Sunday, November 7, 2010

Diving Lembeh @ 29 Sep - 4 Oct 2010

I booked the same diving package almost right after my Lembeh diving trip last year. Yup, I just could not get enough Lembeh and the diving lodge was simply superb in all aspects! This year, I was determined to spot those critters that I could not cross out last year. With ease, I spotted most of those critters in this trip …. Wonderpus, mimic octopus, blue ring octopus, bobbit worm, hairy frogfish etc. Definitely surfaced with contended smile after each dive, especially on my first day.

Two surprising shots from this trip - anemone shrimp and squat lobster bearing eggs!

A recap for those who are not familiar with Lembeh Straits. It was located opposite Manado city in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Don’t worry, the place was protected and could be dived year round. Most of the dive sites are black sand and rubbish enriched. Exactly it is the rubbish which nourishes the underwater critters here. All sorts of scorpionfish, frogfish, stonefish, octopus and small alienated critter lurk under the polluted straits. It fits its diving nature perfectly – muck diving, a true heaven for underwater photographer. Your naked eyes will always fill with unbelievable sights. Those critters are not earthly, each of them is either equip with extreme poison pouch or has near perfect mimic behaviour!

Disguise master - Scorpionfish & pygmy seahorse.

Octopus Maniac
Met my first wonderpus during the checkout night dive. On second day, met my first mimic octopus. This fellow got its unique and peculiar charisma. As its name suggests, mimic octopus is the master of mimicry. It could mimic seasnake, flounder, lionfish and other poisonous critters to avoid enemy’s attention. I was thrilled and when I made the snapshot, it actually changed so many form to feign off my camera. Ha… of course I enjoyed every moment of its performance.

Mimic octopus trying to fool my Canon camera.

Blue ring octopus is perhaps the most photogenic critters. When it is undisturbed, it remain as mud like colour which was bored and uninteresting. When it is agitated, it flashes its blue ring deeply and madly! But don’t ever mess with it, it is perhaps the most poisonous critters after seasnake. Worst of all, there is no cure for its bite currently. Fortunately, it does not bite unless it is life threatening.

Blue ring octopus was so pissed with my Camera. Yup, same octopus which could change colour in second.

It was always pleasant to spot coconut octopus. It usually grabs coconut shells with its tentacles. When it senses danger, it will “close” the shell and hide inside for a long time. Also, it is a very curious creature which likes to try various hideout point, such as empty bottle, shoes or containers.
Another scene to behold. My dive master showed as a GIGANTIC octopus in a reef dive. It was as huge as a car wheel! Ferociously, it ejected large volume of black ink when my dive master tried to sneak it out. Sweet!

Coconut octopus holding a shell.

Flamboyant cuttlefish, another poisonous critter.

Ugly Betty
Hairball frogfish is the ugly betty of Lembeh Straits, so ugly but yet cute and hilarious. First, our dive guide managed to find us a hairy frogfish. Yet, we complained that its hair is not “hairy” enough. He then found another one which was really super hairy! It crawled clumsily, yawned nonchalantly as if it had the whole world by itself. I liked the attitude very much. Don’t misjudge frogfish, again, it is poisonous and its ambush + hunting skill is perhaps the best! A lighting fast blow and the poor fish in front was no where to be seen. Its mouth could stretch enormously and this allows it to swallow a fish bigger than you expect.

Hairy frogfish about to yawn!

Another beast lurking at night is bobbit worm. This little alien-looking worm is not something you want to mess with. It always sticks out its shinny and plasticky body from the ground. Its snap is powerful that it could cut the poor fish to half in millisecond. Believe it or not, this worm could grow more than one metre!

Fearsome bobbit worm which could tear fish to pieces.

The Usual Suspects
As usual, I spotted the other common critters here, such as pipehorse, seahorse, coleman shrimp, spider crab, skeleton shrimp, squat lobster, pygmy seahorse, nudibranch etc. It is always Give & Take. I did not have any luck on rhinopias and tiger shrimp. But what the heck, it is the perfect excuse to revisit Lembeh Straits again.

Startled hermit crab.

Hiding goby.