Although most of my Divemaster course in Bunaken is done, this week I had a chance to spend a few days at our sister resort in Lembeh.
My last week in Bunaken has been a real rollercoaster of activities, involving a Project Aware beach clean up, lots of fun dives, a hair cut (!) and my snorkel test to celebrate finishing my course.
Admittedly, there’s no Dugong in this picture, but we did see Dugongs from the surface this week in Bunaken!
Heading out for our first dive a few mornings ago at high tide, our boat was crossing the shallow reef plate when when our dive guides spotted what looked like a large grey ‘mass’ moving across the reef. Slowing down and drifting closer, all of our divers spotted the so-called ‘sea cow’ playing in about two meters of water. We stayed and watched for a few minutes more.
We knew the week was off to a good start in lovely Bunaken when we were surprised by a pod of dolphins swimming and playing on the surface. While it is not uncommon to see dolphins in Bunaken, it is always a welcome treat! Returning from what had already been a great dive on the…
Yes, you’ve read that right – not one, but two Mola Molas breached Bunaken waters this week to keep our divers company during their surface interval, breaching the surface three times!
Having never dived before I decided to go “zero to hero”, from non-diver to Divemaster, with Two Fish and complete my Divemaster course in Bunaken. Why? Mainly because my dad had always loved diving and from his stories I knew I would too (I also wanted to get away from the miserable British weather), so I swapped England for sunny Sulawesi.
This week in Bunaken… Five different species of sea turtle are among the marine life Bunaken Marine Park is famous for and recently we’ve seen particularly big ones, true ‘battleship turtles in Bunaken’. They’re one of our guests’ favourite photography subjects. These past few days, they were in for a treat.
This week we said a big hello to welcome Yvonne to Bunaken – and we’ve also had an impromptu Koh Tao reunion.
It’s been a busy week for technical diving in Bunaken with Chris visiting from Koh Tao to do as many fun tech dives as possible.
We have discovered the biggest nudibranch in the world at Bunaken! We have christened him Godzilla and he lives at 45m on Mandolin. Giving us cause for concern that there may be nuclear waste or something down there creating monstrous molluscs!
We have had a burst of specialty courses at Bunaken this week; our dive master in training Guillermo has been completing his Fish ID, underwater Naturalist, and Search and Recovery courses. He has been joined by Scott who arrived last week from Lembeh to start his Divemaster course, Scott has completed his Search and Recovery, Nitrox and Deep specialties and we have a guest from Belgium, Manu who joined in and has completed his Drift and Deep. Fair play guys for continuing with your dive education; though going on a certain final search and recovery dive there is still a bit of education to go! Luckily they are still with us for a few more weeks. Congratulations too go out to Ellen, also from Belgium, who completed her Open Water course with Dion.
There are many unsung heroes on our reefs, one of my favourites is the long nose hawkfish in Bunaken, and its not often you manage to get two of them in a frame. Of course everyone likes to see the big stuff, turtles, sharks, rays and other big pelagics; and you have the other end of the spectrum where divers love the hunt looking for smaller and smaller shrimps and other critters.
It has been an elasmobranch week at Bunaken. In particular our deep divers Danny and Rachel were lucky enough to have sharks and rays on almost every dive this past week. Danny even lucked out and had an encounter with a scalloped hammerhead at 50m.
All the action wasn’t happening down deep though, we had an unusual visit from a brown banded bamboo shark, which had found a nice hole to hide out in on Lekuan Dua. Also the usual suspects of white tips, black tips, eagle rays and the abundant blue spotted ribbon tail rays kept everyone happy.
This week I, Jake, went for my first tech dive on Bunaken wreck with Dom and was feeling pretty special with all my tanks. I had an amazing dive its a really cool wreck with lots of swim throughs and a whole bunch of nudibranchs.
Also diving in to the blue on the walls of Bunaken with Barry and Louise from the U.K. almost immediately we were greeted by 2 pontohi pygmy seahorses we were all very excited and lots of pictures were taken. As for the rest of the dive we saw green turtles, orang utan crabs, boxer shrimp and many many more.
We have had some great dives this week and have even found a new wreck at Bunaken! Not that I think it will be attracting many divers, just out of recreational range Naomi and myself spotted two pretty new looking engines and long tail props along with some bamboo outriggers, whilst on a tech dive. Possibly the mission for a future search and recovery dive? This was just one of many highlights on a beautiful Mandolin dive; mating big eye trevally, sharks, stingrays, moray eels, massive maori wrasse as well as the reef bustling with life. All of this in beautifully mild conditions; warm water, great viz and a nice drift taking us along the reef. The picture attached shows the lovely scenery that we have to enjoy during our shallow stops; no boring blue water hangs for us.
I always appreciate it when one of our guests asks to undertake the peak performance buoyancy course; in my eyes that is diving.
These hairy squat lobsters at Bunaken remind me of one of the characters from Street Fighter; Blanka. I have been looking around the innumerous barrel sponges here for the past few days and have finally found some!
A prize find for shrimp geeks was finally captured on camera at Bunaken by our in house shrimpophile Robyn. Robyn has spent the last week doing night dives around Bunaken amazed by the amount of life that comes out to play only once the sun has gone down. The basket stars have been a firm favourite as they swarm over the reef, especially once she found they were full of their own little critters.
The reef certainly does not sleep at night in Bunaken, though many of its residents do of course. Whilst the parrot fish and triggerfish find nooks and crannies to wedge themselves for a night’s rest a horde of other critters vacate their hiding places and swarm over the reef.
We often get emails from people who are planning dive trips to Indonesia and want to know where the best places for diving are, and what we can suggest for a 8-10 day stay. This is actually very hard to provide, its like asking to give suggestions for a 8-10 day stay for skiing in europe!
However, we can provide some of the considerations that you need to take into account when you are planning dive trips to Indonesia, and we can provide some recommendations based on this.
So there will be no more posts about visibility here at Bunaken. After last week bragging of 50+M viz, that cold upwelling must have brought with it a lot of nutrients as we have had a plankton bloom and the viz has dropped to 10-15M in places! That may not sound too bad for a lot of you but its pretty much unheard of here.
50M+ Visibility at Bunaken! Sounds too good to be true? Well it came with a cost; the visibility was easily better than 50m- you could see forever but it was due to almost a 10C thermocline!
Water temp at the surface was a nice 28-29C which dropped a little on the way down but the upwelling dropped temps to 20C! This of course brought with it a heap of fish activity; we had sharks, a monster Napoleon wrasse, loads of dogtooth tuna, jacks and emperors. All in all it was an awesome dive, and as we left bottom back into the warmth we thought we had experienced the eventful part of the dive.
Our corner of the world is a well known haven for the weird and wonderful underwater; but usually most of the attention goes to our sister location of Lembeh Straits. Lembeh is of course an amazing destination, but it isn’t that far away and so it is of no great surprise when even our guides get their minds blown by something amazing.
Congratulations go out to Paula & Oriol and Laurent & Frederic as well as Celine for completing their Open Water course in Bunaken and to Tatsuya for earning his Nitrox certification. This week has seen a return to some pretty unusual currents here at Bunaken; ups, downs and merry go rounds- but the visibility has…
This week diving in Bunaken… A nice school of barracudas was seen during a day trip to Mantehage island. Unfortunately only one group of divers saw them which proves again that you just need to be at the right place at the right time. However, luckily there were plenty of large game fish such as tunas and trevallies, as well as quite a few sharks to keep all the divers happy.
This week in Bunaken… Dive guide Rolly really made the day for his divers, Magnus and Jonas from Denmark, when he found this stunning pair of halimeda ghost pipefish on the dive site Alung Banua. Halimeda ghost pipefish are very rare and sought after by many macro enthusiasts so we are super excited to have them here. Seeing that this is a pair we are hoping that they are going to hang around for a while! (Thank you Jonas for the photo!)