20 – 24 October 2009

Off we went with the tireless Simone Gerritsen of Thalassa Dive Center in Manado to explore  Bunaken and the surrounding islands as well as the under-appreciated mainland Manado. We knew to expect the steep wall dives of Bunaken National Park and the beautiful coral cover of Bunaken’s shallow reefs. Manado Tua beside Bunaken was equally grand.

 

Bunaken National Park's steep drop off to 1000 meters deep!

Bunaken National Park’s steep drop off to 1000 meters deep!

Manado Tua and the reef below the volcano

Manado Tua and the reef below the volcano

Our new Dutch friends Brigitte and Wil investigating a resting Green turtle

Our new Dutch friends Brigitte and Wil investigating a resting Green turtle in Bunaken

What we didn’t expect was how incredible the muck diving was in mainland Manado. A dive site called Popoo made us forget time again and wished we had more air. Two dives here were just not enough! It was too good! But the best part was, we didn’t expect it to be like Lembeh, or even be jokingly called “Bethlehem” – Better Than Lembeh!

Harlequin shrimps on a blue starfish

Harlequin shrimps on a blue starfish

Shaggy, not quite hairy frogfish in hunting position

Shaggy, not quite hairy frogfish in hunting position

Our guide Bob was going berserk in our second Popoo dive when he found a mimic octopus. We spent quality time with the octopus, and when it was swimming away from us in flounder position, the unthinkable happened! Another mimic octopus came out of its hole and grabbed what we now think was the female. She tried to get away but the new ardent lover wouldn’t have any of that, and stayed on top of her for a good 10 minutes or more. It was UNBELIEVABLE!

Mating! Yes MATING mimic octopus!!!!!

Mating! Yes MATING mimic octopus!!!!!