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 Bunaken, 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 coral and seaweed debris, holes and bumps are closely scrutinized to find the creatures that hide themselves there;
→ 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 are the little people of the reef, crossed around the Bangka. Just click once on an image: it will open wide, with its legend, and you can then navigate from one photo to another, with the arrow keys ... Good ride!


They are known colloquially as frogfish or toads, because of the English name "frog-fish". It suits them well. The family to which they belong is that of the antennæ. I love them very much, those shapeless fish that can scarcely swim and look like nothing, except the sponges on which they like to hide.

I did not take the time to go through the books of identification to find the little name of each, but my favorite remains the little fish-toad said "clown" (3rd picture below). Not very cooperative, he remained clinging to his coral tip without deigning to present his best profile. Unpublished, for me, the bottom one, with its small orange spots: a tiny fish, which 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! It seems far, my very first meeting with the tiny pygmy seahorse, smaller than the nail of my little finger. And what progress, since this first picture of 2008 not very clear, and the following

Small 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? A girl thing, it seems. 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 loves nudis too much, to give us their little scientific name ... ;-)

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


  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

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  1. Selamat pagi Corinne, -ou siang, ou sore, ou malam- tout dépendra quand tu me lis. 😉

    C’est la fête aux pygmées et aux crapauds.. et même aux crapauds pygmées dirait-on 😆 – Je bave devant ton hippocampe « pontohi » et ton nano-frogfish à pois. 😯

    C’est vrai que Murex a toujours eu la réputation d’avoir parmi les meilleurs guides de la région… 🙂 ça ne se dément pas manifestement.

    Happy photo hunt for the rest. 8)

  2. Des créatures ! Des créatures ! Des créatures ! 😀
    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. Youpi, des nudibranches! Le Halgerda est un de mes préférés, mais je dois avouer que ta photo de Jorunna funebris (merci Manta) me plait beaucoup aussi: on dirait un mini lapin embusqué dans les herbes 😉

    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. 😮 Horreur!!!! voilà un moment que je n’avais pas pris le temps de venir sur ton site et j’ai failli louper ton récit de voyage!!!!
    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: Oui, tu n’es pas la première à me dire qu’il ressemble à un petit lapin !!! 😆
    À l’heure où j’écris cette réponse, je suis de retour à Lembeh !!! J’ai retrouvé le fameux bungalow que tu connais. De nouvelles photos sont à venir, pour très bientôt… 😉
    @ Helen: 🙂

    @Laurence: Oui, oui, oui… l’Asie, ça vaut vraiment le coup. Et puis l’eau est plus proche de 29°C que de 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. Salut, commentaire bête, mais le nudibranche No. 4, de haut en bas et de gauche à droite, ressemble beaucoup à un tout petit lapin blanc avec des oreilles à pointes noires. Peut-être j’ai besoin de passer en analyse… 🙂

    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!