Diving the Celebes Sea, North Sulawesi

Bitung Travel Blog

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Divers waiting to get back onto the boat
Another live aboard, this time the North Sulawesi Aggressor, courtesy of Aggressor, who sent me a voucher for a free week onboard the NSA - I still can't figure out what the deal was, I must have won a draw or something. The flight from Singapore was full of Poles who were a group of 20 divers headed to dive the Bunaken National Park and then head on to Irian Jaya. The boat launched from Bintung off the KBR resort (do not know what KBR stands for). Once again I ate like a King. But unlike the trip to the Cocos Islands, there were only 6 divers on a boat with a capacity for 16. So it was nice to have a room to myself. There were 2 Canadian Obama supporters, another probable Obama fan from Minnesota, pro photographer Tomo-san from Tokyo, an actively fit Brit lady and myself.
I was impressed by the Brit lady who must be in her 60s and does diving, wind surfing, skiing and karate. Wind surfing! My goodness I can barely lift a sail. She told me her days were numbered and that's why she does all that!

This was my first time doing "muck" diving. From what I am told muck diving is scouring the black sandy bottom for critters unique to the area. Critters ranged from colorful nudibranches and slugs to stargazers, and lots of tropical fish (lots of lion fish), most names I still am unsure off but lots of weird critters showed up during the night dives. The biggest mistake I made was not bringing the flash diffuser for my underwater case for my Canon S80. All my flash shots have this black blob in the photos from the barrel of the case.
5 big clams
Anyhow, I got enough video to capture the weird critters of the night. The night dives were more interesting than the day dives. On this trip the wall dives actually didn't interest me as much as the muck diving. I think my favorite critters this time were the pygmy seahorse(size of a small thumbnail, hard to spot hangs out on sea fans), orang utan shrimp?, stargazer and carrier crab. The carrier crab, which, I caught on vid, was carrying a huge coral on top. This critter has character. With my dive light in its face, it would stop and glare and then continue on its merry way. Haha, gave me quite a good laugh. It is difficult to explain all that I saw but believe me, C-O-L-O-R-F-U-L was the word. The night dives showed amazing colors of critters of the night going about their nocturnal foraging on what one sees is a black sandy bottom during the day.
Floating fishing depot
The black sand is from the lava of the area. Definitely a different type of diving which I have not done before. The divers onboard were all seasoned, upward of 660-1500+ dives making me the junior of the lot. The pro Japanaese underwater photographer from Tokyo goes on dives trips, does photography and writes about the resort or live aboard. A DREAM JOB! Anyhow, Tomo-San had more equipment than I could keep track off both onboard and in the water. And the guy never crashed a corel...unlike me with my clumsy photography. I am waiting for some shots he took with his personal camera of the same things I took except mine all have black blobs in them. Tomo-San had the personal camera hanging off the side and snuck a pic in or 2 when he could. Generally he had 2 other big cameras with him.
It was interesting observing a pro go at it, both underwater and on the board. One got to see how pros  
think when it comes to picture composition. I think I got made a model for the upcoming issue of Marine Diving mag. I got asked to pose about everywhere on the boat...haha. Anyway, I have been promised unlimited supply of sushi when I visit Tokyo...except I only eat Cali roll..haha. The most activity I got on this trip was being chased by Nemo (clown fishes) and being bitten by Nemo. In all my diving, I have never seen such feisty little fellas. When approaching to take a photo, the  
big Nemos would start coming at you and chase you around and try to bite you. They are protecting the baby Nemos. I got bitten on the knee and finger.
View from the back of the boat
Even once when there were 2 communities on Nemos side by side. One had the orange guys, the neigbhoring community had the white guys. While attempting to take a photo of the first community, I got bit on my hand. It was the head honcho Nemo from next door. It was rather amusing and I was successful in capturing some vid of Nemo coming at me. Haha. Another strange citing was at a dive site called Fukui Point, where there were 5 large clams in one area. Apparently all 5 brothers have been inseparable in at least 3 years. They were huge, at least 15 inches wide and 10 inches from top to bottom.
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Divers waiting to get back onto th…
Divers waiting to get back onto t…
5 big clams
5 big clams
Floating fishing depot
Floating fishing depot
View from the back of the boat
View from the back of the boat
Stargazer
Stargazer
Carrier crab with a large chunk o…
Not sure what type of fish this is.
I am not sure what type of fish t…
Stargazer trying to bury itself
The 5 big clams at Fukui Point
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photo by: advgal