Ornate ghost fish. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Ornate ghost fish. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

The small critters of the reef

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

In Indonesia, the word "biodiversity" makes sense. Here in the Sea of Celebes, the underwater world teems with bizarre and fascinating creatures, often tiny.

The beautiful reefs of Bangka Island

Since I take pictures underwater, I love these little beasts that populate the tropical reefs. At each dive, I marvel. Like a kid, never tired.

The reefs of North Sulawesi are worth the detour. Compared to the island of BunakenIn Bangka, where I was three years ago, the sites of Bangka, a little further north, are interesting because they allow to mix different types of diving:
→ the "Muck-dive." on a sandy bottom, where the coral and algae debris, holes and bumps are carefully scanned for any bugs hiding in them;
→ the classic ride along the drop offs, rich in groves of colorful soft corals and schools of spinning fish.

A lionfish scares me out of the corner of my eye ... (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Soft corals. (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

I decided not to return to Bunaken this year. The place begins to become a little too well known and frequented. The resorts have developed on the island and it seems that we meet more divers and apprentice divers than fish under water ...

Bangka is definitely more peaceful, and especially its funds are better preserved. And at Murex, there are great guides, to the eyes of lynx under water ...

Walk along the reef. (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Here is the little people of the reef, crossed around the Bangka. You just have to click once on a picture : it will open wide, with its caption, and you can then navigate from one picture to another, with the arrows of the keyboard... Have a nice walk !


They are colloquially called frog-fish or toads, because of the English name "frog-fish". It suits them. The family to which they belong is that of the antennaires. I like them very much, these shapeless fish that can barely swim and look like nothing but the sponges they like to hide on.

I didn't take the time to look through the identification books to find everyone's little name, but my favorite is the little toadfish called "clown" (3rd photo below). Not very cooperative, it remained clinging to its piece of coral without deigning to show me its best profile. The bottom one, with its little orange spots, is a tiny fish that I had never met before.

Toadfish or antennae. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. July 2010.

Toadfish. (Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Toadfish or antennae. (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Toadfish or antennae. (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Small cuttlefish and mini octopus

All these creatures change in appearance and color, when they feel threatened or seek to be confused with the environment. The effect is always striking.

The astonishing little flamboyant cuttlefish (photo 2) is bristling with pustules and seems to be covered with waves of fire. We would spend hours admiring the infinite variations of her dress, which gives the impression of constantly waving.

Cuttlefish. (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Flaming cuttlefish. (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Small octopus (hairy octopus) ... Nicknamed Harry Potter by my Indonesian guide! (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Small cuttlefish. (Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Seahorses and cousins

Ah! How far away it seems to me, my very first encounter with the tiny pygmy seahorse, smaller than the nail on my little finger. And how much progress, since this first picture of 2008 not very clear, and the following

The little sea horses, and their cousins the "ghost-pipe fishes", especially the "ornated ghost-pipe fishes", are a pleasure of macro photography.

A seahorse-pygmy hung on its gorgonian branch. (Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Another species of pygmy hippocampus. (Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)

Ornate ghost fish. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Ornate ghost fish. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

Bunch of nudibranchs

Nudibranchs? I hear it's a girl thing. Helena, Valérie, Malene are like me They love these small sea slugs, which can take on endless shapes and colors.

Here is a small bouquet harvested in the waters of Bangka. And I'm counting on Anthonywho is not a girl but who likes nudis too, to give us their scientific name... 😉

Nudibranch. (Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010.)


  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

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  1. Selamat pagi Corinne, -or siang, or sore, or malam- it depends when you read me 😉

    It's a party for pygmies and toads... and even pygmy toads would say 😆 - I'm drooling over your "pontohi" seahorse and your polka dot nano-frogfish. 😯

    It's true that Murex has always had a reputation for having some of the best guides in the area... 🙂 it obviously doesn't disappoint.

    Happy photo hunt for the rest. 8)

  2. Creatures! Creatures! Creatures! 😀
    Nice pictures anyway. In the neighborhood, imagine how much fun you have to play with your camera and the animals.

  3. For nudibranchs, from top to bottom and from left to right, I think it's:
    1 / nembrotha kubaryana
    2 / chromodoris fidelis
    3 / a geographical variation of mexichromis mariei
    4 / jorunna funebris
    5 / glossodoris rufomarginata
    6 / halgerda batangas

    and I love all the other species that you describe too! Everything that's small is cute!

  4. @ Wet & Sea-Ludovic: Selamat malam !!! Well glad that my nano-frogfish and the little pontohi you like ... Yes, Aswar, my guide at Murex, is really excellent. And to say that he did not like diving at all in the beginning ... And then, he discovered the little ones. Now, he's an addict. And a connoisseur of local funds.

    @Mirta: I knew that you would be happy to discover through my eyes these small underwater creatures that I told you so much ... Kisses to the neighborhood.

    @Manta: You're too strong ... The next time I want to make the identification of strange creatures, I will send you a direct mail, it will go faster! Thank you!

  5. Yippee, nudibranches! The Halgerda is one of my favorites, but I have to admit that your picture of Jorunna funebris (thanks Manta) pleases me a lot too: it looks like a mini rabbit ambushed in the grass 😉

    Otherwise, since May and my trip to Lembeh, I've also become addicted to frogfish. And here, your little dotted is very attractive. I will put it on my list of "To see in real" for my next vacation Lembethiennes!

    In any case thank you thank you thank you for photos and story.

  6. 😮 Horror!!!! it's been a while since I took the time to come on your site and I almost missed your travel story!!!!
    Whew I catch up lost time savoring your photos, I enjoy with nudibranchs!
    That reinforces my idea of going back to Asia next year: D
    In the meantime I will dive into the Channel (water at 16 ° C it starts to heat up finally ...)

  7. @Malene: Yes, you're not the first person to tell me he looks like a little bunny!!! 😆
    As I write this reply, I am back in Lembeh!!! I found the famous bungalow you know. New pictures are coming, for very soon... 😉
    @ Helen: 🙂

    @Laurence: Yes, yes, yes... Asia is definitely worth it. And then the water is closer to 29°C than 16°C... 😀

  8. The underwater world contains a rich and abundant variety of animal species that will take the time to observe them ... remains that it is often difficult to find them so they blend in their environment, remain motionless and are small ! 8) Beautiful photos immortalizing this magical meeting! 8)

  9. @auxBulles: With a local dive guide, with a lynx eye and who knows the sites like his pocket, it's easier to spot them!

  10. Hello!
    I got this link by Cathy Haget.
    I also dive N2 & I go to Sulawesi in late July for 4 weeks.
    While browsing different blogs, I could see that the Togian islands had good 'press' versus Bunaken (too popular) - Apparently you have decided to go further north ... I have nothing reserved, you think that it will be feasible on the spot? I start in Makasar July 30, crossing the Sulawesi to finish in Manado & spend 3-4 days in the islands ...
    Terima kasih of your return


  11. Hi, silly comment, but nudibranch No. 4, from top to bottom and left to right, looks very much like a tiny white rabbit with black-tipped ears. Maybe I need to go into analysis... 🙂

    PS. Thank you for the beautiful photos ...

  12. @ Agnes Sorry, I answer you late ... You must have been there for a few days !!! I think that you will find without too much trouble to lodge and dive, even without having booked (we still do not find a place somewhere), do not worry. The Togian Islands are nice, but it's a journey to get there. I wish you a very nice trip!

    @Max: No, not "stupid" at all the comment, because you're not the first to tell me that this nudi looks like a rabbit!