On todays second morning dive we went to Jahir Two – one of the popular black sand muck dive sites of Lembeh Strait. Since several weeks there are two Hairy Frogfish (Antennarius striatus) in the shallows of the dive site – a bigger yellow one and a smaller orange one (the smaller one is usually the male). Today it was a specially nice experience to see them, as they were sitting right next to each other, posing nicely for our divers until everyone had taken its pictures.
Hairy Frogfish are seen most frequently between August and Oktober, but – as this picture shows – they are also around during the rest of the year. Right now we are seeing a total of 4 individuals at three different dive sites.
On yesterdays morning dives we wanted to go to Batu Sandar 2 (or “Rojos”) but there were already 3 boats on site (2 directly on the dive site and one boat just jumping next to the dive site). So we decided to try something new and avoid the crowds. We kept going until we reached a little beach in between Batu Sandar 2 and the next village … and jumped in. It turned out to be a very good decision: Not only had the dive site an attractive mix of corals, rubble and sand – there were also lots of critters around. Directly after decending i found a little hairy type of octopus which was the first highlight of the dive. Then we had nudibranch galore – with one cool species after another, xenia coral shirmp, nice crab species and even a mimic octopus in the deeper, sandy part of the dive site. So even though we did not get to go where we planned we still had a fantastic dive with lots of critters and even more privacy: Our 4 guests had the dive site for themselfs with 3 Spotters – Paulus, Joni and Serge. The picture shows a tiny Cryptic Phyllodensium nudibranch on a little ascidian. We will go back there soon and we are also already thinking about a name.
Lembeh Strait is home to several species of Ghostpipefish including the Ornate, Robust, Slender, Roughsnout and Halimeda Ghostpipefish. But the rarest and most bizarre is the Velvet Ghostpipefish. It is smooth, relatively small and mimics sponges. And at the moment we are seeing them at 3 different dive sites: There are two purple pink individuals and one creamy white one. Two of them we are finding on newly discovered dive sites that we are diving – until now – as the only dive center here in Lembeh.
On todays second morning dive we went to Teluk Kembahu 1 (TK1) – a very popular dive site in Lembeh Strait. But one that hasn’t been dived much recently. A good reason for us to give it a try … because we not only like to discover new critters, we also enjoy diving without other boats on a dive site. And it paid off: At around 20 Meters we found this beautiful coloured juvenile Thorny Seahorse posing in between poppy orange sponges. The picture might not show it well, but it was about the size of a matchbox. This was specially nice for our Guest Ekaterina which really wanted to see seahorses today … we saw several common Seahorses in various sizes on the first dive and then found this beauty on the second dive. Mission accomplished 😉
On yesterdays morning dive at Sarena Patah – one of the Dive Sites around Sarena Island in Lembeh Strait – we found this little Clingfish sitting on a piece of Halimeda Algae in the shallows. He was about 1cm in size and stayed on his little algae leaf the whole time … he would move from one side to the other to hide from us, but he would not leave his little algae home. Which is strange, as he had very bad camouflage on it.
Usually Clingfishes either live in Featherstars (in which they are first protected by the Featherstar itself and second perfectly match the colour of the host) or in Sea Urchins (Urchin Clingfish) where the spines of the urchin protect the Clingfish from predators. Well anyway … we liked the lack of camouflage and protection a lot, as it gave us the possibility to take some pictures of this little fish that curls its tail in such a cute way.