View Full Version : HD Scuba Video, Bangka Island, Sulawesi at Mimpi Indah Resort

The Publisher
09-27-2007, 06:27 AM
An Opportunity of a Lifetime Comes

We’ve heard of the famed North Sulawesi area and the renowned Lembeh Straits, and when we were offered an opportunity to visit and review a new resort in the area, and one owned and managed by one of our very own ScubaMagazine.net Forum members, we jumped at the chance!

Within the North Sulawesi area of the Indonesia Archipelago sits the series of small islands off Manado that form the Bunaken Marine Park to the west, and to the north, Gangga and Bangka Island, and just to the south of Bangka, the Lembeh Straits.

The Straits are an area that some geoscientists hypothesize were two different, far apart land masses and commensurate biospheres that came together as a result of plate shifting. This mixing of two different marine biospheres is thought to have created a mix of some of the most bizarre macro marine life to be found, and between Bangka and Lembeh Island, Mimpi Indah Resort and Refly, our Indonesian dive guide, we were going to find it, then video it in HD!

Our Long Journey Begins

We left LAX, the airport that advertises itself as “World Class”. This is the airport and city that spent millions of dollars on glass and steel internally illuminated “art” towers right by the freeway that are not observation towers, they just sit there, but they can’t seem to keep the airport bathrooms clean.

For our air transportation we chose Singapore Airlines (http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/index.jsp) for this trip. Singapore Air is a well regarded airline that has an excellent safety reputation and a competitive airfare price to the capital city of Manado on the island of Sulawesi.

Singapore Air has good food in economy class, and their hot, wet wash towels they hand out just after takeoff, and just before each meal is something every airline should copy.

Although Singapore Air has flights with less stops and shorter stopovers, the economy fare has two interim destinations we wanted to visit, one was Tokyo’s Narita area in Japan, and one in Singapore. Between the food in Tokyo and the opportunity to visit Singapore and financially support a government that canes graffiti vandals including one particular American, it was a dual opportunity we couldn’t pass up!

Soup for the Soul, & a Car Wash for the Posterior

Our first stopover was in Tokyo at Narita Airport (http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/) in Japan. This is a huge, sprawling modern airport that has a mall within it of sorts. Every tasty Japanese food item imaginable was there which we sure appreciated.

The first item of business upon arrival at Narita was a stop in the restroom, as we’ve heard interesting stories. Although they had some larger communal bathrooms, we stumbled upon and became intrigued by a private large bathroom with a red and green open and close button that opened a sliding door. There were fixtures, appurtenances and things in that room that I didn’t know existed, and to this date I still don’t know what many were for, but one can never be too clean and hygienic, I had to at least check out half of them!

With the highest quality, most comfortable buns gasket paper material ever, there is a Toto brand toilet and toilet seat that can best be described as an automated car wash for your rear end. On a flat panel pushbutton wall mounted control, there was a button for directing warm water, a position button for that spray, and water pressure intensity adjustment, and a temperature adjustment. After that, just like using a very warm air drier for your hands, another button does that for your backside. I am not sure what the peculiar pathos is about Americans, bidets and dry paper, but this car wash for the posterior thing is THE way to go.

Take a look at the spotless clean facilities photos below, and see if you can figure out what half of the fixtures are for in the first photo.


The next important order of business after a 14 hour flight was a hot shower, and Japan’s Narita didn’t disappoint. For about the equivalent of $5, there is a facility right within the airport that will take your carry-on, give you a towel, a washcloth, a locker key, and a hair blow dryer if needed. Then off you go to a private large cubicle where you can undress, put your clothes in a locker, get out your clean clothes, and press a button on the large stall shower and it the entire shower enclosure will wash and sanitize itself. With the green light coming on within a minute, I was basking in a well-deserved, hot, invigorating shower.

With the spring back in my step courtesy of the bathroom, the shower and clean clothes, it was time to sample some Japanese food.

There are probably over 30 restaurants and food establishments in Narita airport. Many of the restaurants had window displays with those really curious plastic food items that look extremely realistic. It made it hard to select just one item, they all looked so good, all I had to do was say the dish number in English, and the next thing I knew, I had some delicious sashimi and an udon soup with the 2nd largest shrimp in it I’ve ever had short of the Philippines.

Browsing around the airport I found Internet terminals for about 25 cents a minute, as well as plenty of large flat panel TV to watch.

Off to Singapore

Our next journey leg was to Singapore’s Changi Airport (http://www.changiairport.com/changi/en/index.html). Upon arrival, it was off to the transit hotel for another shower, and change of clothes. The transit hotel is about $18 for 6 hours and well worth it.

After getting cleaned up, I decided to breeze through customs and go take a taxi ride about the seaside port. Wow, what a clean city! I didn’t see graffiti vandalism anywhere!

Some of you readers might remember when a particular 18 year old American named Michael Fay pleaded guilty to vandalizing cars in Singapore. He was sentenced to 4 months in jail, a $2200 fine, and to be caned 6 times.

In the U.S., where graffiti vandals are all but beatified if they vandalize other’s properties, and in some cases given scholarships to college, Singapore has it right. They whip the daylights out of graffiti vandals. Funny how then President and criminal mollycoddler Clinton was arguing that Fay’s punishment was too severe (compared to a congratulatory art scholarship), yet the main body of Americana not only was in opposition to Clinton’s position, we instead supported Singapore’s action, we wanted him given more than 6 lashes, and we prayed that we could send our convicted graffiti vandals to Singapore for their punishment.

After a nice hour long car tour of the Changi port area, it was back the airport. Changi has a large stream garden area seen below for relaxing or doing free WiFi laptop browsing, and has over 20 individual laptop and free Internet terminals distributed about. All access was high speed, so for you e-mail and Internet addicts, your fix is always just a few steps away.

There was a large lounge area with a huge flat panel display, and next to it were the above photo's two X-Box video games hooked up to two large flat panel TV’s. I couldn’t resist handing it off to the below little boy to see his eyes light up. Fear, not, philanthropists, there are 10 more X-Boxes upstairs with a whole host of games.


After having some tasty and healthy Singapore seafood soup, it was back to the Transit Hotel for a hot communal shower, some sleep, then next a.m., off to the next leg of our journey.

Almost There!

About 4 hours after departure from Singapore, we arrived in Sulawesi at Manado Airport. We were greeted by an airport staffer that informed us that one of my checked in bags had not arrived on the plane we were on, but Singapore Air had it, so at least it was not lost.

Now if it were LAX, I would have sat staring at a luggage carousel over an hour, then once I realized they once again lost the bag, after tracking down a cheerful staffer on break from reality, they would have gladly brushed me off with a disingenuous, unsubstantiated script, or offered to allow me to fill out a claim form. Forget about finding your bar code labeled baggage, as long as you get to fill out a form!

Singapore Air’s rep said they’d have the bag the next day, and coordinated to get it to me, and they followed through as promised. Major bungle though by not transferring a bag in 8 hours from the plane we were on to the new plane sitting right next to it.

After that slight hiccup, at the Manado Airport I was greeted by a smiling woman holding a yellow and green Mimpi Indah beautifully hand painted sign, and who introduced herself as Ulva, the co-owner of Mimpi Indah Resort, and Refly, who would be our dive guide for the next week, and the rest of the staffers. Considering we were the only guests at that arrival time, it was rather special that they rolled out the red carpet. What a nice personal touch!

Luck would have it the bags that did arrive contained my entire HD video rig, so we’d be able to shoot the first day.

It was allegedly a 1 hour drive by car provided by Mimpi Indah Resort to get to the port where our bangka waited, but it seemed like 30 minutes. It is a very entertaining ride. From passing villages with small pigs wandering the front yards, to seeing kids playing about, it seemed a short ride.

We arrived at a tiny village on a black volcanic sand beach. There was Totohe, Mimpi Indah's really clean, large fast dive boat. Staffers loaded all our gear and some fresh food provisions, we didn’t have to load anything ourselves. In the shallows were a naked young girl and boy frolicking about in the water, carefree and sporting the biggest smiles and loudest giggles. Oh, those were the worry free days!


Off to Bangka Island

Bangka Island is about a 20-30 minute scenic boat ride north of our bay departure point. We passed many traditional homemade fishing platforms where fishermen spend the night with lights and fishing line singly catching fish. Flying fish skimmed about as dolphins cavorted in the distance.

As we approached Bangka Island, the outline of the coral sand shore and the grounds of Mimpi Indah resort appeared below as sweeping vista between two volcanic points spread afar.


Welcome to Mimpi Indah Resort!

Since Mimpi Indah is a brand new resort, naturally we’re curious as to how it came to be. Multi-National Conglomerate? Multi-location franchise? Millionaire practicing their hobby? We all want to know how two people from two different cultures came to become business partners, friends, and husband and wife living a shared dream.

Owen was born and raised in the Netherlands and after a Masters in Computer Science, started working in the big wide world of IT. At that time he already new that someday he would be working in another country-“preferably warmer” he stated.

While working for several IT companies with projects throughout Europe, he became more and more involved with diving in his spare time.

“Eventually I decided to work my way up to dive instructor and leave the Netherlands to start a dive center.” says Owen. In 2004 he became a scuba instructor and in the plane back to the Netherlands I told a friend that he predicted he would leave the Netherlands within the next year.

Ulva studied English Literature and during her studies became involved in humanitarian work. After her studies she continued working for humanitarian aid companies, like Unicef. She was always part of the “first response team” and was one of the first people to go to Aceh after the Tsunami. She was the logistics manager there.

Ulva also had this big dream of once starting her own dive company in a beautiful place and dive whenever work allowed her. In May 2005 she decided to stop her work and start with a DiveMaster course and at the same time look for a suitable place to start a dive resort.

When Ulva just started her DM course, Owen went to Manado for a dive holiday and at the same time looked for a place to start a dive resort. On the first day of Owen's holiday the two met and started talking. “During those first few weeks we started to know each other and found out we liked each other and shared the same dream of starting a dive resort.” states Owen.

“In January 2006 Owen moved to Indonesia and together we started to realize our dream.” Says Ulva. This involved setting up a company, buying a piece of land after getting the blessing from the local village and then building the resort. It took them until October of 2006 to clear the land, build a dive center, a restaurant and several bungalows. On the first of October of 2006 they officially opened Mimpi Indah resort, which is Indonesian for “Beautiful Dreams” resort.

“To complete our personal dream we got married on our own resort and now we give others to opportunity to get married at our place as well.” according to Ulva. Just look at their website for some pictures of the wedding. Owen added; “We can arrange any style wedding, traditional or western and below above or below water!”

They agree they were lucky to find a great location on a beautiful island right on the beach which is surrounded with some of the worlds best diving spots. “We realize this every day and take the time to enjoy this. We also believe that we have to share our good fortune with others, so everybody is welcome in our resort.” says the Taps.

The Dugong at Mimpi Indah

“We started our company and had no idea about a logo.” says the Taps. They discussed several options but most were just too complicated. “Then one day we went diving and a dugong came to us and stayed with us for maybe half an hour. Since this happened right in front of our resort, we saw this as a sign and took the dugong as our logo. We have since seen the dugong regularly during our dives and it usually comes really close, it almost feels like it's saying hello to us!" said Ulva.

"Since our first encounter Ulva and I have become dugong lovers and are now investigating how we can help the dugong survive. It's number is dwindling and protection of this graceful friendly animal is desperately needed!” according to Owen.

Getting Settled In

After all the gear and luggage was taken to our private bungalow, we had a chance to walk around the sprawling grounds in the late afternoon.

The dining area, the dive shop, the resort grounds, restrooms, and all the really clean bungalows are made of elevated wood structures made from local palm tree wood for the flooring, and bamboo and for the visible components of the structures along with wall surfaces and roof framing. The traditional roofs are covered in palm leaves which work just like shingles, but don’t pollute the environment. Just like duck feathers or roof shingles, these roofs shed water and the entire bungalow was bone dry after a heavy but brief cool evening shower.

I found the whole idea of using rapidly growing bamboo and the manner in which sustainable resources were utilized both responsible and very interesting, and a book they had on bamboo structure engineering was fascinating. The resort furniture is all made from bamboo and split vine material with the usual cloth padding for comfort. In fact some of the other resorts in the Manado area have requested Mimpi local artisans to build their bamboo furniture for them too.

One particular structure that was in the back grounds area of the resort was a rather tall structure. Mimpi Indah built this to be their bamboo treatment facility.


“All bamboo used in structures must be treated first in our bamboo treatment facility. We start by taking long metal rods and we puncture down the center of each segment cell in the bamboo pole with the exception of the bottom. Then it is treated with a liquid compound of borax and borix, two types of salt, which cures and preserves the bamboo” says Ulva.

Below is a photo of the treatment facility. After the cell diver perforations are made, and the bamboo is filled with natural compound liquid, it remains upright for several weeks during he curing process. Once treated, local artisans begin the building process.

Bamboo destined to become wind or light shades or wall covering is split extremely thin with a ring blade tool with different numbers of cross-secting blades, depending on the desired strip thickness.

As we can see below, the thin strips are laid out and using fishing string, neatly tied into a flexible roll down window covering.


Locals harvest the many cashew trees for cashew pods, lay them out in the sun to dry, then off to the wholesalers they haul them where they are husked to get to the kernels we all know. When I shot the below photo, I had no idea what they were. What a city slicker I am!

Continued Below

The Publisher
09-27-2007, 06:27 AM
Off I went to the dive shop, where I noted a room for training with lots of dive related books, magazines, and novels for those that like to relax with a good book. Next to that is the equipment and dive gear room, then the compressor room.

Mimpi Indah has the ability to blend up to 40% nitrox, and all fills up to 32% are free, and for us rebreather types, they can decant un-boosted pure 02 that I tested out to 100%. They also have one set of 3 liter 02 and diluent Inspiration cylinders we left with them for future guest CCR use.

Since it was late in the afternoon I decided to walk around the surrounding grounds and go explore.

Behind the Mimpi Indah grounds off to the west is a trail through what was more or less a tropical jungle. After 50 or so meters I came across shallows with tidal mudflats bordered by mangroves at the waters edge that stretched from the rocky point as shown below left to the northwest shown as the below image #2.

The mangrove shallows were just teeming with mudskippers. These little amphibious guys can breathe out of water, and there were at least a hundred or so within each 10 square meters. It was really interesting trying to photograph them, as they are rather wiley. Juvenile needlefish as shown below right were also everywhere, and even more furtive then the mudskippers.


Digressing, adjacent mangroves are the prime recipe for a healthy reef eco system, as it is perfect breeding grounds for juvenile fish not yet ready for the strong currents and predators.

We noted in the leisure hike that everything was just as lush as can be, there were plants growing on plants, strange white butterflies, and unfamiliar animal noises that a 1st time visitor could not differentiate between a bird or, mammal or a or lizard.

As evening approached it was time to get cleaned up in the bungalow. This too is an all bamboo and palm wood structure that was the cleanest accommodation we have stayed in.

The bathroom and shower area had an opaque roof that let quite a bit of light in which was nice, and the lavatory sink and mirror were modern, contemporary European models.

The semi open style shower in the bathroom area was plenty large enough for two which was a nice touch.

After getting cleaned and changed, it was off to dinner. This is just a short 3 minute walk along a white coral sand path. This leads to a bamboo walking bridge that descends down to the dining area as seen below. This was a really relaxing, tranquil experience where we hung out and relaxed while exchanged tall dive tales after feasting on tasty dishes like he fresh caught tuna below.


Guests can either arrive at a specified meal time, or they will ring a bell to let you know when it is meal time, or if you are a sound sleeper you can request they send a staff to come knock on your door which is nice.

The whole grounds are really quiet, and the private beach is the perfect place for a moonlit stroll. What I personally got much amusement from was the walking path with its adjacent wild short grass. At one point I observed what looked like a reflection from the small kerosene path lamps glistening on moist plants, but upon closer inspection, the light source was moving. Sure enough, it was a firefly, something we don’t have on the west coast of the U.S.

Every evening as I walked to and from the bungalow I was on firefly watch, till I realized they liked to hang out up above, then I spotted dozens every walk. Cool!

Back to the bungalow for the evening, and one can either open all the windows and let the typically breezing northerly winds in, or there is a huge lounge couch on the porch, and this made for a really peaceful, quiet sound sleep. Nothing like silence but sounds of the wind in the trees, the occasional wave noise, and a comical gecko chirp or two to give you the rest you need for diving the next day.

Let’s Go Diving!

After breakfast around 8 am or so, next it was getting all the gear ready for the days diving. The dive boat staff from left to right was Refly the senior dive guide, Victor the junior dive guide, Jimmy the assistant resort manager, and Bobby the Totohe Captain. The Mimpi Indah dive boat staff was always ready to go before everyone else, so the below photo of the guys relaxing on the deck of the dive shop was a common site.


Mimpi Indah has an excellent large painted board map that shows and lists all the best dive sites on Bangka Island as well as the surrounding dives at Gangga Island and the Lembeh Straits. Above is one of the three side by side boards with this one showing the Gangga, Bangka and upper most Sulawesi area.

All the gear including the HD video rig was all carried by staff to the boat which was really appreciated.

The Totohe is Mimpi Indah's primary dive boat seen below which was a shot I took in the late afternoon when the cool breeze blows. This is a newer boat that was really clean and well laid out, and with twin outboards, it's fast. Mimpi Indah has their act together as bottled water was always on board and there is always a DAN oxygen pack as well as a first aid kit.


Almost all the dive sites are within 15 minutes of the resort grounds, but the time goes by really fast as one passes by interesting volcanic formations, pristine white coral sand beaches rarely visited by humans bordered by lush green jungle and stunning, azure crystal waters. This place rocks!


The diving is just spectacular. Visibility ranged from 10-30 meters, and the array of soft corals, hard corals, invertebrates, fish and such was just unbelievable.

Macro photographers and videographers could have just staked out a 50 foot radius and never left the area, there were that many macro subjects. Almost every anemone had shrimp in it, and the crinoids were numerous. I’ve never seen such a density and variety of aquatic life.

We did dive about 20 minutes south of Mimpi Indah off a protruding volcanic pinnacle that I was promised would be a spectacular wide angle dive, but in typical fashion, one could pick from wide angle subjects, macro subjects, or both. This dive location was one of the very few I actually ran into other divers, where we ran into about 8 divers from the North Sulawesi Aggressor. Every single diver had some form of camera, most being higher end pro equipment.

Left the HD Video Rig On Board - Big Mistake!

After a days diving we decided to make the last dive right in front of the resort in about 5-10 meters of water. I decided to leave the HD video rig on board and just make it a fun dive. Big mistake! Right there in the shallows hiding in staghorn coral was a magnificent Platax pinnatus juvenile batfish. Pinnate batfish in juvenile form are jet black, have extremely tall elegant flowing dorsal and ventral fins fringed by an almost illuminated orange perimeter banding. They are just stunning animals that are rare to see. Oh well, hopefully over the next week we’d run into another one, so I vowed to not dive again without the HD rig.

Refly our main dive guide was immensely entertaining without trying to be. He hails from the local main town of Manado, and comes in with each new arrival of guests.
He was quite deft with the stainless steel pointing rod most dive guides carry, and he knew just how to gently assist in coaxing without stressing the macro subjects into the viewfinder.

I had given him a list of the items I had hoped to see and video, and he found almost all of them. One animal I was keen to video was the beautifully odd Banggai cardinalfish, and upon my inquiry he deadpanned back; “How many do you want to see, 500 or 1000?”

In between dives, he was always mockingly singing some American songs like Britney Spears song or Bob Marley’s ”No Woman, No Cry” and it was contagious as well, and we all frequently broke into a group a capella song mock.

When we weren’t clowning around in between dives, the Totohe is set up with ample bench space for napping inside or on top of the main deck.

The 2nd dive guide was always there to hand me a cup of bottled water after suiting up, and to hand me a towel when I de-kitted after a dive.

Our boat captain Bobby was always helpful and competent and frequently put his mind together with Refly of where the next dive site would be based upon tides, conditions and what critters we were interested in seeing. If we asked to dive in an area known for a particular critter, we either went straight there, or we were told that the dive site where the animal frequents was in the wrong tidal phase, but we would go there on such and such day and time, and they didn’t forget to make that happen. I can rattle off scientific and generic names for some of the most odd animals and my long list is committed to memory. Refly didn’t forget any of it…impressive! But still no additional Pinnate batfish sighting…

The Lembeh Straits Beckons

After 3 days of never visiting the same dive site twice around Bangka Island, we planned on making a 3 tank dive day trip to the Lembeh Straits which is about 60-70 minutes scenic boat ride south of Bangka Island. Below is what our view was from the Totohe approaching the Straits.


There is a popular hypothesis that the land mass that forms the East Sulawesi area encompassing ports like Bitung and the Lembeh Island a mile across the Straits were originally two far apart land masses that through plate shifting, brought two incredibly divergent aquatic biospheres that co-mingled into some of the most bizarre macro critters known.

The area is primarily black volcanic sand and many dive sites have very limited plant and coral growth. It is precisely that reason why the wild colored macro critters are so easy to spot and photo or video.

Our first dive in the Straits brought us to a large sea slug with a pair of Periclimenes imperator commensal shrimp. This origin of the scientific name appears to not be definitively known. While imperator is clearly emperor, Periclimenes is either Periklymenon the shape shifting character in the Greek mythological fable of Jason and the Argonauts, or periclymenum, which is Greek for honeysuckle, a flower that changes shape and color. My guess is Jason in Jason and the Argonauts was named after the shape shifting honeysuckle.

Again Refly our dive guide gently encouraged the colorful shrimp to stay on top of the slug as I videotaped it rather than the shrimp reverting to the safer underside.

Our second dive was going to be the place for Banggai cardinalfish. There was no shortage of subjects, and Refly’s numerical interragotive became clear-they were everywhere!

There’s an interesting thing about these fish. We know that clownfish acclimate themselves to each separate host anemone gradually, till they can safely interact without triggering the host anemone’s pneumatocyst stinging cells. But on this expedition I encountered over a dozen different, divergent species fish that also were able to safely contact the anemone tentacles without being stung, and the Banggai cardinalish was one of them.

On our second Lembeh Straits dive we videotaped an unknown flatfish, a large deadly stonefish who was quite the buoyancy control motivator, vertically camouflaged razorfish, a yellow ornate ghost pipefish hanging around a green clump of algae, and a tiny juvenile octopus that we shot about five minutes of him trying to slowly extricate himself from the glare of the dual HID video lights. Eventually he had had enough of the video paparazzi, so in cue he elected to employ the odd behavior of curling up into a ball, and using two tentacles to locomote bipedally. Oh, what a magnificent animal and display that was!

We did run into a few other local traditional style dive boats, and the majority were not on par with the Totohe we were on. I did notice that dive boat captains and guides from local resorts all shared critter information with other captains regardless of which resort they were from, and often we tied up to another dive boat and vice versa during surface intervals so as to reduce anchor casting by utilizing single moorings for multiple boats.

Refly inquired with several boat captains if anyone had run into a rhinopias which was on my list, and sure enough, Refly got a tip that there was a purple rhinopias spotted that day at a depth of 15 meters at a particular dive site, and off we were. After searching for 15 minutes, there he was!

Our last dive of the day in the Straits was at a site that was like a cavern carved out from erosion in volcanic rock on the west side of the Straits as shown below. This put it in the shade, and the water was quite calm. As we approached the designated mooring rope, I looked down at the vertical volcanic rock of the vertical cove wall. I don’t know if any of you have been to Disneyland in Los Angeles and been on the Submarine Voyage ride, but attached to the docking areas' blue concrete wall were artificial starfish and sea fans. Well, at this dive site, there were the same things, only ten time more dense and real.


Rumor had it that within a crevice there was what we call in the U.S. a “red flame scallop”, but Refly the dive guide called it an electric clam. I initially corrected him on the clam versus scallop name, but it appears he was right after all, as after some research it is appears to correctly be called a “file clam” although the common apparently improper name is flame scallop.

Sure enough, we found a crevice and there in wedged back into it was a small clam with a red mantle that was producing flashing arcs of very noticeable white light along its mantle. I captured some great macro HD video footage of that amazing animal. Wait till you see it!

The remainder of the dive was done at this sight as it was full of soft corals, clear water and lots of macro subjects within plant growth.

If you want, during your longer lunch interval, the Mimpi Indah crew will come up to the shore in Lembeh and you can sit down, eat lunch, relax, walk around or play ping-pong with the terminally cute local gawking village kids who are adorable, it is just a 5 minute excursion to the beach.

All too soon we left the Straits. As to the ride back, the entire time I was there the seas were always smooth, pleasant, and I was glued to taking in the beautiful surround land and ocean scenery as we traveled, making the time pass by in a flash.

Now, Where Is That Batfish?

The next day back on Bangka Island, we looked at every dive site for a suitable juvenile Pinnate batfish to video. We did find one a neighboring beach reef, but it was a shallow muck dive in 5 feet of water and the visibility was not suitable for video.

After a full days diving, since the next day was our last, we decided to do a night dive that evening. Refly and Bobby knew that hairy pink squat lobsters were still on my list, so off to a 20 foot deep much dive we were. Funny thing is, Refly had a night dive light that could best be described as a backup. Although I carry a backup too, I don’t bother with a main light when I bring the HD video rig. When Refly was trying to sort out his dive light situation, I just calmly deadpanned to him: “You won’t need a light - trust me”. Well, they didn’t, and after more fiddling, he had his backup as his primary. Over the side he went, and he floated on the surface waiting for me. Over the side I went, and then I set my 35-50W dual video HID’s to the lower 35 watts setting, and turned them both on. Simultaneous laughter erupted from everyone including Refly and the crew, as now they knew what I meant, it was like diving in the day, as the dual HID’s set apart are like a giant high intensity flood light casting light in a 20 foot radius. Refly’s backup light became completely unnecessary.

Within just 10 minutes, a particular brown coral with projections was being closely inspected by Refly, and he turned and gave me that look that I learned meant victory.

On the surface and within the recesses of that coral were at least half a dozen hairy pink squat lobsters. While setting up to macro video them, I noticed a tiny almost transparent shrimp just a centimeter or so long that either really liked my dive lights, really liked the coral projection he was on, or thought the coral projection was like a single parallel bar and he was the gymnast, as round and round he went in rapid succession about a dozen times like a kid on a merry-go-round. Next was some great HD footage of several hairy pink squat lobsters sparring for turf.

The remainder of the night dive found reef squid on the surface capitalizing on my dive lights and the plankton, more razorfish, a juvenile cuttlefish that had no intention on being videotaped, and menagerie of macro shrimp.

I found that I couldn’t video a subject longer than 2 minutes or the plankton would be come so dense it became amusingly comical.

Last Dive Day

On the last day of diving we looked all about for Hymenocera pictas and H. Elegans also known as Harlequin or Clown shrimp, but we were told they are rare in these parts. I did get some great macro of some new critters. One was a tiny juvenile frogfish the size of a pinky fingernail that couldn't really swim yet, but oh how he desperately closed his gills to jet a centimeter with each breath.

As our time was winding down, we decided to just do the last dive in the shallows right on the house reef right in front of Mimpi Resort.

Now Mimpi's house reef is great on it’s own, and is perfect for snorkeling in the calm waters. We were searching all over to see if for some unlikely chance, that batfish we saw from a week prior was still around. We made pass after pass up and down along the front of the house reef, each time at a slightly different depth, looking deep within the staghorn coral for our elusive Pinnate batfish, to no avail. We were finally down to within 5 minutes of time to surface with no sign of the Mr. Batfish, and just then Refly turned his head, motioned excitedly to me, and as I looked to where he was pointing, we started "High Fiving” each other underwater! There he was, the same magnificent juvenile jet black batfish we saw the week prior, complete with flowing, exaggerated jet black dorsal and pectoral fins frigned with bright orange. Although there was some reduced visibility so close to shore, I spent a good 10 minutes videotaping that one subject, and the footage came out great. I think Refly's new nickname should be Batman, and he should now move on from Britney Spears and Bob Marley to mockingly singing the theme song from the Batman TV show.

Who would have thought, the last dive, on the last day, down to the last five minutes, and there he was such a magnificent animal! Just about every critter I had hoped to capture on HD video, I was able to. The rest of the afternoon I just walked around on the resort and took in some of the beautiful below sights.

Sadly We Leave Our New Friends

It seemed like just yesterday that we had arrived, but now it was time to pack and say our goodbyes.

All the equipment was carried for us to the boat, and we elected to take the smaller speedboat as they call it.

I walked one last time around the resort to say my goodbyes, and the sight of all standing on the beach waving as we motored away was bittersweet.

In Conclusion

For decades I have seen the most magnificent, beautiful tiny animals and plants in fine art coral reef animal books, knowing it would probably stay just a dream, but thanks to my new friends at Mimpi Indah Resort, I got to see first hand and video animals of almost indescribable oddity and beauty that most non-divers can't even dream of.

Our hats are off to you, Owen and Ulva and staff, as the result of your dream of opening and running a dive resort results in people being able to experience and see things so amazingly spectacular, they will forever remember it as one of the joyous highlights in a persons life, as it will certainly be one of ours!

The Publisher
08-18-2008, 04:59 PM
Ok, here is the completed almost 20 minute HD video we shot and produced as part of the review we did of Mimpi Indah Resort on Bangka Island in North Sulawesi, Indonesia.



08-19-2008, 03:08 AM
Thanks for the great trip report, I rarely read through lenghy reports but this one i did! :) . The electric clam you saw at nudi retreat in the crevice was probably the one uploaded in my gallery. Also got a video of it (though probably not as "solid" as yours since it's from a digital camera)

I wonder if we had the same guide - Rafly? He was great and from the way you descibed, seems to be the "joker" from my trip. ;)

If you ever drop by Singapore, let me know and we'll have to meetup. Cheers!

The Publisher
08-19-2008, 07:40 AM
If he was always mocking the song by Bob Marley called "No Woman No Cry" then that is the guy. He lives in Manado. He was a lot of fun and was a critter spotting genius too.

He is in the photo embedded in my review, the photo of the 4 guys sitting with their backs to the bamboo classroom. He is the guy to the far left of the image. It is the image next to the blue painted dive site board.

We searched for days for that juvenile Pinnate batfish as I saw it the first day but didn't take my video rig with me. He is the one who found it again on the last 5-10 minutes of the last dive of the week before I had to pack up.

08-21-2008, 04:51 PM
I found this video on youtube. Do you have more footage of the first frogfish (it's also the first thing in the video) in the video labeled Bangka Island, North Sulawesi, Part 2?


The Publisher
08-21-2008, 06:23 PM
Ah, the juvenile green frogfish.....The part used in the video is the best part of the entire clip, but the original clip total is about 1 minute long.

The thing was really tiny, maybe 30 mm long, and really didn't want anything to do with me. I sometimes try to reposition some subjects under the right conditions, but this juvenile frogfish was clearly in a defensive flight mode, and I didn't want to stress it, so often times the shot angle wasn't the best.

It was hilarious watching it propel itself by expelling water out of its gills.

08-22-2008, 04:27 PM
Ah, the juvenile green frogfish.....The part used in the video is the best part of the entire clip, but the original clip total is about 1 minute long.

The thing was really tiny, maybe 30 mm long, and really didn't want anything to do with me. I sometimes try to reposition some subjects under the right conditions, but this juvenile frogfish was clearly in a defensive flight mode, and I didn't want to stress it, so often times the shot angle wasn't the best.

It was hilarious watching it propel itself by expelling water out of its gills.

Ah, ok I was wondering about the length, thanks for including that information. The frogfish is Histiophryne cryptacanthus, commonly called the "Rodless" Frogfish.

The Publisher
08-22-2008, 11:22 PM
Ok, how about the small black frogfish where my video lights brought the swarm of plankton and mid-clip it snapped up one?

I am trying to get some footage of an anglerfish doing its angling thing, but none so far.

08-25-2008, 12:50 AM
Ok, how about the small black frogfish where my video lights brought the swarm of plankton and mid-clip it snapped up one?

I am trying to get some footage of an anglerfish doing its angling thing, but none so far.

I've been looking for this but don't see it? What part is it in and about what time? I'll ID it if possible :)

The Publisher
08-25-2008, 04:03 AM
I just realized the juvenile black frogfish is not in this video, it is in the HD video I am currently editing. I have two separate shots of it, dark black, with occasional stuff growing on it and some whitish patches of who knows what.

It was shot at night so that means there are tons of large plankton around it and in each shot it watches, waits then snaps up a planktonic shrimp in unbelievable speed.

08-27-2008, 04:10 PM
I just realized the juvenile black frogfish is not in this video, it is in the HD video I am currently editing. I have two separate shots of it, dark black, with occasional stuff growing on it and some whitish patches of who knows what.

It was shot at night so that means there are tons of large plankton around it and in each shot it watches, waits then snaps up a planktonic shrimp in unbelievable speed.

Cool, looking forward to seeing it! :P

11-11-2008, 06:42 PM
I just realized the juvenile black frogfish is not in this video, it is in the HD video I am currently editing. I have two separate shots of it, dark black, with occasional stuff growing on it and some whitish patches of who knows what.

It was shot at night so that means there are tons of large plankton around it and in each shot it watches, waits then snaps up a planktonic shrimp in unbelievable speed.

Your PM box is full :)