VWe had two very exciting trips to Pulau Bangka and the
Lembeh Strait, respectively.
The island of Bangka lies at the northernmost tip of Sulawesi in waters with
currents so confusing that it required our utmost attention not to be thrown
against rocks and corals.
Underwater Garden of Eden
The dive site Sahaung consisted of large rocks and rock formations that made
the current turn off in unpredictable directions. But never before had we
seen so beautiful gardens of soft corals in all shapes and colours, and the
site was virtually littered with different and colourful species of
scorpionfish and filter feeders.
The water was fairly cold as the currents came straight from the depths of
the Celebes Sea – a measly 27oC - brrrrrr.
To the Muck Diving Capital
Lembeh Strait is situation on the east coast of the Sulawesi peninsular. Kim
of Eco Divers had told us that if God felt – according to local folklore –
that one of his underwater creations turned out too ugly he threw it in the
Lembeh Strait. And if that wasn’t enough there should be a very good chance
to see f.inst. the pygmy seahorse, so off we went.
First over land from Tasik Ria south of Manado to Bitang and then north
onboard one of the local narrow wooden boats that looked like it was just
about to capsize any moment.
Finally, the Pygmy Seahorse
Our first dive was almost normal though the visibility wasn’t more than 10
m. Benni, our guide, quickly found the fan coral where the pygmy seahorse
usually hangs out. He pointed, we looked – and shook our heads. He pointed
again, we looked again – and shook our heads.
Then like a magician he produced a magnifying glass from his BCD – and we
all nodded. Not only was the pygmy seahorse in colour and structure the
spitting image of its preferred fan coral, it was also no bigger than about
This Could be Hell
Like many other places Lembeh Strait was also full of nudibranchs in all the
colours of the rainbow. But as the Story of Creation goes we must admit that
there was something quite special – almost eerie – about this part of the
strait. Even the corals and sponges on our first dive looked odd,
Our second dive was simply surreal. We had crossed the strait to the
mainland and jumped in the water as we finished suiting up (the boat wasn’t
big enough for us to suit up all at once).
When we first peeked into the blue it looked like a normal day in Danish
waters: Sand, sand, sand… and about six to seven meters of visibility with
lots of fluff in the water.
The Magic of Benni
But then Benni set to work. And we got to see sea urchins that looked like
scarlet read neon signs trotting briskly along the bottom, fish with
delta-shaped wings – also trotting along, lots of seahorses, scorpionfishes
and frogfishes and stuff we didn’t even manage to find in the books
To this day our dives in Lembeh Strait are still the ones we talk the most
about – after a total of 27. Highly recommended.