good place for the orange painted frogfish.

Nudi Falls : is a small vertical rock wall and below that a slope with sand and rubble that ends at about 27m. You are abke to see rare spindle cowries (Phenacovolva tokioi) and a flamboyant cuttlefish and Rhinopias. At the wall there is a Muricella gorgonian where you find pygmy seahorses and there is a crack with two fire shells hidden. Sometimes there are strong currents around the deep section on the rubble slope. says ... I can't wait to meet my ol' friend, the Lacey Scorpionfish aka Rhinopias once again. That, along with running outta air (Thanks, E buddy!), were the highlights of my previous visit!

Nudi Retreat : This dive site is a small and protected cove. On the top resides a pair of pegasus sea moths and a lot of different nudibranchs. At a night dive you are able to find a ghostpipefish in one of the sponges. The highlight was a juvenile batfish with orange fringe that looked just like a flatworm! Amazing! Possible encounter a sea snake and a huge Pleurobranchus snail.

Hair ball : at this dive site there is some of the world's best critter diving, a true muck dive site. A gentle slope covered with black sand and algae. There are occasional patch of sponges - those are the places to look for hidden animals like seahorses, frogfish or the ambon scorpion fish. All these animals are extremely well camouflaged, the frogfish we found was brown and gray with numerous appendages, the seahorses brown or black.

Mawali Wreck :
This wreck is a sunken Japanese freighter from World War II. The coral encrusted ship lies on its side between 17 and 35 meters. This wreck is in very good condition. This wreck is beautifully encrusted with crinoids, black coral trees and soft corals. The boom sticks straight out sideways, and in this area huge schools of fish gather. On one dive we saw a group of at least a hundred full - grown batfish, and school of small silversides the size of the house. Moray eels hide in iron cervices, and it seems at times that every encrusted lump is a scorpionfish of one species or another. Within the groove of an overgrown iron spool we found two large octopus, perhaps interupted in the private moment. The owners of the wreck, however are pride of lionfishes. Group of 6 or 10 are always out, and at times as many as 40 of these calmly majestc animals gather together. says ... I can't wait to do the swim-through / wreck penetration at Mawali's wide cargo-hold, an experience to behold :-)


worldwindows said...

This is one place I would like to go even without doing any diving. My Indonesian friends told me its so beautiful and serene.

fatboybakes said...

i so jeles. is there a mike tham in ur group?

ck lam said...

Have a fabulous holiday! Hope to see your outing review.

babe_kl said...

wow nice. hehe just lile fbb... is there a Will Phua in yr group?

Julian Si said...

Thanks CK Lam! Wow, you are quite the Pg food expert!

BABE_KL :-) Haha... nupe. But name is mighty familiar. In my trip this time are 2 other lads, EW and RL!

CUMI & CIKI said...

wow.. looks really neat.. but u wont have internet for a week.. izit?

Julian Si said...

Boo hoo .... yeah, no internet. Maybe no MOBILE PHONE reception! Eeeeep :-)

But what incredible diving awaits.. hmmmm! BANZAI!!

boo_licious said...

Have fun, lots of fun! Can't wait to see the pixs.

CUMI & CIKI said...

for a minute there i thot u sed.. nudist falls... :P:P

alamak.. no wonder no updates so long..