Mandarin Fish and Mantis Shrimps – Bunaken and Manado Dive Log

I usually keep physical dive logs that record where I’ve been, how I dived and what I saw on the dive trip as well, which is arguably the most important thing for me to remember. On this particular dive trip to Manado in November 2012, I ended up with some pretty amazing photos, partly because it’s a well-known macro heaven of weird wonderful creatures, and also because I was diving with a whole bunch of underwater photography enthusiasts and experts so you can’t not level up, even if yours is the dinkiest camera in the bunch!

Bunaken Island Volcano
A peaceful morning looking out to the island of Bunaken with its volcano

We spent about 4 days diving around Bunaken Island and off the west coast of Manado where our dive resort Cocotinos was located. These dive logs come from Days 1 and 2 – you can see the other 2 days in Bunaken/Manado, or check out the awesome macro shots I got in the famous Lembeh Straits.

Manado Mainland – Posi Posi 2

This was a 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 interesting creatures on our check out dive, which was definitely a good way to start this trip.

Manado Diving Harlequin Crab
Harlequin Crab or if you prefer something more scientific, Lissocarcinus Laevis
Manado Diving Juvenile Crocodile Fish
Juvenile Flathead Crocodile Fish – this was tiny! And it looks like a little sad puppy aw
Manado Diving Ghost Pipefish Side
Ghost Pipefish – It’s not a great shot because I had so much problem trying to focus on the fish and not the sand, but it really doesn’t look like a drifting leaf
Manado Diving Durban Shrimp
Durban Hinge-Beak Shrimp – I love the colouring
Manado Diving Scorpionfish
Poss’ Scorpionfish – don’t touch it!
Manado Diving Octopus Seabed
This octopus was pretty well hidden in the sand until we spotted it – it’s trying to slink away here
Manado Diving Baby Black Frogfish
Frog fish – this baby is TINY and so well camouflaged!
Manado Diving Nudibranch Red
Nudibranch – It’s officially known as the Chromodis Reticulata Nudibranch, I just call it the red one
Manado Diving Surface Sunset
Sunset as we surface

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.

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.

Manado Diving Giant Clams
Giant clams!
Manado Diving Boxfish
Spotted Boxfish – I love how it looks like a puffed up drink packet

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.

Manado Diving Nudibranch Light Blue
Chromodoris Michaeli – this is a more commonly seen nudibranch
Manado Diving Nudibranch Cinderella
Hypselodoris Bullockii or a much prettier name for it is the Cinderella nudibranch! This one was pretty big, about palm sized? Can you spot a smaller one a little bit further away?
Manado Diving Turtle Down
Looking down at the turtle
Manado Diving Turtle Big Compare
Not a great picture, but look at the size comparison – this turtle was huge!
Manado Diving Turtle Swim Up

Manado Mainland – Gabet Point

This was a sandy bottomed area with pockets of coral scattered around the area. Mostly nudibranches on this dive, but we did see quite a pygmy sea horse that swam around.

Manado Diving Pygmy Seahorse Yellow
Hippocampus Pontohi – this yellow pygmy seahorse was so twitchy, which is a bit unusual as the other pygmies that i encounter generally stay pretty still and cling on to their plant. This one swam around a bit, which is why I couldn’t get a clear shot (this is its back)
Manado Diving Pygmy Seahorse Yellow JM
This is an example of why expert photographers are experts – this is still my same camera but in the hands of my dive instructor and some setting tweaks, LOOK AT HIS SHOT compared to mine! I left his shot untouched – I had to tweak the lighting/colours on my original shot, but this one has no tweaks to it. Like, I bow to the expert
Manado Diving Nudibranch Orange-Blue
This nudibranch has an unusual colouring – orange with a luminous blue
Manado Diving Partner Shrimp
Partner Shrimp – I thought this was some sort of nudibranch at first, but it turned out to be something called a partner shrimp instead. And I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more distracted by the very booby/nipple-y coral its sitting on
Manado Diving Cuttlefish Solo
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

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.

Manado Diving Mandarin Fish
Pretty colours! This shot is very zoomed in
Manado Diving Mandarin Fish Hiding
This is a picture without any zooming to give you a sense of how these little fish were hidden away

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!

Manado Diving Mantis Shrimp Hidden
Mantis shrimp lying in wait for its prey to show up

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

Want to see more weird animals from Manado? Check out all my Manado posts.

3 thoughts on “Mandarin Fish and Mantis Shrimps – Bunaken and Manado Dive Log”

  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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