Indonesia 2012

Lembeh Strait og Raja Ampat - 3. okt. til 30. okt. 2012

I have in the last 13 years been visiting many of the tropical divesites, so I'm often being asked which one is the best. You can answer that in many ways depending on preferences - warm or cold, wrecks or corals, near and cheap or far away and expensive. Before I answered for and against, but now I have made up my mind:
The Coral Triangle as outlined on the map.

I read about Raja Ampat in a magazine, but considered it too unattainable.
But inquiering my divepusher..."Kingfish"...they were able to deliver the trip, and I were an easy target. Then Anette and I agreed in making the grand tour for both.
We desided on 10 days in Lembeh Strait, 14 days in Raja Ampat and 2 days in Singapore - with traveltime 1 month.

Sulawesi is the big island situated between Borneo and New Guinea, south of The Philippines.
Lembeh Strait is between the northern tip of Sulawesi and the little island Lembeh just east of it.

Raja Ampat is the archipelago lying off the westen tip of New Guinea.
The wonderful place we selected was:

Lembeh Strait at...

Lembeh Strait is known for "muckdiving", notice the surroundings on photos and videos - the bottom is black lava sand.
But in these conditions are the most weird but wonderful creatures living - and these are the purpose for our visit.

First 4 members of the family Syngnathidae.

Video with seahorses.

Spiny Seahorse.


Robust Ghostpipefish.

Ornate Ghostpipefish.

Baby Cuttlefish.

Here are some exemples of cuttlefishes and octopuses.
The Coconut Octopus can enclose itself between coconut shells or seashells - and even run away so protected.
The Mimic Octopus does not camuflage itself, but imitate other animals.

See a video here.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish. Waddling slowly about on the bottom.

Papuan Cuttlefish.

Broadclub Cuttlefish.

Broadclub Cuttlefish.

Coconut Octopus.

Mimic Octopus.

Anglerfishes have a stunning ability to camuflage themselves - the yellow one though a little "off side".

Giant Frogfish.

Painted Frogfish.

Painted Frogfish.

Painted Frogfish.

Now some ugly yet beautiful ones - the big family of poisonous scorpionfishes.

Video with various scorpionfishes.

Spiny Devilfish.

Lacy Scorpionfish.

Devil Scorpionfish.

Ambon Scorpionfish.

Raggy Scorpionfish.

Shortfin Lionfish.

Estuarine Stonefish.

Cockatoo Waspfish.

Mantis Shrimp.
Decapodes - the 10-legged crustaceans.

A little video with some jumping shrimps and a Mantis Shrimp.

Harlequin Shrimp.

Emperor Shrimp.

Clown Anemone Shrimp.

Fetherstar Shrimp.

Coral Shrimp.

Squat Lobster.

Hairy Crab.

Orangutan Crab.

Spider Crab.

Spider Crab.

...and now some strange fishes.

Plus a video of...seasnakes and a moray eel.

Flying Gurnard.

Snake Eel....buried in the sand in the daytime.

Raja Ampat

A love story

Raja Ampat is an archipelago consisting of 4 big islands and a myriad of little ones.
The island we chose is called Pulau Pef, and the photo - taken a couple of years ago - shows it in all its splendour and virginity.
Then came some swiss people, and with taste and respectful courtesy they built the worlds most beautiful and well managed divecenter.
In the bay here in front, they built 6 bungalows, a restaurant, a jetty and the administrative buildings, using local workers, local materials, local style - but in swiss quality.
Everything is so 100% luxuriously charming, but confirm my words by following the link in the table header.

...and now this is the view at arrival.

They are called The Sunset Bungalows, because this is the view - while we enjoy our Gin and Tonic... (;o)

The cordial welcome.

Every saturday when the new guests arrive, they are welcomed with a festive and enthusiastic orchestra.
The guests, the whole staff - and they are many - are on the jetty, singing and dancing.

Here below the 2 swiss super-divemasters Armin og Sabine, the balinese administrator Ami and the house orchestra.
...But see the video here....

And coming ashore you'll meet all the orchids.

Grammatophyllum papuanum.
Outside the reception.

Spathoglottis papuana.
Between the bungalows.

Dendrobium antennatum.

Grammatophyllum papuanum. Just outside the bungalow.

Dendrobium antennatum. Beside the entrance of our bungalow.

Dendrobium mirbelianum. Outside another house.

Eulophia graminea. (Grass leafed orchid)

...and now let's dive!.

All the beautiful nudibranchs I photographed are collected under:

Flatworms and Nudibranchs.

But here in advance some nice pictures of 2 nudibranchs to the left and a flatworm "grazing" on tunicates.

Nembrotha lineolata.

Can somebody tell me the name of this little beauty?...Please!

Pseudoceros lindae.

The reefs are totally healthy and untouched.

Tunicates, sponges and soft corals.

The anemonefishes are collected under...Anemonefish ...but a little

Clown Anemonefish.

Saddleback Anemonefish.

The Syngnathiformes- Seahorses and Pipefishes.

Hippocampus barbaganti.
It has become something of a "holy grail" to find and photograph the pygmy seahorses.
There are several species, but here are 2 of them.
H.barbaganti was first described in 1970, but after year 2000 6-7 more have been found. H. denise is described in 2003.
They are extremely difficult to find - only
1-2 cm "long" - and camouflaged so that they look like the gorgonian they sit upon.

Hippocampus denise.

Brownbanded Pipefish.

Whitefaced Pipefish.

Raja Epaulette Shark. Hemiscyllium freicineti.

The sharks.

I did'nt see any big sharks, but there were many Wobbegongs
- it's also one of the shark species.
Normally it's lying in a cave waiting for a fish coming by - then it jumps up and can swallow a rather large prey.
Twice I saw one out swimming in the open, but my new fucking Sealife camera let me down again - well another time (:o(

There are several species of Bamboo Sharks, this one is local called Raja Epaulette Shark, it stayed totally calm under the photographic seance.

If you want to see supervideos of schooling superbig sharks, then go to my trips to Cuba, Africa or Sharkschool in Egypt.

Here I can only offer you a short statement from a...Whitetip

Wobbegong head...

...and tail.


The best video I made, was from that day we visited a
Manta-cleaning station south of the island Gam.

Not much to say but:

Let yourself be fascinated by...The gentle giants.

The daily trips to the reefs.

Every morning we sailed out to the planned 2 reefs - 2 dives with an hour in between - and then back to lunch.
In the afternoon 1 dive and an optional nightdive.

The boats

There are a lot of more or less inhabited islands, and in the pause we rested on one of the beaches.
It was quite simply wonderful, the sand was coral sand
-fine as flour and almost completely white - and the water turquoise.

Sometimes we also visited some of the inhabited islands,
and they were actually really neat.

The Decapodes again.

Porcelain Crab.

Red Reef Lobster.

Feather Star Shrimp. Periclimenes amboinensis.

Bubblecoral Shrimp. Periclimenes tosaensis.

Who says Sea Stars are ugly?.

Fromia monilis Seastar.

Fromia nodosa Seastar.

Horned Seastar.
Notice the little shrimp on the arm to the right.
It's called Periclimenes soror, is 1 cm long and living with the Seastar.

Pincushion Seastar.

There was, of course, all the usual fishes, which I have described in previous trips,
but this time I have payed them less attension. Here, however, just a few interesting ones...and a

video af schooling fish.

Crab Eyed Goby. They swim jerky, as if they jump...
....and along with the eye patches, they might look like some big crabs. Look for yourself.

Ribbon Eel. One of the Moray family...
...a small head but a meter long ribbon-shaped body.
Video with Ribbon Eels.

Bearded Scorpionfish..
On a salver - but still well camouflaged.

Bearded Scorpionfish.
They adapt their camouflage after the surroundings - can you find it?

On the way out to Pulau Pef and now again on the way back from Paradise, you will pass through "The Channel"
- a passage between some islands north of Pulau Gam.

The tearful farewell.

Yours sincerely/Freundliche grüsse...Anette and Henning.

I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I have now been on quite a number of dive sites around the world, and after 650 dives I dare say:

You will not find a better divecenter than...Raja4Divers.

At the departure every friday the whole caring staff - and the remaining guests - will perform a farewell party to remember.
I felt really genuine joy in their song and dance

But judge for

...and now for something completely different!

On our way back, we stayed 2 days in Singapore.
What a wonderful world of differencies!

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