Heart & Brain Underwater


Return to Lembeh – North Sulawesi, 26 – 31 Dec 2012

Lembeh Resort

Lembeh Resort


Lembeh Resort









Second time to the luxurious Lembeh Resort, also booked through critters@lembeh. We were arranged adjourning garden rooms, which were very conveniently near the restaurant. 🙂 SL took her advanced open water with patient Lauren, it was a good time to tune up her buoyancy and dive confidence.

Fandy was our guide for most of our dives there. It was good to see that he had gained much experience since our last trip to Buyat and still very enthusiastic about his job. 🙂 The dive guides will record all the critters we saw during the dive on the dive slate, guests can conveniently take a photo of the dive slate. 🙂 At check-out, the dive centre will prepare a list of the dive sites that we had visited.

After being transferred from Bangka, it was in the mid afternoon, so we went for a check-out dive at the house reef. Saw anemone shrimp, pipefish, signal goby, pinnate batfish, coral crab and nudibranch.

The sweet LR staffs brought a surprise birthday cake to our room for T’s bday!

27 Dec 12

Nudi Retreat 2 – strong current. Whip coral shrimp, pygmy seahorse, octopus and nudibranch. TK3 – crab with fire urchin, devil scorpionfish, stonefish, a pregnant seahorse, mantis shrimp, baby filefish, figered dragonet, stargazer snake eel, emperor shrimp hitching a ride on the nudibranch and box crab. Aer Prang 2 – coconut octopus, slender pipefish, black saddle snake eel, orangutan  crab, zebra batfish, cuttlefish, baby sweetlips, nudibranch, commensal shrimp. Dusk dive – Mandarin dive – mandarin fishes hiding amongst broken staghorn corals – only 1 pair mated, flatworm, dwarf cuttlefish.

Emperor shrimp hitching a ride

Emperor shrimp hitching a ride

28 Dec 2012

Tanjung Kubur – Porcelain crab, robust ghostpipefish, zebra batfish, napoleon snake eel, juvenile barramundi cod, juvenile bi-color parrotfish, zebra oyster, nudibranch, BLUE RING Octopus! Critter Hunt – scorpionfish, jawfish, velvet ghostpipefish, moray eel, blue ribbon eel, cuttefish, cowfish, pygmy seahorse, moray eel, pinnate batfish, solar powered nudibranch (spotted by me!), nudibranch, mantis shrimp with eggs! (finally!). Pintu Colada 2 – scorpionfish, blue spotted stingray, juvenile barramundi cod, banded pipefish, razorfish, seamoth, baby filefish, black ribbon eel, peacock mantis shrimp, pale chin moray eel, snow flake moray eel. Night dive –  Jahir 1 – carpet sole, cuttlefish, scorpionfish, blue spotted stingray, squid, painted frogfish, fireworm, flounder, cockatoo waspfish, robust ghost pipefish, spanish dancer, longhorn cowfish, moon head sea slug.

Blue Ring Octopus - BRO

Blue Ring Octopus – BRO

29 Dec 2012

Hairball 2 – Fingered dragonet, napoleon snake eel, orangutan crab, star grazer snake eel, flounder, crinoid crab, devil scorpionfish, hairy frogfish, scorpionfish, warty frogfish, peacock mantis shrimp, cockatoo waspfish, cowfish, nudibranch. Makawide 2 – banded tozeuma shrimp (1st time!), ornate ghostpipefish, fimbriated moray eel, thorny seahorse, orangutan crab, painted frogfish, spiny squat lobster, nudibranch, harlequinn sweetlips. House Reef –  double ended pipefish, pipefish, barramundi cod, LEMBEH SEA DRAGON (!!!), spiny squat lobster, unicornfish, harlequinn sweetlips.



30 Dec 2012 – Guide: Ramly

Pulau Abadi (a working harbour) – flambouyant cuttlefish eggs, baby flambouyant cuttlefish, sea spider, peacock mantis shrimp, nudibranch. Aer Bajo 3 – 3 tiger shrimps! A pair of ambon scorpionfishs, emperor shrimp, fingered dragonet, crab on fire urchin.

More photos here


Tiger Shrimps!


First Time to Pulau Bangka – North Sulawesi, 23 – 26 Dec 2012

We were about to leave home, when I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten my underwater torch, scrambled around and after a 10 mins search, finally found it… The better-half/ driver/ dive buddy was pissed that I had left the packing to the last minute. The Silkair flight was over-booked; luckily we had done the internet check-in on Thursday. The flight was uneventful, except that my neighbors were laughing very loudly while watching Gags for Laugh. Borneo looked very green from the air and there were lots of river meandering through it, at the coast, the rivers brought silt into the ocean.

We were promptly picked up by the staffs of Murex Bangka at the Manado Airport and the drive from the Manado Airport to near Paradise Hotel (which was under renovation), was about 1hr, through picturesque little villages, with their numerous small churches and colourful cemeteries. Boat ride across the strait was about 25mins, through choppy seas. Murex Bangka is situated at a beautiful white-sand beach about 300m, on the left side, the surf was strong, the right side was calmer. My bro D and sis-in-law SL went for a quick snorkel around the area, it was quite nice. Our rooms were large and comfortable, equipped with ceiling fan and mosquito net.

Songra was our dive guide for our trip and he was quite good at his job. D had also developed a good set of eyes for spotting critters.

23rd Dec – 1st dive: Tiga Batu (means 3 rocks), about 15 mins left of the resort. The surge was very strong near the rocks. We saw reef cuttlefish, a pair of brown robust ghost pipefish, 2 hippocampus briganti , D spotted 2 cleaner shrimps in a crevice, an orange frogfish, clown frogfish.

2nd Dive –  Tanjung Usi, less than 10mins left (of the resort). We saw 1 black and 1 large sulphur-green frogfish. D spotted an octopus.

3rd Dive – Demak (named after 2 guys who first dived that site), about 5mins right. Songra said he will find Hippocampus Colemani and he did – 3 white with a little green/orange at 1 of the rocks plus a black ornate ghost pipefish and a very small brown Hippocampus Potoni on the other. He found an orangutan crab, D spotted a cute nudibranch halegra.


24th Dec – A super rainy Christmas Eve, it rained the whole day long. On the way to Sahuang for our 1st dive of the day, we saw a rainbow. This site is a little further away than Tiga Batu. The surge was huge, surf was breaking against the rocks, looked very intimidating. I was elated to see a large Napoleon wrasse, it has become quite rare in Indonesian waters. The site was very beautifully endorned with colourful soft coral, towards the end, there was a terrace that looked man-made and pancake rock area – could it be the lost Alantis? A small hairy squat lobster in a large barrel sponge, several nudibranch – a large yellow, and several common ones. The highlights of the dive are 2 white-tip reef sharks that are circling underneath 2 large table corals. There was a very large school of blue-lined yellow snappers.

2nd dive – Tanjung Musi 2, it was chosen because of the challenging conditions at Sahuang. D spotted an octopus and a large black frogfish that looked just like a sponge, 2 spiny lobsters, Sangro showed us a black ribbon eel, reef cuttlefish and a very tiny whip coral squat lobster, SL spotted an elegant fuchsia nudibranch.  T saw 2 orangutan crabs.

3rd dive – Demak 2.  Sangro spotted a cute reef cuttlefish hiding in a barrel sponge and a beautiful peacock mantis shrimp which was uncustomary out in the open. This site had lots of sea pens at the flat area. T spotted a moray eel. 2 types of cleaner shrimps and 2 brown crabs were hiding in a sea plant.

Diving on Christmas was rewarding!

1st Dive – Batu Mandi. Large broadclub cuttlefish hovering above the hard corals, Longhorn cowfish, Moray eel, white baby clown  fish, 2 larger clownfishes – yellow and white, small broadclub cuttlefish hiding in the crevice,  white scorpionfish, nudibranch.

2nd Dive – Sampiri. School of bluestrip snappers and spanishflags, pair of ornate ghostpipefishes – the male was smaller and black and the female was colourful and carrying eggs, black pipefish, orange smooth mantis, anemone shrimp, cute tasseled scorpionfish, painted spiny lobster, violet nudibranch and yellow boxfish.


Ornate ghost pipefish with eggs…

3rd Dive – Sabora. Orangutan crab, anemone shrimps, pair of large black frogfishes, peacock mantis, 2 gorgonian pygmy seahorses – dark brown and yellow, polyclad flatworm, a pair of nudibranch, moray eel, large pufferfish.

Due to high winds, we weren’t able to make the boat transfer to Lembeh. So, the usual way – boat back to Manado, drive to Bitung and a short 10 mins boat ride to Lembeh Resort.

More photos on Facebook

Dolphins Vs Sharks

Sigh, it is so sad to read news like this…

Dolphins butchered for shark bait in illegal hunt off the coast of Peru

by Lara Whyte, Digital Producer – last updated Thu 17 Oct 2013 http://www.itv.com/news/2013-10-17/dolphins-butchered-for-shark-bait-in-illegal-hunt-off-the-coast-of-peru/

I have first read about dolphins butchered for shark bait in ScubaDiver Australasia, similar to report from Paul Hilton… http://www.paulhiltonphotography.com/index.php/field-notes/41

Have loved dolphins since young (maybe because of Flippers?) Have learned to love sharks since becoming a diver, so this is doubly sad…


22 Oct 2013: Add  http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1335395/peru-considers-shark-fishing-curbs-stop-dolphins-slaughter-bait

“Peru considers shark fishing curbs to stop dolphins’ slaughter for bait”

“Peru said it might restrict shark fishing to curb the illegal slaughter of up to 15,000 dolphins per year – used as bait by rogue fisherman – following a dramatic increase in sales of shark fins to Asia.

Most of Peru’s shark fin exports, which have jumped 10 per cent in recent years, go to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and other Asian nations, the Production Ministry said.”



Reblog “Manta Rays Under Attack – Will CITES Save the Manta”

Manta Rays Under Attack – Will CITES Save the Manta

美丽, 神秘的蝠鲼 fu2fen4(熟称“魔鬼鱼“)面临绝种的危机!!! 罪魁祸首:蝠鲼腮,也称”虫彭“鱼鳃 (peng2yu2sai1)!


Manta Rays are many scuba divers’ favourite, including myself. It pains me so much to see them butchered for their gills!!!


Shawn’s inspirational talk has been subtitled in Chinese! 原来 manta 的中文名是前口蝠鲼!!!

TEDxBoulder 用艺术的灵感激发海洋保护行动 “Shawn Heinrichs用音乐和摄影向全世界的人们呈现了令人惊讶的海洋生物之美。我们们都会自发地爱护所爱之物,面对惊艳却又濒临灭绝的海洋动物们,你会加入停止海上杀戮的行列中吗?”

More links:

Add (10 June 2014) :   WildAid Report: “http://www.wildaid.org/sites/default/files/resources/The%20Continuing%20Threat%20to%20Manta-Mobula%20Rays_2013-14%20Report_FINAL.pdf

“A huge shadow engulfs us. Confused, we look toward the surface, wondering if the dinghy captain is growing impatient. The late-afternoon sun has been blocked by a massive oceanic manta ray — practically 15 feet across — gliding overhead. Stevens digs out of his pocket a small point-and-shoot camera, and grabs an ID shot. The spot pattern on a manta ray’s belly is unique to each animal and can be used to identify it, much like fingerprints. The manta banks back sharply, as if to watch our work, making three more passes before we’re done. Now that we’re up in the water column, he flies within inches of our heads, taking a moment to make direct eye contact each time.”
“Preliminary fisheries reports gathered by the Manta Trust in Sri Lanka estimated as many as 55,000 mobula rays — and more than 1,000 mantas — being hauled into the country’s fish markets every year.

While a few thousand mantas each year might not sound like much, these amounts might be hugely damaging to manta populations: Consider that over the past 30 years, Rubin has identified fewer than 400 individual mantas in Socorro. Manta populations do not appear to be large, and they’re very vulnerable to exploitation. A mature female manta gives birth to only one pup at a time after 13 months of pregnancy, and most likely only once every two to five years. This slow population growth causes a striking inability to quickly replace large numbers of mantas removed from the population.”

http://www.paulhiltonphotography.com/index.php/field-notes/50 Millions of Dollars lost for Manta Tourism

“Most of Tanjung Luar’s fishermen have always targeted sharks, rays and dolphins. Many of them have done time in Australian prisons and detention centers for illegal fishing and human trafficking. Now most local fisherman can’t afford to head down towards Australian waters, due to the recent fuel hike of forty percent across Indonesia. There, they could fill up their holds with sharks and mantas, within a couple of days. But now, they have been forced to fill up their holds closer to home. The fishermen confirmed that the reef manta that was caught on the 29th was found just off the coast of Sumbawa. They stated that the going rate for manta meat is 8,000 Indonesian Rupiah or US 73 cents per kilo. Then the gills are dried and sold for USD 130.00 per kg to supply the Chinese gill trade.”

Muck Diving Techniques from Steve Fish

The talented Steve Fish at Lembeh Resort made this wonderful video. I think no divers should attempt to muck dive at Lembeh (or anywhere else) before first watching this! I love muck diving and the Lembeh Straits and felt that I have to share this!

Critters@Lembeh has made copies for all the dive operators in the Lembeh Straits. Jolly Good Fellows!