North Carolina, USA

LEMBEH – Premier “Muck Diving”
November 23rd, 2018

Do you prefer diving with the Big Animals like shark and whales and the occasional mola mola? Then Lembeh is probably NOT the dive destination for you.

However, if you are you a photographer…or even a “wannabe”…or simply enjoy discovering strange creatures or observing bizarre animal behaviors, then the Lembeh Straits should be at the top of your list!!

My first dive into the waters of Lembeh started out as a disappointment. I had read several reviews raving about all there was to see, but the first thing I saw upon entry was an old rotting tennis shoe sitting in a barren plain of dark sand. This did nothing for my confidence in seeing spectacular new “beasties”. This was followed by discarded tin cans and bottles, along with numerous split coconut shells.

However, it was only a short time later that our guide waved to us, pointing out something. It was a coconut octopus, which had emerged from the sand, along with a clam shell that he had been holding together. He was startled when he saw us, and instead of dodging away in a flash of tentacles, he simply picked up the two halves of his shell in a couple of his “arms”, and loped away on his others. I had a video camera at the time, and spent at least five minutes finning along behind this guy, watching him forage with house in “hand”!

This rest of that dive, and for the next 6 days, we saw one exciting animal after another…mimic octopus, rays with accompanying remoras, nudibranchs, rhinopias, frogfish, mantis shrimp, flamboyant cuttlefish, mating mandarin fish and much more. The advantage of this type of sandy sloping terrain is that you have little worry about knocking into any obstructions while you concentrate on your perfect photo. Now don’t get me wrong…there are some beautiful coral areas as well: vertical walls with flame scallops wedged into the cracks, or giant frogfish perched on a coral branch; as well as small reef patches. But with a group of divers who each want that great shot, it is perfect being able to spread out, each diver photographing their own critter, then rotating to get the next one. There is never a shortage of subjects, you just need to look for where that next one is!

There are numerous land tours that will supplement your experience as well. Beautiful vistas of rice patties, mountain gardens, lakes, national parks, and volcanos to start with. But our favorite land tour was to Tangkoko National Park, where you can see the Crested Black Macaques, Hornbills, etc. You can book a special night tour to see the Tarsius, arguably the world’s smallest primate. It’s worth the effort!

Since that first visit, my sisters and I have returned 3 times, and have never been disappointed!

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