Weird and wonderful critters in Manado Waters

So I’m back from a great week of scuba diving in Manado! It was a great week off where all I had to think about was eating, sleeping, diving, diving and more diving. Manado is a fabulous dive spot, especially those who like underwater photography and love the little weird and wonderful creatures unique to this area that you can’t always find in other areas.

You can find out more in this other post about Cocotinos Manado, the dive resort we stayed at, but first… the diving! The dive centre based in the resort is called Odyssea Divers and they arranged all our dives for us. They were really great, very professional and took good care of us – we always had water, fruits and biscuits between dives, and even had our towels and cups labelled with our names. All my gear was well taken of and the boats we went out on were pretty decent as well.

Manado Odyssea Dive Sites Map
Map of all the dive sites – we would dive both in the Bunaken area and in the straits between Bitung and Lembeh

We dived both in the house reefs off the Manado mainland, at the nearby Bunaken island and on 2 days we drove 1.5 hours over to Bitung on the east coast of Manado where we dived the Lembeh Straits. There was a pretty good mix of diving spots all around:  shallow coral reefs, wall dives and sandy bottoms so we got a good mix of critters both big and small. You probably only want to dive here if you’re a little more advanced as the sandy areas need you to have pretty good buoyancy; if you kick up too much sand, you’ll scare away the creatures and your photos are pretty much a bust because it takes quite awhile for the sand to settle back down.

The waters in general were quite warm averaging around 29 degree celcius – I was quite comfortable in my rashguards and board shorts but there were pretty cold spots underwater occasionally. Generally calm overall too, we had sunny days most of the time and not much strong currents on the surface or underwater.

Manado Odyssea Diving Boat
A welcome sight every time you surface!

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite shots from the trip, though you’ll see more photos and details in the upcoming dive logs.

Manado Diving Surface Sunset
My dive buddies S & P taking pix on the surface as the sun sets on our check out dive
Manado Diving Mandarin Fish
Saw mandarin fish on our night dive! It looks quite sizeable here but in real life? It’s like the size of your thumb. You have to stay very sharp to catch them doing their famous mating dance because they are TINY and really hard to photograph (for me at least!)
Manado Diving Cuttlefish Solo
Swimming cuttlefish just remind me a lot of alien hovercraft with their weird faces and the frilly fin action
Manado Diving Pygmy Seahorse Pregnant
Pygmy seahorse – can you spot its friend hiding nearby! Also another tiny creature that’s about the length of one phalanx (a finger segment!)
Manado Diving Hairy Frogfish
Hairy frogfish – so ugly but so intriguing
Manado Diving Blue Ring Octopus
The elusive blue ring octopus is one of the most poisonous creatures in this world but it’s slightly anticlimatic when you spot it because it’s about the length of your palm. Still, I stayed a fair distance – this picture took some serious cropping and zooming
Manado Diving Coconut Octopus
They call this a coconut octopus because it likes hiding in coconut shells, or basically any crevice or container it can find underwater. Ours tried very hard to pretend it was invisible, but at some point it stuck its limbs out, picked up its shell underneath its body and skittered off. It was hilarious

Our dive guide was PADI instructor James Mamoto, who not only was excellent at spotting tiny critters, he’s also somewhat of a whiz at underwater photography. Seriously, even with my old strobe-less camera, he still managed to coax some great shots out of it! He also gave us all great advice and guidance, and I think it definitely made a big difference in my photos in this trip. Check out his awesome pix. Also great was Mirzad also known as Aba, who had really great eyes for spotting the interesting teeny critters.

Overall I enjoyed my dive experience and am definitely looking forward to coming back some day! There are still lots of critters I haven’t seen yet, like the Rhinopias, Mimic Octopus or the Flamboyant Cuttlefish just to name a few, and I’d love to come back here in future.

Check out all my dive logs and posts from scuba diving in Manado.

2 thoughts on “Weird and wonderful critters in Manado Waters”

    1. Thanks Ellen! Yeah that was pretty cool… the Octopus was acting all ‘YOU CAN’T SEE ME NO YOU CAN’T’ in the clam shell… hilarious!

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