Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 11 September 2014 • Destination
I believe there’s a time for everything. As I’ve observed the pattern of my life, I’m always grateful of every right moment given to me. Although some might consider these moments to be that of special and significant times, it’s a wider spectrum for me. It could be as simple as reading the Pedagogy of the Oppressed in college, or my first official muck diving at Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi. At that time, I felt that it was the right time to finally enjoy this technical dive after improving my buoyancy and a change of view after seeing a lot of corals, Bunaken included. It was time for the creatures of the Lembeh.
Lembeh Strait is said to be one of the best muck dive sites in the world. I asked the resident Twofish Dive Resort instructor, Danny, why is this so. Are the creatures really that odd here?
“Most of the creatures are quite common for Asia, but a lot of the crawlies often can be found in this one area, aside to the special residents. So, it’s like a one-stop dive spot for creatures,” she said. I nodded, followed what she explained. She suspects that the strait is rich of nutrients providing food for the creatures although the seafloor has less corals compared to other areas, such as Bunaken. Her face lit up as she continues to explain further, even though her eyes were droopy after her third dive of the day of many similar days; hazards of being an instructor.
Most of the dive spots in Lembeh are similar, as I was told. There aren’t many fancy landscapes, aside to the wreck and a few coral gardens. Usually, the water is murky because of the silts and particles. In general, most spots are flat sandy greyish seafloors. This was true on first impressions on both descends at Jahir and Serena West. There were barely any corals that divers could use as a navigating point. If there was, it was a spread of similar small corals. I tailed my guide well, as I didn’t want to get lost in the haze. But as plain as the floor seems, as I descended closer, I realize there’s a lot a life down there.
Since there were no colorful corals to distract me, I easily found the beautiful creatures of the seafloor. The sand was hardly still. The grains moved a lot, indicating there were lives below it. Most of them are the shrimps, gobbies and blennies that pop-out of their hole. Rocks turned out to be decorated crabs or such. But, there were other interesting creatures too, to name a few were the Redline Fabelina, Painted Frogfish, Cockatoo Waspfish, snake eel, Longhorn Cowfish, Robust Ghost Pipefish, Fireworm, Flying Gunnard, Reeftop pipefish, and naturally Flouders.
To my surprise, muck diving at Lembeh Strait was really exciting. Initially, I assumed muck diving to be pretty boring considering there wouldn’t be any corals nor fish to see. Turns out, it’s adventurous! It’s an experience where divers need to stay calm and really pay attention to what is really in front of them. It’s one of the most relaxing dives I’ve ever done and yet, fun because I get to find my own creatures aside to the help of the dive master. I’ve always enjoyed finding creatures on my own on every diving occasion, so this was an enhanced experience of my usual habit. You can’t really rely on the guide to find you the creatures, ‘cause you can fall into boredom, as there weren’t many other things to see. So, an independent search is also necessary. And I loved it!
Odd looking creatures. Top right fish walks with legs.
Muck diving doesn’t take up much energy. I scavenged the seafloor slowly and float with little kicking. Thus, it can make up for more time under the water. The usual bottom time with Twofish Dive Center is about 65-75 minutes per dive. This is more time underwater (to the usual 40 60 minutes) and more time to discover on your own. Also, with a camera in hand, may it be professional or amateur, there’s (almost) all the time in the world to get that perfect picture, as it’s a slow process. Heaven!
I strongly advise having a good buoyancy before muck diving at Lembeh Strait and some interest in creepy crawlies. Without good buoyancy, diving in Lembeh just becomes a sand storm to you and to others that want to enjoy the hunt. It’s also a constant dust in the eyes for the creatures, which might even drive them away sooner than expected. Aside to that, if you’re not into looking for the creatures, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll fall into boredom.
As recommended by Normansyah, I stayed with Two Fish Dive Resort. Nigel, who I think is the owner of the branches, kindly passed me on to Danny to get sorted on the resort.There are a few accommodation options for divers (or non divers) at the resort.
I took the budget room, which was EU 30 for single occupation and EU 25 per person for double occupation (yes, they charge in euro currency). The budget room had 2 single beds, a fan, a window, along with another 3 rooms above their office. Budget rooms share bathrooms that have sitting toilets and hot water. There are also bungalows spread around their spacious land. Prices already include 3 meals, wi-fi, unlimited access of coffee, tea, drinking water, and access to their hammocks. Woohoo! You’ll need to pay EU 5 to travel between Sulawesi Island to Lembeh Island and arranged by Two Fish Divers Resort.
For each dive, divers are charged EU 70 for two dives, which include boat rides. The whole dive gear can be rented for EU 15 per day, or can be rent separately.
For more information on Twofish Dive Resort, you can head here:
I do have to mention, I got their purple sleeveless T-shirt and it’s so comfortable. Hey! I’m Indonesian, I like tokens of my travels!