Bunaken National Marine Park
The Bunaken National Marine Park lies in the bay of Manado, in the north of Sulawesi. It encompasses five islands (Bunaken, Siladen, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain) where you do mostly steep wall diving and here you have a good chance to see pelagic like sharks, mackerels and tunas as well marine turtle. The walls are very nicely covered with corals and have small caves and overhangs.
The Bunaken National Marine Park lies about 30 minutes by boat from Manado. Bunaken Island is the centerpiece of the national park but there is good diving also at Manado (the volcanic island), Siladen, Mantehage and Nain. Sometimes there are also some interesting discoveries, a small seahorse unknown to science, only about 2,5cm large and living on hydroids, which has been named Hippocampus pontohi.
The Park covers a total surface area of 79,056 hectares, 97% of which is ocean. There is an entrance fee (since March 2001- about US $15) that is used for the preservation of the park and in part for the villages on the Islands (controlled by US Aid). Also belonging to the park are coastal areas with small reefs, sea grass beds and Mangroves.
One of the highlights is the school of dolphins or pilot whales that we meet sometimes while crossing the bay of Manado on the way over to Bunaken. The school is distributed over a very large area with whole families resting on the surface. While Snorkeling (Do not make any noise with your fins!), a hug are pilot whale comes up for air several times before disappearing again. The whole time we hear chattering and squeaking from the school communicating around.
There is no continental shelf in the northern part of Sulawesi and reefs drop directly down to 1840 meters!, Depth between the islands are around 200m,between Manado Tua and Mantehage 1360m!, A rare fish has been found here, the Coelacanth (Latimeria Menadoensis) who lives in caves about 100 to 200m depth on these steep underwater slopes. Coelacanth can reach a length of about 2 meters and are so called living fossils.
Living fossils discovered in the mouth of the Chalumna River on the east coast of South Africa and later around the Comoros Island. This is different species than one living around Manado.
Scuba Diving in Lembeh Strait and Bangka Island
Lembeh strait is one of the most interesting marine habitat, a real paradise and a great place to do scuba diving!, there are over 25 dive sites around the Lembeh strait, Most of them are either sandy areas or small reefs. Do not expect spectacular walls or hug reefs, here you are doing called muck diving - searching for the rare and the special (for more good places for muck diving look at secret bay and Padang Bay in Bali, Dauni in Negros, Cabilao in Bohol situated in the Philippine and Mabul in Borneo).
But it’s also good places to see other shy critters such as the mimic octopus, the flamboyant cuttlefish, Harlequin Shrimps, Wonderpus, Skeleton Shrimps and many nudybranchs. The fish at this place are also a collection of weirdoes:
Ambon Scorpion fish (Pteroidichthys amboinensis), Stonefish, Sea robins, stargazers, devil fish and even the weedy scorpion fish (Rhinopias frondosa). There are also beautiful seahorses (at least 7 different species, pygmy and other), the Pegasus, ghost pipe fish and the endemic Banggai cardinal fish.
Although most divers come here for the muck diving, Lembeh has much more to offer. Especially around island there are some small but very beautiful coral reefs and at the northern tip at Batu Kapal, the currents attract large pelagic like mackerels and sharks.
There are also four beautiful covered wrecks, two them large and all within limits for recreational diving. This area is not a national marine park unfortunately. Water temperatures are generally rather cold for the tropics between 24° and 27° C (76°-86° F).The sheltered condition of Lembeh strait makes for year-around diving.
Night Dives in LembehOf course night dives and also special interesting in Lembeh. As soon as night fall noctural critter like crabs, worms, feather stars, cuttlefish and eels appear. Some animals like Scorpion fishes are much more active at night, but also find some ghost pipe fishes and juvenile bat fishes on night dives. Most dive sites in Lembeh strait also for night dives ranges from the Magnificent coral gardens of Bunaken Marine Park and Bangka Strait to the walls of fishes and underwater volcanoes of the Sangihe Islands to the unusual and rarely seen critters of Lembeh Strait.
Perumahan Griya Bumi Asih Blok B No.5 Jl. Raya Sawangan - Kembes - Minahasa - North Sulawesi - INDONESIA