This 4 cm critter can be found on many sites here in Lembeh. They make their fortress from coconut shells that sink down to the sea floor. Many people think they are not that special because they are so easily found. But many times, even the most common critters are fun if you read their story from their moves. Watch how they approach you or run away from you. If you are lucky, you will understand them as they try to communicate with you. Maybe they will cooperate and give you a good pose for you photos. They usually see you before you see them. They hide between the shells until you approach then they move away. They can carry their coconut shells, or in this case sea shells, as far as 22 meters. When they find a safe place, they will hide themselves inside the shells again. Approach them as slow as you can so as not to scare them.

Coconut Octopus PUBLISHED Febr 2016 (1) Coconut Octopus PUBLISHED Febr 2016 (2) Coconut Octopus PUBLISHED Febr 2016 (3) Coconut Octopus PUBLISHED Febr 2016 (4)

The Coral nursery pyramid

The weather has been nice here in Lembeh Strait, with sunny skies and water temperature of 27. We were quiet for a couple days, which gave us more time to plant corals for our nursery here in our own bay. The bay is well protected. We are fortunate to have the best location.  Our dive guides, with the help from our construction worker, have built a coral nursery pyramid. We planted over 100 new corrals yesterday. Now we will watch them as we plant hundreds more.

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Hairy Shrimp PUBLISHED Febr 2016Hairy Shrimp PUBLISHED Febr 2016 (1)

Recently we revisited a few dive sites we had not gone to in a while. We weren’t expecting much as these sites do not normally have interesting critters. Jiri, our guest, had a Lembeh Sea Dragon on his wish list. We went there hoping to find the elusive critter. What a lucky day. We found it. Then, a few kicks away, we found a Broken-back Shrimp – Hippolytidae. They are super tiny (6 mm) with a wispy, bent-back profile and a tail pointed up. This one was dancing about and making its moves. It’s amazing how the guides spot them.

Wait till you get to the next blog …

The Shy Hippocampus Pontohi

Hippocampus Pontohi PUBLISHED Febr 2016 (2)Hippocampus Pontohi PUBLISHED Febr 2016 (1)

 

 

Welcome back!!!

We hope you forgive our long absence from the blog. We promise that from now on we will not fail to keep you posted of the life here at KBR with all the amazing critters stories in Lembeh Strait. So, here we are, bringing you the true love story of the life here in Lembeh strait.

Being the pioneer of the diving in Lembeh gives us many advantages. KBR  had the pleasure of naming most of the first sites in Lembeh. All the sites have stories which we will share in the blog. A second advantages, is being the first one here in the area is being able to use our skill to train all the young people of North Sulawesi for these numbers of years. Haruki Murakami a popular contemporary Japanese writer said “everybody has to start somewhere.” We are proud to be that “somewhere” for the last 23 years.

We do still have many of our older guides, but we have also trained more guides. This allowed our guests to have more guides diving with them during their stay here in Lembeh. These new guides have amazed our guests of how sharp their eyes are.  They have gained very good skill in finding critters, and making sure our guests see what they wished to see. Many of our photographers and journalist, and guests told us that the diving and guides are in the top class. and our guides are, by far, the most competent and attentive dive staff they have ever experienced. We are very proud of each one of them.

Last week, we were heading to Pante Parigi. Pante is the local language for pantai in Indonesia or beach in English. Parigi, is the local language for Sumur in Indonesia or water well in English. Notice we speak 3 different languages now. Pante Parigi is one site with a white sand muck slope going deep combining with the dense coral cover in the shallow where we dove during our safety stop. While we were hunting for the Lembeh Sea Dragon, we found 5 of the free living species of Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus Ponotohi)in one unusual site at 5 meters. This kind of pygmy seahorse was last seen in Tanjung Kubur before they disappeared. The 1 cm, weedy pygmy seahorses were found in two different spots, a few meters apart. They are very photo friendly, but are a shy, rare critter you will not find in many places. Their size is so tiny, it takes a sharp eye to find them. It was a great dive, finding 5 of them so close to each other.

We have more stories to tell … don’t go away …. till then … we will meet you in the next blog

12m deep and descending the slope that we must take a small gorgonian. There lives a pygmi animal! That is a tiny seahorse just a few years ago was not known to us.

My heart pounding, waiting for the meeting. We are a small group, only 3 divers with cameras to take us the memory of so dear creature of the sea. We finally arrived! Other group is already there. I hear a several times –ooooh!

Closely look more….I spend three seconds, like a target Reaches the proper definition, in my retina Appears the shape of the tiny seahorse. 3 more flashes are triggered in an instant. I prepared my camera to frame the seahorse while 3 or 4 more flashes illuminate the gorgonian. I see the tiny seahorse hide Among the branches of gorgonian: shy, scared of much attention as a “superstar”.

I split from the group a few meters. The flashes are like lightning illuminating gorgonian in a storm, the tiny seahorse. After a few minutes, the divers go in search of another goal. Then I walk slowly, breathing calmly. Upon arrival, a cloud of fine sand is in suspension. In the framework of the gorgonian dive guide shows us a point. Just part of the gorgonian differs: the same color, the same texture. The tiny seahorse still there, in the gorgonian by grabbing its tail.

I do not even try to make a picture. I stood there looking at him a few seconds. Is really tiny, perfect camouflaged in the gorgonian. Seems to be a ” pregnant” male. I still watch a few seconds…I’m finally slowly in silence I go…only my bubbles left behind. And I think, maybe tomorrow I take the picture, quietly and without pressure. Quietly, without raising the fine sand without disturbing you.

So, you Have to Know That there are seven pygmy seahorse species. In Lembeh Strait You have the opportunity to see lot of them.

To be a seahorse pymy you must to see:

–A single gill opening on the back of the head, instead of two on the sides.

–Males Their inside trunk, instead of in a pouch on the tail.

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When you dive for the first time in Lembeh strait (also occurs after 100 dives) we see very clearly that there is a high biodiversity. This concept of “biodiversity” is often unclear, perhaps because the scientific language is a bit complicated. The cultural issue is that many people understand that refers to the presence of many different species. This is true but not completely, the ” biodiversity” refers both: to the fact that in a place there are many different species and while there each present a high number of individuals.

To explain this concept in a more clear way we can take the example of a network of underground stations. More diverse is that which has the greatest number of lines (London in UK) as many other network stations to submit few lines and few stations (Valencia in Spain). You can see two pictures of subway lines with opposite diversities.

Now we know biodiversity, is time to ask how it happens. This is the big question! Evolution always exists, because it is simply a mutation, which literally means “change”. Change in genes that are often reflected in morphology, behavior, etc… all the changes in the individual. Natural selection works like a filter survival in which only those who survive are played, and thus increase their genes in the population of a species. When changes are allowed survival ends cause the creation of a new species, increasing the Biodiversity.

Another important aspect is that this can only be understood if we think the evolucion in thousands, millions of years. At that time scale is where a small genetic changes that are repeated and remain will become big differences. There are other aspects that help make it happen: physical isolation of the place, ecosystems variety, or more or less stable envriontment conditions over long periods of time.

Darwin and Wallace explained the theory of evolution long time ago. With modern science has been able to verify the veracity of this. Wallace got his information traveling through the British and Dutch East Indies. He discovered a line between wildlife Australian Asia, call the wallace line. And this leaves the island of Sulawesi and Lombok, and West-North Island Bali, Borneo and the Philippines. One of the geological events that explain this line is the change in the water level of the sea due to periods of glaciation. (you can see a short Video here).

To finish, the Lembeh strait is a place that has always been isolated from the rest, and is in an isolated area where conditions have occurred for life has exploded in variety of creatures that look for ways to survive. Like most litoral ecosystem, species that housing here has been specializing in camouflage, in hiding, in defending themselves with poison.

Last week we were very busy. Full house in KBR. Guests from China, Hong Kong , USA , Korea.

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