June 25, 2012

Indonesia Manado Scuba Diving Trip - Lembeh Strait

Bastiano at Lembeh
Lembeh island, unlike Bunakean, is only a 10 min boat ride from the mainland. Along the Lembeh straits, there are fishing ports, mining activities and factories churning out grey smokes from their exhaust. I was thinking, "Why is this place such a famous diving spot with all these human activities all along the coast?"
Blowing Ring Bubbles

Marine Life Thrives despite all the industrial activities
We were told that the seabed straits of Lembeh are made up of black volcanic ash and is famous for murk diving. Diving in mud!??! What the hell are we going to see in mud?!? That is before we get exposed to the strange residents living in the volcanic seabed of Lembeh straits.

Diving in Lembeh straits requires a radically different diving technique from Bunakean's wall diving. The waters are relatively shallow at 30 feet and is pretty flat throughout. The challenge is this: most of the critters live on the seabed of the strait and to take a good picture, the diver need to literally prone belly flat on the black sand to snap the perfect shot. However, if you land too heavily on the fine volcanic sand, or kick off too hard, you will kick up a great amount of sediments which will earn you stares and rude gestures from other divers, whose cameras and mask are now covered in fine sediments. Learning how to land like a butterfly is the order of the day!

The visibility is not great at 5-10 meters but it is not something of great concern to us, when most of our attention is focused on the seabed. Here is a small video that I have created to let you have an idea what the diving experience is like.

Some of the notable residents of the lembeh straits are the electric clam, the rare Pygmy seahorse and the extremely rare and tiny lembeh seahorse, named after the straits itself. When the dive master pointed out the tiny seahorse to me, I thought it is just a line of fish shit (it looks just like my goldfish shit at home). It is only when Tim, the underwater photography instructor with his stacked magnifying lenses, showed us a blown up view of it, than we realize that what we have been seeing is indeed the rare lembeh seahorse.
Angel Fish.. I think

Rare Pygmy seahorse!
Sea Mantis

Puffer Fish eating coconut
Well, good things do come in tiny packages.

One of the regrets the entire trip is that we did not manage I visit any of the famous spots on the main manado island. They boasted of having the world's third largest Jesus Christ statue in the world. A huge Jesus statue in the middle of the largest Muslim nation in the world? This I have to see. Too bad I can only read about it on Wikipedia and the various travel guides on the Internet.


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