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Published: August 26th 2007
Locally called Joefish
Two hours drive from Manado, Sulawesi - is Lembeh. It's a port city, the Lembeh straits and island just 2kms of dark murky sea water away. Oil sheens the surface, trash floats and sinks around old boats. Tough looking Indonesian port works and seamen carry massive loads up precariously leaning plank gangways, loading the boats. Muscles and veins bulging, blurry tattoos clearly self made they stare with wild eyes at us - strange visitors from the west.
The water looks uninviting. This is where we are to dive next.
The Lembeh Straits are world famed for macro-life, Frogfish, Nudibranches, Scorpion and Lionfish and many other strange and wonderful creatures, most only ever seen by divers in books. A photographers paradise. I'm really looking forward to diving here. Back on the island (Perhentian Kecil) Eve of Coral Sky Divers had encouraged me to visit here - telling stories of the weird and wonderful creatures I'd see.
A small narrow boat squeezes between the large cargo vessels, a smiling cheeky looking Indonesian man waves to us and invites us aboard. Opo the chief dive guide at Two Fish Divers in the Lembeh Straits.
The next day is the
first of two full days of dives for us: the water is uninviting, I relent and rent a wet-suit! - 26'C is too cold for just a rash vest and board shorts. I'd been cold enough in Bunaken and in Lembeh it can get down to 25'C. We set off and explore dive sites with names like Nudibranch Paradise and Hairball II. It's not deep diving, no walls, not much in the way of reef, the sand is black volcanic. We slowly make our way lazily kicking across the sands keeping our eyes out for critters.
We spot Eels, Frogfish and Nudibranches by the hundreds, Franky and Opo point out creature after creature, this is muck diving at it's best. I am in paradise. I take photo after photo, watch the strange behaviour of the creatures. Referring to 1001 Nudibranches in the evenings - "geeky creature id sessions" (thanks Sunny!).
My favourites include the Hairy Frogfish - a fish based living teddy bear, Joefish - a colourful and characterful Dragonet that darts from crevice to crack breifly posing in each. The Imperator Shrimp that spends is existence on the back of a Nudibranch feeding on it faeces.
Two days fly by, us five friends are the only customers at the time. Our mission is accomplished. Seeking out strange new creatures is easy in the Lembeh Straits. Notes:
I used a Canon Ixus 800IS and WP-DC5 underwater housing. Most shots are colour corrected and cropped - though not excessively. More details.
We dived with Two Fish Divers
- they are currently just starting out in Lembeh, so the accommodation is continuing to be improved, though currently very acceptable. The food served are good local dishes - if you're vegetarian let them know in advance - they will include extra dishes. This goes for all resorts.
Costs: we were paying $80 per day for 3 dives, equipment rental was extra but reasonable. Accommodation and food was around $20 a night per person.
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