Battle of the House Reefs – Part 3
The final Blog in the “Battle of The House Reefs” is here, Battle of the House Reefs – Part 3! Bring it on Lembeh Resort! This is the last in our series and so far our Blogger has dived both Murex Bangka Resort House Reef and Murex Manado Resort House Reef and it is a closely contested competition. What will Lembeh bring to the table? Which House Reef will reign supreme? Let’s find out……
Lembeh Resort House Reef
Max depth of dive: 13 meters
Max depth of site: 25 meters
Tide: Dived at high tide Visibility: 10 meters
Current: None Temperature: 27.1 degrees
Entry is off the small beach at the front of the resort where the boats are moored. I waded out until I could put my fins on and then snorkelled half way out to the main mooring buoy which is visible from the surface. I descended into about 2.5 meters of water and continued to the buoy underwater. From the buoy onwards I decided to follow the marker posts that have been placed for direction – they basically took my out beyond the buoy and then over to the left side of the bay. I decided to turn the dive at 40 minutes / 100 bar as there was no current. Following the markers was easy – the visibility was around 10 meters but in most places I could see the next marker in front of me and the one after it in the distance. In places where I couldn’t see a marker I could make a mental note of another feature and used this on the way back. The start of the dive was a black sand reef top which then starts to slope very gently down to some bio-rock and fish block structures. The structures are worth investigating and I found common, twin spot and zebra lion fish all on the same one. As I prepared to take a picture I looked down and there were a group of five orange spotted pipefish around the base of the structure. I started to move on to the next marker but again I was distracted by an anemone over to my left – Banggai cardinal fish!
Always one of my favourites for photographs. As I headed to the next marker I saw the reef slope proper on my right and another anemone – I investigated it and found eight squat (sexy) shrimps around the edges of it and a spotted porcelain crab hiding inside. Continuing along the side of the slope a peacock mantis shrimp crossed my path but didn’t hang around. There are numerous coral formations and rocks along the way and some huge bubble coral formations – I was pleased to see several bubble coral shrimps occupying them. Moving on to the next marker were a cluster of anemones and given my success so far with them I took a look and found commensal shrimps and sarasvati anemone shrimps.
I checked my dive time and was surprised that 40 minutes had flown by, I decided to turn the dive and as I did so I caught sight of a blue spotted ribbon tail ray hiding under a ledge. I couldn’t believe it – I hadn’t reached any deeper than 13 meters but there was just such a host of critters to photograph I didn’t have time to get further, or deeper. Heading back I followed the same route but stayed around 3 meters shallower so I could explore a different area without going off course. Within a couple of minutes I struck gold – a redline flabellina nudibranch perched on top of a sea squirt “rearing” up – I spent a few minutes trying to get a decent shot – it had amazing colours. I realised that to meet my 60 minute deadline I would need to keep finning but again I had to stop when I found a broad club cuttlefish next to one of the fish blocks – around just 6cm’s in size and hovering around some sponges. I managed to get my shot and then I headed back – following the route was easy and I was back under the main buoy in the bay in no time (plus along the way I also spotted phyllidia, chromodoris and nembrotha nudibranch). I wished I had explored a little deeper on this dive to see the frogfish but there was so much going on in the shallows I just didn’t get the chance!
A fantastic dive with so many critters in the shallows that you do not need to go deeper, visibility is typically low but for macro photography this is not an issue and I had no problem with backscatter on my images. If you want to see what diving in Lembeh is all about this is a fantastic introduction or indeed a wonderful photography dive for those who would rather dive on their own schedule than go with the boats.
Top Tips for House Reef Diving (applies to all resorts)
– Check with the dive staff first for the best time to dive the House Reef on that day. Lembeh and Manado are usually diveable at any time with better visibility at high tide. Bangka is generally better on a low tide when the currents are weakest.
– Make sure you tell someone you are going for your dive and how long you will be diving for – safety first!
– All three dives require entry and exit where boats come in and out – listen out for boats and surface carefully or better still, under a safety sausage / SMB.
– I made these dives unguided (the exception being Manado) – with a guide you will undoubtedly see more!
– Why not dive the House Reef during the day to get a feel for it and then ask your dive guide to take you for a night dive there? It is really nice to see a site in daylight and then recognise the changes when you dive it again at night.
So which House Reef is the winner after this Battle of the House Reefs – Part 3? Too difficult to answer – they all have different appeals, for me personally I would rate them as follows:
Award for the Best Coral – Bangka
Award for the Best Muck – Lembeh
Award for Best Variety (and one I want to most dive again) – Manado
I think that technically that means for me that Manado won me over but what I will say is that each House Reef is a realistic representation of the diving in that area – they are all easy dives (especially if timed right) and I could quite happily dive at all 3 resorts without the use of a boat ever again!!
Why not try some House Reef Diving yourself and let us know what YOU think!!