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

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


It is a rarity. A small shy fish which shows itself only at the end of the day. It is on the house-reef of the resort Mimpi Indahon Bangka Island, that 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)

It 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 focusing.

Especially since underwater the light declines even faster as night falls.

Night dive

But Jemi, my Indonesian guide, promised me a Mandarin to finish my stay. And I, the chilly one who usually refuses to go back in the water after dusk, agreed to a night dive!

I do not regret.

We spent an infinite amount of time at shallow depths, suspended above the reef, motionless, staring, eyes wide open, lulled by a gentle surf.

At regular intervals, Jemi sweeps the cluster of coral branches with the brush of his flashlight. He has taken care to dim the bright light with a red plastic bag. He proceeds without abrupt gesture, sparing dark pauses.

Our patience ends up paying. We see several.

Patience game

Without being too persistent, I try to draw their portrait, to these little mandarin fish frightened by our presence.

Result: a lot of failures and only one vaguely showable picture. Which hardly translates the enchantment of this long wait in weightlessness, of this game of patience in a twilight subaquatic 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)
It is necessary to trigger as soon as we see its flamboyant dress with orange and blue patterns, because the next second, it has disappeared into the depths of the coral substrate. (Pulau Bangka, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

This is the second time, in my diving life, that I have the chance to meet mandarin fish: there was, in 2008, this other dive in the Philippineson the reef of the island of Siquijor, which I had loved so much.

But I'm sure there will be more!

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

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  1. Last summer in Bunaken, I had the chance to observe these little mandarins, and twice I was treated to a magical spectacle. On the second dive, even a cute little drier came to make her coquette in front of my lens! All this to say that day or night, the underwater world is enchanting, even for a claustrophobic person like me who's afraid of the dark!
    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 magnificent, 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 pictures presented 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 from here...
    In Bangka, I was surprised to see them during the day... but even more stealthily and hidden than at night! Lembeh was also a nice place to see them, as on the House Reef of Divers Lodge.

  4. Besides the beauty of this little fish, its name is full of seduction; it inevitably brings to mind Chinese mandarins, and if on top of that, it' s a shy one, what a beautiful underwater tale one could imagine! 💡 🙂

    Thank you for these pictures 😉

  5. @nani: This night dive was fantastic. After the mandarins, we stayed underwater for a very long time, and like you, we came across a whole host of other creatures...
    I'll get to work on new posts, I promise!
    😉

    @fabrice: They're not easy to see, you need a guide to take you to the right place, and then it's a question 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: Thanks for the link, and bravo for all these photos of the mandarins. They really deserved a whole gallery! I didn't dive on the housereef at Divers Lodge in Lembeh... Next time!
    🙄

    @ysbilia: I've discovered that it's also called kashmir fish, which is just as elegant.
    🙂

  6. I really enjoyed the Philippine trip this year, a really open-minded people!!!!
    Regarding the photos thank you for the compliment by the way 8) but I really need to think about investing in a housing for my SLR!!! the photos of the mandarins were taken with my girlfriend's little Olympus MJU 8000 which holds 10m but I think I drowned it after this descent between 8 and 9m, it started to take the water afterwards 🙁 but hey the photos are there 🙂 in the meantime I'll let you take a look at my gallery Underwater Photography on my photo blog.
    The photos are shot with the gear that people are willing to lend me on the road 😀 some good, some not so good, well, I'll leave you to be the judge!
    hoping to read you again and again and then maybe who knows cross you one day soon during our common peregrinations, this year we crossed each other by a 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 go and see Bomba too but what a disappointment the kitchen has apparently changed radically, I remembered your photos of pizza and other nice dishes we arrived on a corner completely abandoned and a basic kitchen pretty average!!! but well almost 3 years have passed since then!!!! So anyway, that's it.
    Happy new year and long life to la p'tite bulle 😉
    see you soon

  7. @OLeev: I had good weather at first, but by the end of my stay in Sulawesi, it rained quite a bit too... The locals were telling me that they didn't understand it, that it wasn't normally the rainy season, that the climate was out of whack, etc. etc...

    About your PS: yes, everything can change very quickly in Asia. I don't know if Sylvie Manley is still there, overseeing the bungalows and the kitchen as she used to... When I was there, 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 (at Coral Eyes and Bobocha), do you think you can see mandarins while snorkeling? (I don't dive).
    Catherine (Rennes too)

    1. @Catherine: not being much of a snorkeler, I'm not sure how easy it is to get close to the mandarins just by snorkeling at dusk. Surely it's doable if there's a shallow mandarin corner, and I imagine a swimmer is less noisy than a bottle diver blowing bubbles. Ask when you get there...

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