2012 is shaping up to be a great year already!  Sandwiched between Christmas and New Year spent in Ambon and January and February in Raja Ampat, I spent 10 days in Lembeh with my friend Laura.

We started our trip with four days at Diver’s Lodge Lembeh, where I’ve stayed a couple of times before.  It is a fantastic little resort at the very southern tip of Lembeh Island with a homely atmosphere and stunning views of a small bay.  For the third time Ungke was our guide.  He a brilliant spotter but most importantly for me he’s very careful with the marine life and doesn’t ever touch, prod or poke the poor critters.  This is sadly a rare trait in a Lembeh guide!

With Ungke we encountered a smorgasbord of the must-see creature of Lembeh, of course all very weird and wonderful!  Amongst my highlights were a stunning little hairy frogfish with hair longer than I’ve ever seen on other individuals, tiger shrimps, an unusual crab that I can’t identify and a coconut octopus that picked up its clam shell home and wandered off with it!

After our stay at Diver’s Lodge we transferred across to Kasawari Resort where we’d won a four day stay as a lucky draw prize by entering the UW Festival Shootout 2011.  We’d been at the resort only 12 months earlier and it was great to see the friendly staff again.

We did great dives here too (it’s hard to go far wrong in Lembeh).  One dive in particular stands out for me at Tanjung Kubur.  Laura found a teeny tiny hairy octopus and I saw for the first time a small isopod parasite in the mouth of an anemonefish.  These parasites eat the tongue and sit in it’s place, sucking the fish blood!

Some other firsts on the trip was finally seeing a stargazer using it’s fleshy tongue as a lure to unsuspecting fish, a Phestilla nudibranch that mimics soft corals and the first time in years that I’d seen a sponge shrimp.  I’ve literally looked at ever sponge for the past 5 years and not found one but saw 4-5 on this trip!