Do you want to see as many different species in as short a time as possible? Would you like to see rare species and fish that are smaller than three centimeters? Then you must go to Manado on Sulawesi. You´ll be in one of the areas with the widest variety of species in the world, or rather the sea. You can see more fish species in one single dive at Manado than you´ll see in a week in other areas. This fish variety is only a foretaste of an even more spectacular sight.
These are the small treasures of the sea which can only be discovered at second, or even third, glance. Whether it is the wide range of slugs, tubeworms or cowries, or colourful flatworms or rare shrimp; they are all guaranteed to be found in the three dive regions around Manado.
Divers have the choice between the islands around the extinct volcano Manado Tua, the northern Bangka Islands and the Strits of Lembeh in the east.
Visibility in the sea around Manado varies according to the season. An acceptable visibility of 15 m is guaranteed. However, there are also months when visibility is over 40 m. Water temperatures are between 28 and 30°C. The best time to travel is May to October. The coral reefs around Manado are also a paradise for snorkellers.
Many reefs are fringe reefs, stretching up until just below the surface of the water only a few meters off the shore of wonderful islands. Here the snorkellers amongst the aquarium-keepers can observe corals and other creatures in their natural habitat and gather new ideas for their house reef in the living room. For example, it is interesting to see which corals grow on the roof of the reef in full sun and which prefer more shade. Observations of butterfly fish show whethr they are suited to an invertebrate aquarium or not. Only a few species nibble on the sensitive corals. If you look over the edge of the reef you can see shark in the depths playing with large Napoleon wrasse or hunting pelargic mackerel and tuna species. Beautiful formations of soft coral can be found on the steep walls which are typical of Manado. Huge vase sponges, often seen in the Caribbean, rise up in the clear water every few meters.
Coral lovers can find soething unique on the outer reef of Bangka Island: a blue form of the otherwise red organ coral (Tubipora) can be found at a depth of 15 to 25 metres. The journey to the dive site is relatively short: the trip is between 5 and 60 minutes. It is only for the Lembeh Straits that two hours have to be scheduled. But in return this dive site offers something unique: a collection of the strangest creatures in the tropical seas. Anglers, pipemouth cornet fish, rare forms of octopus and mini creatures only a few centimeters long are to be found in this sea channel protected from the open sea. Unfortunately visibility is not very good. However, only minimal visibility is required for these creatures. If requested, the experienced dive guides will show anyone with a keen eye the well-known rare species like the pygmy seahorses.
There are often people who try for over twenty minutes to spot the animals even though the guide has pointed directly at them. Lovers of brackish water are also in their element on Manado, exploring the kindergarten of the sea in the extensive mangrove swamps. Here all the young forms of marine fish are to be found, together with cute mudskippers and fiddler crabs on the surface.
If you are looking for sensations such as whale shark and hammerhead shark, Manado is not the place for you. Manado is a paradise for the small beauties and rare treasures of the ocean! And that is also one of the reasons why the JBL 2001 Research Expedition led to the waters around Manado.