Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lembeh Trip Report, July 2010

I just got back from 6 days at NAD Lembeh. Silkair flies direct to Manado, and a 60 min car and 30 min boat ride later, I was at the resort. NAD is a small resort with only 12 rooms. It is quite rustic and local. The rooms are quite basic but I appreciated the small ecological footprint as the energy and water needs are kept to a minimum. The food is local and quite good. Dive sites are all within 15 min boat ride from the resort and the boats are comfortable and fast, with drinking water, snacks, and fruits on board. Nitrox is available at a small additional charge.

The macro life in Lembeh is quite amazing. Highlights of my dives were seeing 4 mimic octopus on one dive, mating mandarinfish, wonderpus, coconut octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, hairy frogfish, pygmy seahorses, 3 tiger shrimp on one sponge, coleman shrimp, emperor shrimp, and lots of wire coral gobies and shrimp. The blue ringed octopus and stargazer remained elusive. I saw a huge solar powered nudi and a couple more that I had not seen before, but the nudi life is better elsewhere. As good as the marine life was, I felt that it was noticeably worse than when I spent a day diving Lembeh in December 2008. I was told that efforts are being made to conserve the area (divers are now charged a nominal conservation fee to dive the area) but more needs to be done to preserve the treasures of Lembeh.

The main attraction for me with NAD was the opportunity to take a photography class with Mike Veitch (his website is here). Mike is a well known nature photographer and runs NAD with Simon Buxton (his website is here). After a discussion of what I was looking for and reviewing some of my photos, we started the class, which consisted of theory, 4 dives, and a critique of my photos. My main focus was composition, ambient light, selective lighting, and using snoots. The pace was leisurely, with the class unfolding gradually over 3 days, interspersed with regular dives where I would practice what I had learned. I found the class extremely helpful and it was great to have an experienced photographer like Mike to answer my questions and bounce ideas off. I definitely plan on returning when I next hit a plateau.

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