Lembeh Strait is one of my all time favorite diving destinations, my 5th visit will be later this year and I’ve no doubt there’ll be a wealth of sightings that I’ve not enjoyed before. Located off the eastern coast of northern Sulawesi the Lembeh Strait is channel of water which separates the island of Lembeh from Sulawesi, no more than a kilometer across in parts it’s home to a staggering diversity of marine life. I remember my first dive at Lembeh well, starting at a site called Nudi Falls we descended into slightly murky water (we had just spent 2 months working on a conservation project in the clear waters of Bunaken) before heading down to around 15 meters and the black sand slopes that make up most of the dive sites found in the area.
At first you start to wonder what all the fuss is about, it’s not exactly pretty – there’s the odd noodle packet floating around (the heavily populated town of Bitung also is found along the Strait), empty coconuts and a kind of hairy seaweed which flops around in the surge. But, providing you have a good guide it won’t be long before creatures start to appear out of the muck. What ensues can only really be described as an underwater treasure hunt, all eyes are out looking for oddly shaped ‘critters’ which over generations have adapted themselves in incredible ways to compete as predator and prey – it’s like God’s science laboratory. For example mimic octopus can take on the form of up to 10 different other species – adapting to form the shape of lion fish with it’s poisonous barbs, a tricky to swallow flounder or hiding like a cunning octopus. Carrier crabs pick up sea urchins and scurry across the black sand with full camouflage whilst frogfish sit on barrel sponges, changing colour to match and then wait for an ambush on an unsuspecting glass fish. It’s all very entertaining and the more diving you do around Lembeh, the more you want to experience.
If you are new to ‘muck diving’ as it’s aptly named, then you should give it a go. North Sulawesi is the ideal destination since you can combine your time between two locations – the reefs or Bunaken National Park and the slopes of Lembeh Strait, it takes just 1.5 hours to pass between the two destinations. For more details visit our North Sulawesi Page.0