We must start when we see his flamboyant dress orange and blue patterns, because the second after, it has disappeared into the depths of the coral substrate. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
We must start when we see his flamboyant dress orange and blue patterns, because the second after, it has disappeared into the depths of the coral substrate. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

A mandarin at dusk

#Bangka #Sulawesi # Indonesia

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

It's a rarity. A shy little fish that shows up only at the end of the day. It's on the house-reef of the resort Mimpi Indahat Bangka Island I found the Mandarin fish. It was during my stay in Sulawesi (Indonesia), in July 2010.

Elusive

Flamboyant tangerine dress, electric blue stripes, waving flippers ... So early glimpse, so soon disappeared. The Mandarin fish is lively, elusive. Almost impossible to photograph.

Mandarin is a very small fish and a big shy, who prefers to stay hidden in the intertwined coral debris. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Mandarin is a very small fish and a big shy, who prefers to stay hidden in the intertwined coral debris. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

He prefers to stay hidden under the protective interlacing of the coral, of course. Where the lens of my Canon Eos 7D has a hard time making the focus.

Especially under water the light declines even faster, as the night falls.

Night dive

But Jemi, my Indonesian guide, promised me a Mandarin to finish the stay. And I, the chilly one who usually is reluctant to return to the water after dusk, so I agreed to a night dive!

I do not regret.

We spent an infinite time at shallow depth, hanging over the reef, motionless, on the lookout, eyes wide, lulled by a light surf.

At regular intervals, Jemi sweeps the pile of coral branches with the brush of his flashlight. He took care to alleviate the too bright light with a red plastic bag. He proceeds without a sudden gesture, taking dark pauses.

Our patience ends up paying. We see several.

Patience game

Without too much effort, I try to draw them the portrait, to these small mandarin fish frightened by our presence.

Result: a lot of failures and a single picture vaguely showable. Which hardly translates the enchantment of this long waiting in weightlessness, of this game of patience in a subaqueous twilight atmosphere.

We must start when we see his flamboyant dress orange and blue patterns, because the second after, it has disappeared into the depths of the coral substrate. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
We must start when we see his flamboyant dress orange and blue patterns, because the second after, it has disappeared into the depths of the coral substrate. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

This is the second time, in my life as a diver, that I have the chance to meet mandarin fishes: there had been, in 2008, this other dive in the Philippines, on the reef of the island of Siquijor, which I had loved so much.

But I'm sure there will be others!

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

  1. Last summer in bunaken I had the chance to go watch these little mandarins, twice I was treated to a magical show. During the second dive there is even a cute little drier who came to make his girlfriend in front of my goal! All this to say that day and night the underwater world is fairy even for a cloister who is afraid of black like me!
    In any case thank you for sharing these stories and photos (too rare for my taste !!), continue! And it gives me ideas to prepare the next vacation!

  2. Simply beautiful, I met a small family not too shy this year on the island of Bantayan in the Philippines ... A memorable dive I invite you to take a look at the clichés on my blog 8)

  3. Ah, mandarins ... still a miniature beauty like nudibranchs ... but so much more difficult to photograph!
    I love them so much that I have dedicated to them a photo gallery: http://www.mantaleau.fr/galeries/2006_oct_bunaken_mandarins/N4_Galerie_2006_oct_bunaken_mandarins.html
    It was in Bunaken, not far away ...
    In Bangka, I was surprised to see one day ... but even more stealthily and hidden than the night! Lembeh was also a nice place to see them, like on the Reef House of various lodge

  4. Besides the beauty of this little fish, his name is full of seduction; it is inevitably reminiscent of Chinese mandarins, and if moreover, it is a shy, what a beautiful underwater tale you could imagine! 💡 🙂

    Thank you for these photos! 😉

  5. @nani: This night dive was fantastic. After the mandarins, we stayed a long time under water, and like you, we crossed a lot of other critters ...
    I'm going to buy new tickets, promised!
    😉

    @fabrice: They are not easy to see, a guide has to take you to the right place, and then it's a matter of patience ...
    🙄

    @OLeev: I come back your blog: your photos of the little family of mandarins (and others) are beautiful! Thank you for the link. This Filipino trip reminds me of good memories ...
    🙂

    @manta: Thank you for the link, and congratulations for all these pictures of the mandarins. They deserved a whole gallery! I did not dive on the housereef of Divers Lodge in Lembeh ... Next time!
    🙄

    @ysbilia: I discovered that it is also called cashmere fish, which is just as elegant.
    🙂

  6. I enjoyed the Filipino trip this year a really very open people !!!
    Regarding the photos thank you for the compliment in passing 8) but I really think that I invest in a box for my SLR !!! the photo of the mandarins were taken with the small Olympus MJU 8000 of my girlfriend who hold the 10m but I think I drowned after this descent between 8 and 9m, he began to take the fleet thereafter 🙁 but good photos are here 🙂 in the meantime I let you take a look at my gallery Underwater Photography on my photo blog.
    The photos are shot with the gear that you want to lend me on the road 😀 good and bad at last I leave you alone judge!
    hoping to be able to read you again and again and then maybe we can meet you next day during our joint wanderings, this year we met you very little you had the good weather on Sulawesi and me the fleet 😀 but what a country! !!

    Ps: I went through the island retreat this year and pulled my buddies from Fadilah Cottage to see Bomba's side too but what a disappointment the kitchen has apparently changed drastically, I remembered your pics of pizza and other pretty put we arrived on a completely abandoned corner and a fairly average basic kitchen! but good nearly 3 years have passed since! So finally short, that's what we say.
    Happy new year and long life the little bubble 😉
    see you soon

  7. @OLeev: I had good weather in the beginning, but at the end of my stay in Sulawesi, it was pretty good too ... The locals told me that they did not understand anything, that it was not the season of rains, normally, that the climate was broken, etc. etc.

    About your PS: yes, everything can change very quickly in Asia. I do not know if Sylvie Manley is still there, supervise the bungalows and the kitchen as she did at the time ... During my stay, thanks to her, the place was charming and the food great.

    Good trips in Asia!
    8)

  8. Wow, I'm going to Bangka and Siladen next March (Coral Eyes and Bobocha), do you think we can see mandarins in snorkeling? (I do not dive)
    Catherine (Rennes too)

    1. @Catherine: not practicing snorkeling, I do not realize how easy it is to approach the mandarins just in fins-mask-tuba at dusk. It is certainly doable if there is a shallow mandarins corner and I imagine that a swimmer is less noisy than a bottle diver who makes bubbles. Ask once on the spot ...

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