Lembeh

Lembeh – macro paradise
Bitung, Indonesia

 

Lembeh: the place of macro dreams.

While I have spent the last year on Mabul searching for a plethora of weird and wonderful macro sea creatures, there are some I am yet to tick off the list.

And no better place to come.

Here, with promises of octopus (amongst others, the famed blue ring, mimic and wonderpus – all of which I am yet to see), cuttlefish, hairy frogfish, ornates, robusts and a variety of scorpionfish. All of these weird and wonderful creatures just hanging out waiting to be found across the black sand.

I am excited!!

I was picked up from my hotel at 8am for the 90 minute drive to Bitung. Last time I was in Sulawesi, two years ago, I caught bemos (small blue minivans) and the local bus to Bitung. However this time round, I can’t be bothered. They are small, uncomfortable and I have far too much luggage.

The boat from Bitung across the Lembeh straits was very quick, taking just 10 minutes to reach Lembeh island. Well, no sooner had I left a beach resort, I am back at another one!

The island itself is fairly large, but I am unable to leave my small resort. There are no paths around the island, the resort has been carved into the surrounding jungle! Well, you don’t really need to leave anyway – a beach, a hammock, some beautiful scenery and (almost) some sunshine. Isn’t that enough? L

unch was amazing – the food is delicious here! Fish in a coconut curry sauce.

For the afternoon dive, I thought it was going to be just me and the guide – awesome. But then 2 Chinese turned up. Oh dear. My previous experience with anyone Chinese is that they are all rubbish at diving. But maybe those who visit Indonesia are different – they had a big camera and 2 expensive strobes, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. But no, they were terrible. Sand EVERYWHERE.

It’s annoying enough when guiding, but even more annoying when paying to go diving.

After they had shortly ran out of air, I could begin to enjoy the dive properly – and we found loads! Highlights being: – a bright orange devil fish (only seen sandy coloured ones previously) – a tiny 1cm long orange cow fish – a tiny 1cm long orange frogfish! – 2 sea moths – harlequin shrimp!!! Excited about tomorrow now!

1.1359146789.harlequin-shrimp

Saturday 26 January 2013

The diving continues to be amazing.

Highlights of the day: – 3 Lembeh sea dragons on one dive, followed by another on a subsequent dive! – 4 species of pygmy seahorse – pink bargibanti, yellow bargibanti, orange Denise, Pontoh’s and Servern’s – a huge robust ghost pipefish – several frogfish – some cool nudibranches.

The morning diving had some really good parts, but I didn’t see as much as I was hoping for. Still some gaping holes of things I’ve not yet seen. So I ended up doing an extra dive than I had planned in the afternoon – fear of missing out!

The diving style of Lembeh is known as ‘muck’ diving. This is because most of the diving is searching around a sandy bottom, in bits of rubble and rubbish looking for cool small things. The term ‘muck’ could also refer to the amount of litter in the water – literally everywhere. A hundred times worse than the litter of Mabul.

Then, because I had not yet had enough, I went off for a night dive!

The night dive was particularly spectacular. Almost every type of blooming octopus possible, except for a blue ring!

1.1359146789.yellow-bargibanti

But it was really good, there was stuff just everywhere. Some of the night dive highlights: – octopus – a wonderpus as soon as we dropped down!! Several white-v octopus, a long arm, a pygmy octopus and a coconut octopus – some very weird nudibranchs – a selection of different scorpionfish – a painted frogfish

After dinner, I sat around in the bar. This is just like my life back at Mabul!

Sunday 27 January 2013

I woke to a miserable, raining day. It stayed that way all day – a very cold, cold day!

Out on the boat again at 8am – early diving days here! That’s because the dives are long – typically 75 minutes. After that amount of time underwater, I am freezing!

When people told me about Lembeh, they describe this amazing place where blue ringed octopus are on every dive and there are more animals than you have ever seen anywhere else.

1.1359146789.hairy-frogfish

Well, firstly, I’m up to dive number 7 (and my last one!) and no blue ring….yet.

Secondly, most of the dives I’ve done here – whilst being great and seeing that one special animal each time, have had large patches (upto an hour!) of seeing, well nothing.

So to my last dives. I had given up all hope of a blue ringed octopus. Highlights: – a hairy frogfish!! – some normal (giant and painted) frogfish – a robust- cockatoo waspfish – some cool nudibranches Half way into my last dive, the guide called me over – signalling a nudibranch.

A couldn’t see one anywhere. But what was there – a blue ringed octopus!!!!!! Yay!! I was so excited!!!

What a great way to end my dives here in Lembeh.

Before I came here, I had a list of ‘special’ animals that I really wanted to see: – Blue ringed octopus Tick! – Lembeh sea dragon Tick! (Saw 4!) – Harlequin shrimps. Tick! – Ambon scorpionfish. Sadly not, but can’t be too disappointed – Hairy frogfish. Tick! – Wonderpus or mimic. Tick!

So, I didn’t do too badly then! It has been amazing. I would definitely return – the animals here are so unusual and totally unlike anywhere else. It makes for very exciting diving – I love searching around in the sand.

After diving, it was still only 1pm. What to do for the rest of my day…..well a lot of photo editing!!
1.1359146789.blue-ringed-octopus

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