May, 2001
October, 2001
The region combining mainly waters of Sulu Sea and Celebes sea and surrounded by Borneo, Sulawesi and Philippines harbours the richest variety of marine species in the world. WWF identified this area as Sulu-Sulawesi marine ecoregion - the global center of marine biodiversity. There are many good dive sites in the region, but in my opinion the two most exciting spots are Sipadan Island (East Borneo) and North Sulawesi (including Lembeh strait and a few islands approachable from Manado). There are a few other dive spots in the world that are more scenic but nowhere else you can find such concentration of various species that are within minutes reach from the same resort.

Manado and Northern islands

My first introduction to North Sulawesi was in year 2000 when I visited Murex resort and dived near Bunaken and Manado Tua islands. These islands have some of the best reef walls I have ever seen. Only Sipadan island of East Borneo can rival such wall diving. However, the latter is quite different. The walls of Bunaken island and Manado Tua are covered with huge sponges and gorgonians that are surrounded by streams of butterfly fish and moorish idols. Manado Tua is home for the coelacanth fish - the "live fossil". I visited Murex again in May 2001 for a liveaboard dive trip on MV Arlena to the nothern islands reaching the famous underwater volcano. It was the most scenic liveaboard trips I have ever had. This included great underwater scenery, volcanic activity underwater and above sea level and rich sea life. Later, I discovered Lembeh strait...
False clown anemonefish
Amphiprion ocellaris
Clarke's anemonefish
Amphiprion clarkii
Spine-cheek anemonefish
Premnas biaculeatus
Black-backed butterflyfish
Chaetodon melannotus
Ovalspot butterflyfish
Chaetodon speculum
Bicolor parrotfish
Cetoscarus bicolor
Snowflake moray
Echidna nebulosa
Coral hawkfish
Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus
Falco hawkfish
Cirrhitichthys falco
Sandperch - Parapercis sp. Latticed sandperch
Parapercis clathrata
Lionfish - Pterois cf. volitans Spotfin lionfish
Pterois antennata
Porcupinefish - Diodon hystrix
Black-saddled toby
Canthigaster valentini
Blacksaddle mimic filefish
Paraluteres prionurus
Fang blenny
Plagiotremus tapeinosoma
Gorgonian sea fan
Echinogorgia sp.
Reef octopus - Octopus cyanea Bobtail squid - Euprymna berryi Chromodoris willani Hermit crab
Aniculus cf. miyakei
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