So as the World Cup came to end in mid-July, Two Fish Divers has got busier and busier until now where we are full to the brim!
It has been a great 6 weeks over in Lembeh firstly the critters have been out in force and we are regularly seeing some of the more rarer species. Blue-Ringed Octopus, Wonderpus and Tiger Shrimps have all been making numerous appearances. As you may or may not know, Lembeh Straits is a Mecca for Frogfish and we have been them in large quantities whether they be Hairy, Painted or Giant! You name it we have seen them!
Night Dives are always a winner and it is the same here in Lembeh – Guests regularly sit done to the evening meal and hardly eat as they reel off the weird that come out at night – some of the crabs still make me laugh with their camouflage techniques and a guest favourite is the Bobtail Squid, so cute and small!!
We have had our first Open Water Courses and many people completing the Advanced Open Water or some Adventure Dives. All of students realised the unique place that they had come to learn to dive and really enjoyed the experience!
Lembeh is also a great place to complete PADI Specialty courses as well and the following have completed a mixture of Digital Underwater Photography to Search and Recovery to Enriched Air Diver: Maitri, Luke, Meagan, Dan and James.
We are currently enjoying a couple of quiet days before the summer rush and we are making the most of it, getting in as many fun dives as possible. The last few days have really rewarded us with lots of Frogfish and Flamboyant Cuttlefish action and lots, lots more!
We have found a site where there are 3 Hairy Frogfish (Antennarius striatus) now residing and the one that has been living at Jahir 2 for months is still loving his home! Gizmo managed to get a great shot of one of the newly found Hairy’s yawning at us!!
We (the guests as well) have also enjoyed an up close encounter with one of the largest Giant Frogfish (Antennarius commerson) I have ever seen and most impressively we have discovered another Randall’s Frogfish, which is one of the rarest inhabitants of the Lembeh Straits!
Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) have also been in abundant supply and of many different sizes – ranging from around 8cm down to the a tiny one that was only about 1cm long. We also got this picture of Flamboyant Cuttlefish eggs on the underside of a coconut shell, the female injects them through a hole in the top to protect them from predatory fish! Juvenile Flamboyant’s start to show the normal coloration from birth, so letting any predators know that they are a pretty toxic snack!
Also in the last couple of days other sightings numerous Thorny Seahorses, Zebra crabs, Long Armed Octopus, Wunderpus, Ornate / Robust / Halimeda / Rough Snout Ghost pipefish, Pygmy Seahorses and Pipehorse, Ambon Scorpionfish…I am getting exhausted from just writing the list!!
“Who??,” we hear you cry! Its the lovely Boxer Crab of course!
We found this little guy at a close-by dive site, recently, hiding in some coral rubble extremely shallow. As you can imagine we and our guests were all pretty excited to see him as they are pretty rare and are often hiding under small rocks, so making them even harder to find!! It seems like there was some kind of crustacean party going on – look at the two other little crabs he was hanging around with!!
You will notice it has a distinct colour pattern and enjoys a mutualistic relationship with small anemones, which is carries in its claws. The anemone’s stinging cells protect the boxer crab against predators, in return boxer crab provide food for its protectors. Boxer crabs use at least three different species of anemones, Bundeopsis sp and Triactis producta. The bonding with the anemone is not required for their survival and boxer crabs have been known to live without them and sometimes substituting other organisms such as sponges and corals.
We had already enjoyed a lovely dive before we happened upon the crab on our safety stops ( which went on for about 20 minutes so that everyone could get a good look!) – we had seen Wonderpus, Seahorses and a free-swimming Ribbon eel which is another rarity!
May has come to an end and we have to say if has been an awesome month for diving in Lembeh! The month did start off a little bit rainy and grey but the diving was anything but sad and gloomy – it has been a great month for Frogfish sightings, octopus encounters, cool Nudis, rare Rhinopias…all the lovely Lembeh Critters!!
We ran our first day trip to Bangka Island, which was a great success. The strong currents brought in lots of pelagics for our group – tuna, trevally and large stingrays!
We have also been trying out some new sites in more southern end of The Straits and come up with a couple of gems in particular one near the monument which was is a Mecca for different types of ghost pipefish!
Work has started in earnest on our artificial reef with a couple of structures in place – we are going to check on them tomorrow and see what has moved in!!
Scubi is now fully settled in as our new resort dog and is busy charming all the guests with his cuteness and annoying Chocolate with his boundless energy!
Over the last couple few days in particular our dive guides ( Opo, Franz and Steven & Helen has been moonlighting as a guide!) have been on top form and pleasing our guests with sightings of Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Wonderpus, Mimic & Blue-Ringed Octopus, Pygmy and Pontohi Seahorses, all different kinds of Ghost Pipefish and so many Frogfish - from Warty to Painted and from Giant to Hairy – we literally have seen them all!! It has been hard to log the dives as we are seeing so much on the dives we are forgetting what we have seen and it like a competition at the dinner table who has seen the coolest critters!!
Lets hope that June is just as good!!
After a quite noisy night due to a huge storm that blew over Lembeh Straits last night ( the thunder was so loud it rattled the bungalows!!) everyone got onto the dive boat looking a little bit sleepy this morning!! As we headed away from the resort, the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds and as we arrived at the dive site we were greeted with crystal clear water ( well very clear for Lembeh!!) so we kitted up quickly and back-rolled in!
As we descended down we came across a Gorgonian fan with 6 little pygmy seahorses on it! I was already pretty impressed with the dive! As we continued descending down to around 22m we met Peacock Mantis Shrimps, pipefish, beautiful nudibranchs and a pair of Robust Ghost Pipefish but as we were watching them Opo and Man ( our Two Guides for the morning) shook their rattles to get our attention and after a minute of staring at this tiny frogfish I realized the significance of the find!! We had come across a Randall’s Frogfish, one of the rarest critters we can find here on the Lembeh Strait!
Antennarius randalli are found on sandy or rubble bottoms and maybe hiding in a soft drinks can or beer bottle! They tend to be found alone and their color can vary immensely from white to yellow to brown or black in order to match their surroundings. It can be distinguished from other frogfish species by a series of small white spots on its body and pectoral fins as you can see from the picture on the right.
Thanks so much to Liz Ward for these great photos that really show off the spots and capturing one of the best and most special finds I’ve experienced!!