Mandarin Fish and Mantis Shrimps – Bunaken and Manado Dive Log

In Indonesia by Jaclynn Seah3 Comments

I had heard great things about Manado before this trip – my own sister had visited the place several times and most people rave about it as a macro heaven, full of unusual small creatures that dwell in their sandy bottoms.

We stayed at Cocotinos and spent 4 days diving at the nearby Bunaken island about half an hour’s boat ride off the west coast of Manado, as well as nearby sites off the Manado mainland.

Manado and Bunaken

One of our dive boats


Dive 1/16 (#60)
10th Nov 2012
4.34pm (59 mins)
Manado Mainland – Posi Posi 2

Sandy bottomed site, visibility wasn’t the highest and it got a little dark towards the end of the dive. We did manage to encounter a number of pretty interesting creatures on our first dive, which was definitely a good start.

S and P enjoying the sunset when we surfaced

Lissocarcinus Laevis, or the Harlequin Crab

Juvenile flathead crocodile fish – has a face like a sad puppy

Durban hinge-beak shrimp


Baby frogfish was so teeny!

Chromodis Reticulata Nudibranch

Ghost pipefish being leafy

Poss’s Scorpionfish


Dive 2/16 (#61)

11th Nov 2012
9.37am (60 mins)
Bunaken – Fukui

Day 2 of diving started of fantastic as we came across a huge pod of dolphins en route to Bunaken! There were at least 50 of them in the water, swimming around, behind and under the boat.

A pair of giant clams – if you touch them they twitch

The water was very calm at this site, almost flat and the terrain was sandy with coral. The highlight perhaps was the rather big giant clams that we saw here, but other than that, nothing particularly outstanding in terms of fish – usual schools of fish, nudibranches and a weird stone fish thing that hopped at me.

Spotted boxfish looking like a puffed up drink packet


Dive 3/16 (#62)
11th Nov 2012
12.02pm (49 mins)
Bunaken – Lekuan 1

This was a wall dive – clear blue waters and we saw a total of 3 of turtles on this dive, including a really big one that was resting on a rock. Eventually after it had enough of us taking pictures of it, it swam away.

Lots of sea fans and coral and nudibranches on the wall.

Common sorta nudi – Chromodoris Michaeli

Hypselodoris Bullockii nudi, or the Cinderella nudi – I like that there was a tiny one alongside the large palm sized version

A pair of fire dartfish

Turtle #1

Look at the size of the giant turtle in relation to the size of the diver!

Giant turtle takes its leave

Bye bye giant turtle!



Dive 4/16 (#63)
11th Nov 2012
2.24pm (62 mins)
Manado Mainland – Gabet Point

Hippocampus Pontohi – the pygmy seahorse

This was a sandy bottomed area with pockets of coral scattered around the area. Not that much to see – mostly nudibranches, but we did see quite an unusual pygmy sea horse that swam around. Unlike most pygmy seahorses in seafans that generally stay quite still, this little fella actually swam around a little.

This one is of an unusual colouring. I like the luminous blue-orange combination.

S spotted this little nudibranch. No idea  how she managed to see it against the black surface!

Thought this was some sort of nudi, but it turned out to be something called a partner shrimp. I like the colours of this one! The coral is actually quite interestingly coloured, like peaches (or nipples, depending on your brain)

Found a lone cuttlefish that happily let us take pictures of it quite up close. I like how the colours turned out in my photo


Dive 5/16 (#64)
11th Nov 2012
5.32pm (54 mins)
Manado Mainland – Posi Posi 1

We did a night dive to check out the mandarin fish specifically. From pix you’d imagine they would be larger, but they were really only about the length of your thumb perhaps? We were told not to shine our torches at first as it would scare them away, so we had to rely on the guides and their expertise and timing in showing us the mandarin fish. I managed to see them do a bit of the mating dance but didn’t get any pictures. They can be found in dead coral, and spent most of their time crawling around inside so taking pictures was not easy.

My best picture needed quite a fair bit of zooming in. The colours are so vibrant!

Here’s a blur zoomed out version to give you a sense of scale.

here’s a video from youtube that shows you the mating dance (from around :20)

Didn’t see that much else, though we spotted a giant mantis shrimp hiding in the sand. It didn’t seem like much, but we were warned against getting too close as their giant claws are so strong they can crack camera casing or injure you!

Tip of a giant mantis shrimp

Check out this BBC video that shows you what lies beneath the sand!


  1. Great logs. Indonesia is rich in biodiversity. Consider checking out Raja Ampat in your next trip, the place literally has the highest number of marine species on Earth ever recorded. =)

  2. Hi,

    Great info and log about Manado and Bunaken, I am off to Bunaken for 10 days from 27th Dec. did you have any particular dive to see some schooling fish by any chance?

    Obviously muck dive is always fun, anyway, where was your best dive site?


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