Sulawesi North, Lembeh Island, Black Sand Dive Retreat

Written by on June 6, 2012 in Sulawesi Dive Centers with 0 Comments

Sulawesi North, Lembeh Island, Black Sand Dive Retreat


Diving in Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia Lembeh Strait: The Muck Diving Cleaner Shrimp Cleaner Shrimp Known as the “Muck Mecca”, Lembeh is famous as the best destination on the planet for what is known as exotic critter diving, macro diving, or muck diving. There are five shipwrecks (two of them Japanese WWII ships) and an impressive array of underwater topography, including pinnacles and verdant soft and hard coral gardens, but it is the plain black sand sites that make the area famous with their profusion of strange and beautiful attractions. What is considered rare elsewhere is relatively common here, including critters such as hairy frogfish, mimic octopus, mandarin fish, devilfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, ghost pipefish, seahorses, rhinopias and much much more. There is a tremendous variety of frogfish, venomous fish, snake eels, crustaceans and nudibranchs, with every dive offering an opportunity to find a species new to science. There’s something here for everyone, even the most jaded of divers. Go To : Dive Sites in Lembeh Strait Lembeh Diving: Why The Incredible Biodiversity? Mimic Octopus Mimic Octopus Lembeh Strait is auspiciously located in the famed “Coral Triangle”, which boasts the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet. As one move away from this area, the numbers of marine species decrease dramatically. Why are these waters so rich? It most probably is no coincidence that the largest water movement on the planet, known as the Indonesian Throughflow, splits past the northern tip of Sulawesi. To the north of Sulawesi, a string of volcanic islands form a chain all the way to the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Below the water this chain forms the Sarangani Sill, which divides deepwater basins to the east and west. To the west is the Sulawesi Basin. To the east there is the Philippine Sea and the West Caroline Basin. The movement of water westwards from this basin begins the Indonesian Throughflow. Hitting the Sarangani Sill, the shallow portions of this water flow over this barrier and continue westward and down the west coast of Sulawesi. The deeper waters hit the barrier and are diverted southward down the eastern side of Sulawesi and through the Molluccan islands. Most of North Sulawesi lacks a continental shelf, which means that abyssal depths exist directly offshore and these deeper, nutrient-rich waters are forced upwards and churned with surface waters as they are flushed through the narrow confines of the strait. Though currents are strong in the main channel, there are numerous small bays out of the current stream suitable for easy diving in which the nutrients settle to foster the rich biodiversity that our region is renowned for. Lembeh Strait: Diving Conditions Diving in Lembeh StraitBeing sheltered, Lembeh can be dived year-round, though some critters are seasonal, meaning that there are different things to see depending on the time of the year. The water is generally cool for the tropics, averaging 26-28 degrees Celsius (78 to 82 degrees F). With this in mind, full wetsuits are recommended to conserve body heat on the multiple dives done daily, which are often shallow, meaning long. But there are benefits to colder water, as a lowering in water temperature results in more critters moving into the shallows and cold upwellings spur mating cycles in pipefish, nudibranchs and other species. The visibility is also less than many dive destinations on average, owing to the nutrients in the water that are the reason for the wealth of biodiversity. Visibility averages 10-15 meters, though it can be somewhat less or as good as 30 meters. In general, the northern Lembeh Island sites offer clearer water, increasing in clarity as one heads north from mid-island into more open waters. But low visibility doesn’t lessen the experience as the attractions can be viewed from close quarters. Our Diving Day Yellow Rhinopias Frondosa Rhinopias frondosa Our diving program consists of up to four boat dives every day. Since almost all of the dive sites are within five minutes by speedboat from the resort, doing multiple dives daily is effortless. Our experienced staff will ensure that your tank is filled and waiting on board with your BCD attached and gear at hand. If diving with enriched air (Nitrox), guests check their air mixture with their guide before departure. There is a limit of four diving guests on each of our three polytech speedboats, which are equipped with communication equipment, first aid kits and navigation lights. There is also a limit of four divers per guide, though we lower that ratio if we have guides available to do so in order to maximize the level of personal service. The first dive is at 8:15 am, usually going to sites that are deeper such as wrecks, walls or pinnacles. The next jump is scheduled for 11:00 am and can be a muck or a coral site depending on what the guests want to see. After lunch, the afternoon dive is at 2:30. It is almost always a muck dive and usually nearby since the best black sand sites are less than a kilometer from the resort. If requested, the night dive is scheduled for 6:00 pm and considering how unbelievably fantastic Lembeh night dives are, we expect to go out almost every night. Our dive staff will learn what our guests wish to see and will plan the dives accordingly, taking into consideration weather conditions and currents. So you can do one or even four dives daily: it’s completely up to you. Our Splendid House Reef Wonderpus Octopus Wonderpus Octopus Right off our beach is some of the best diving in Lembeh Strait, open and accessible around the clock. The established dive sites of Hairball 3, TK1 and TK2 are literally at your doorstep. With two paid boat dives daily, guests can take a tank and have a free self-guided House Reef dive while guests on 3-dive / day packages have unlimited access. We allow solo diving on the House Reef at the discretion of the Dive Manager, though guides can be booked on request to help get the most out of our front yard, depending on availability. Because of a lack of currents, it can be dived at any time, day or night and it is at night that it is especially incredible. All of the iconic muck critters are regularly encountered: frogfish (nine species, possibly more), octopus (mimic, wonderpus, ocellated, white-v, brown mimic, reef and even the two undescribed species known generically as “hairy octopus”), squid, cuttlefish (including flamboyant cuttlefish), Rhinopias (frondosa and eschmeyeri), bubble shells, spanish dancers and far too many more nudibranch species to list, stargazers, various waspfish, ghost pipefish (robust, delicate, velvety, ornate and filamented), pipehorses, sea horses, heaps of banggai cardinalfish, flying gunards and fingered dragonets, juvenile clown sweetlips and barramundi, a wide variety of lionfish and scorpionfish species, numerous snakes, moray and ribbon eels, rays, crustaceans galore and much more. There is so much to see in the shallows that divers often never reach 20 meters. With this much to see in such easy conditions directly off our beach, divers can be assured of getting what our beloved friend Larry Smith would call “Maximum Critter Overload” and photographers can have all the time they wish to get that elusive perfect shot. Our Dive Team A good guide makes a world of difference for diving anywhere. In Lembeh Strait, without the sharp eyes of a trained guide, visitors would notice very little as many of the benthic critters are expert at camouflage. Since visitors come to Lembeh for the diving, well-trained guides with “magic eyes” are a top priority for us. Our guides all have a minimum certification level of PADI Rescue Diver and some of our guides hold PADI Divemaster and Instructor ratings. With their years of experience in the area, guests can be assured of seeing the very best that the strait has to offer. Under the supervision of Resort Manager Bruce Moore, who has spent more time underwater in Lembeh than any foreigner, our Dive Team can be relied upon to maintain the enthusiasm and marine knowledge that Bruce is renowned for.

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