Another fantastic year of diving in the Lembeh Strait comes to an end. A big shout out to all of the staff at NAD and of course all our guests which made 2018 another great year to remember. Most memorable moments for me were when we saw Whaleshark, Rhinopias, Melibe Colemani, Blue-Ringed Octopus, hatching Flamboyant Cuttlefish and Blue-Ringed Octopus Eggs as well as many new critters during Blackwater Night Dives. Bring on 2019 for some more amazing encounters with the critters and creatures of Lembeh!
It’s the season for Ornate Ghost Pipefishes here in Lembeh! This exotic looking fish hovers head down and can usually be found in pairs or smaller groups. Most of the time Ornate Ghost Pipefishes live right next to crinoids, feather stars or soft corals. Colors can vary from black, red, yellow to white.
The Wonderpus or Wunderpus photogenicus is one of the most photographed subjects in Lembeh. That is of course, if you can find it! Being a crepuscular hunter (active during twilight), the Wonderpus typically hides in a hole in the sand during day-time. Also, the Wonderpus is often confused with a similarly looking cephalopod, the Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus). We will look into both species and point out some differences, which will help you distinguish between the two!
Certainly one of the weirdest critters and alien-looking creatures, is the Idiomysis or Opossum Shrimp. They only reach a few millimeters in length but yet I’m sure that every diver checking the sand or reef has seen them before. Idiomysis usually come in groups of 5 up to maybe 20 individuals and look a little like “flies” but underwater.
It’s quite common to see nudibranchs feeding on each other. As it turns out, sea slugs are their own worst enemy! This short video of a Gymnodoris swallowing a Ceratosoma nudibranch may change your perception of these colorful, “cute”, little creatures!
It’s one of the signature critters of the Lembeh Strait: The Hairy Frogfish. Colors can highly vary to match their environment. Therefore, we have had Hairy Frogfish in all different shades of brown, orange, yellow, white and black. Best dive sites to spot them at the moment in various sizes are Rojos, Kareko Batu and Aer Bajo.
It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever watched underwater, seeing these 1cm small creatures changing colors and breaking through the eggs. It looked like a bit of a struggle for some of them, but eventually most of the little Flamboyant Cuttlefish hatched during the 20 min. I was watching them.
I’ve only recently started enjoying taking pictures of gobies. There’s around 500 different species only in the Indo-Pacific region but one of my favorites is the Magnificent Shrimp Goby. With its beautiful dorsal fin, almost like a sail, and the beautiful pattern on it, it’s very photogenic. The shrimp goby usually shares a burrow with, turns out to be quite pretty too: Randall’s Pistol Shrimp are brightly colored in red, white and yellow.
Although April is still considered our low season here in Lembeh, we can’t tell by the amount of critters and especially Frogfish we’ve been spotting lately. Several Hairy Frogfish on a few different dive sites, Giant Frogfish in all kinds of colors and a whole portfolio of both Warty and Painted Frogfish in varying sizes have been seen.
We’ve been spotting several Blue-Ringed Octopuses in the last week and to top it off, I’ve found a couple mating yesterday. Not sure if mating is seasonal since I couldn’t find any reliable information anywhere – the last pair I’ve seen was in October last year, which makes me think that Blue-Ringed mate all year round.