Monday, November 28, 2011

Lembeh Straits Scuba Diving Manado Indonesia

Scuba Diving is not cheap vacation on our perspective. Even we have very good coral reef to explore, sometimes our richness of beautiful places around cannot explored well coused by many circumtances. But luckily, some foreigner has good stuff and expose it on the net so we know better what we don't know about ours. Sound sad, but that is true. here is nice article published on underwater photography about lembeh strait, so, if you have time, you can enjoy this place someday.

mantis shrimp in lembeh strait
Mantis shrimp with eggs, photo by Mike Bartick

When divers want to photograph strange creatures, they think Lembeh. Muck diving? Lembeh. Lembeh, with it's great selection of resorts and well-trained dive guides, might be the best muck diving andmacro underwater photography destination in Indonesia.
Lembeh Straits lies near Manado, Sulawesi in Indonesia. After flying to Manado, you can be in the water usually within a couple hours. It is easy to dive Bunaken, known for its great corals and large fish, on the same trip as diving Lembeh, transfering between the two only takes a couple of hours.

A typical Lembeh underwater photography dive

A typical Lembeh Strait dive site is mostly sand, with small scattered patches of sponges, reef, or anemones. Your dive guide will bring you and 1-3 other divers down to about 60-80ft depth, where you start to look for photo subjects and slowly make your way shallower. The small patches of life are typically homes marine life such as clownfish, crinoid shrimps, small frogfish, pipefish, seahorses, nudibranchs, harlequin shrimp, etc. In the sand the dive guide will be looking for species such as various octopus, snake eels, mantis shrimp, gobies, nudibranchs, sanddivers, etc. You will be somewhat spread out, each person usually photographing one subject while the dive guide find the next subject. In the shallows juvenile fish are usually more common. It is good to discuss beforehand the rules your group will use for how long to stay with a subject, staying downcurrent of other divers because of silt, finning technique, etc.
hairy frogfish seen while diving lembeh
Hairy frogfish, photo by Mike Bartick

Lembeh Strait marine life

Lembeh is heaven for the macro underwater photographer. Lembeh straits has a great assortment ofstrange fish, macro critters and nudibranchs. You can view photos and a list of all the Lembeh marine life in the muck diving critter guide.
On my trip to the Lembeh Strait, highlights included seeing 2 hairy frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, juvenile barramundi, juvenile pinnate batfish, purple rhinopia, harlequin shrimp, mandarin fish, a beautiful snakeblenny in the open, and large beautiful stinging anemones.
Other notable sightings in Lembeh included:
Many different seahorses and pipefish, 3 different squid species, 3 different cuttlefish species, octopus, many different filefish, cowfish, and boxfish; bubble shrimp, tiger shrimp, crinoid shrimp , anemone shrimp, many other shrimps and crabs; bengai cardinalfish; many different gobies and blennies; snake eels, garden eels, ribbon eels, various other eels. many, many mantis shrimp. razorfish, convict blennies, schooling juvenile catfish, blue-fin trevally. pegasus sea moth, demon stingers, flying gurnards, many lionfish and pufferfish, whip coral gobies, bristle worms, cuckatoo waspfish, many different clownfish/anemone fish, many large & interesting anemones, many nudibranchs
soft coral crab underwater photo
Underwater photo of a soft coral crab, photo by Mike Bartick

Best time to visit Lembeh Straits

Lembeh can be dove at any time of the year. Dec-Feb are the rainy months but the visibility will still be fine for macro photography. Lembeh has been getting crowded recently, so try to go in the off season. Hopefully the dive sites will get mooring lines someday.

Lembeh water temperatures

July and August have the coldest water temperatures, getting down to 25 celsius (77F). Bundle up! Some people think the most critters are out during the cold months. Water temps get up to 29 celsius (84F) in Jan-Feb. Wear a full wetsuit year round.

lembeh strait underwater photography, snake eel
Napolean snake eel, Lembeh Strait

Lembeh Straits dive sites

The dive sites in Lembeh are generally sand, rock, muck, or rubble, but there are a couple sites with nice corals and walls. Marine life is generally prolific from 3-4 meters depth down to 25 meters depth. I prefer to dive on nitrox. Police pierNudie falls, Nudie Retreat and TK3 are definitely target-rich environments that you want to dive early and often. California dreaming and Angel's falls offer good wide-angle opportunities.

Questions to ask the Lembeh dive resorts

  • What is the max number of divers per guide? (3 is good, 2 is great)
  • Are night dives included or extra? (you want to do lots of night dives!)
  • Is there a charge for house reef dives? Can I dive there solo?
  • How many dives are offered a day?
  • Do you offer nitrox? 32 and 36 percent, or only 32? If I dive Nitrox, will the guide also dive nitrox?
  • Is there a time limit on dives?
  • Is water, coffee or food brought on the boats?

Best lenses for Lembeh straits underwater photography

  • 60mm macro lens on a cropped sensor will be useful on a majority of your dives
  • 105mm lens with a flipon wet diopter can be useful for creative photos and small shrimps & crabs
  • Tokina 10-17mm lens or a nikon 10.5mm fisheye with a 1.4x tele can be useful for creative CFWA (macro-wide-angle) photos of the larger seahorses, frogfish, rhinopias, eels out in the open, and any other subject that you can get close to.

Lembeh underwater photos

Except for the 3 photos taken by Penelope, these photos were taken without a strobe.  Unfortunately I had strobe / housing problems that couldn't get fixed while I was in Lembeh. I had to use my dive light instead, which is less than ideal, but better than nothing. These photos were taken in March of 2008.
convict blennies, lembeh straits
Convict blennies. These convict blennies at first glance look similar to schooling juvenile catfish, but lack the barbels, and are smaller.
juvenile barrimundi, lembeh
Juvenile barrimundi cod, seen at the Two Fish house reef. These guys are so cute and flop around like an underwater dumbo. Taken with a 105mm lens
mantis shrimp, lembeh
Mantis shrimp. We saw many mantis shrimp in Lembeh. Taken with a 105mm lens.
garden eel
Garden eel. There's a few different species of garden eels in Lembeh. 105mm lens
devil scorpionfish in Lembeh strait
Demon stinger. This guy was buried in the sand. 105mm lens, Lembeh straits
yawning paddleflap rhinopia
Open your mouth! Yawning Paddleflap Rhinopia. Photo by penelope foo
Spinecheek anemonefish, Photo by penelope foo
yellow ribbon eel
Female Ribbon eel, 105mm lens, Lembeh straits, photo by Scott Gietler
stinging anemone, lembeh straits
Beautiful stinging anemone, Actinodendron plumosum. Fuji F30 camera, Photo by Scott Gietler
Lembeh seahorse
Magnificent sea horse, 105mm lens, Lembeh straits

blue ring octopus underwater photo lembeh
Blue ring octopus, photo by Ene Anuar with a Canon G10

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...