Print version diving in Bangka , Gangga island, Pulisan and Benteng (approx. 2 pages)

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This group of islands and the adjoining coast is known for the strong currents (like a washing machine) and the pelagic fishes and large schools of fish you find here. What impresses me again and again are the beautiful colors of the reef here - orange, yellow and red soft corals everywhere and rare nudibrachs that want to vie for attention.

Bangka Island is located just north of the tip of Sulawesi. There are 4 villages around the island located along the shore. It can be reached from Manado, Bunaken or Lembeh but there are also two dive resorts on Bangka and the neighbor island of Gangga and one in Benteng on the mainland. You can also go overland by car to Pulisan or Benteng. The interesting dive sites lie all to the east of Bangka and along the northeast coast of the mainland.

Bangka and Gangga island group

Lehaga or Lihaga (No 13): Come here around five thirty in the evening and you will see Mandrine fishes doing a courtship dance. The male (larger) displays his dorsal fins to attract the female. Soon they rise together from their lair, side by side, and head for open water to release spawn and eggs.

Gangga island house reef (No. 14): this is a volcanic slope covered with soft corals, table corals and sponges. If you stay at the resort you can make a night dive. They told us you can see shrimps and lobsters, sometimes cuttlefish and octopus and several species of scorpion fish.

Aer Banua I (No 15): This dive site lies on the west of Talisei Island. You dive on drop-off with a very nice top with good coral cover, lots of gorgonians, colorful soft corals and large sponges. With luck you can even find a green Halimeda Ghostpipefish hiding in the seagrass in about 20 meters. Also a good dive site for night dives.

Sahaung (Sahaong) (No. 24) is my favorite dive site around the Bangka islands. The dive site consists of a series of large underwater pinnacles that brake the surface. There is an area where the pinnacles seem to form giant steps. The landscape is very beautiful with orange soft corals, sponges and sea fans. Everywhere are snappers, surgeon fish, fusiliers and trigger fish. I was hanging about on the edge and observing this huge fish soup - beautiful! We also saw pygmy seahorses, moray eels and a school of glasfishes on the top and on another dive an eagleray! And most times there are small sharks under the table corals. If you are with a dive guide who knows the place you might also be able to find the elusive Hippocampus pontohi, a tiny brownish seahorse. There can be strong currents and surges at shallower depths. The southeast tip of Sahaung is also very good for diving.

Batu Gosoh (No. 28): This is an underwater pinnacles, the reef is very steep and there are some small caves. We saw schools of fish (batfish, butterflyfish, bannerfish, snappers) and two turtles. Our dive guide said, there are sometimes mackerels and dogtooth tunas.

Northern coast: Pulisan, Benteng and Ponteng

Pulisan, Benteng and Ponteng are small fishing villages on the north and northeast coast of Sulawesi. They can also be reached by car from Manado.

Tanjung Tarabitan (Torowitan) (No. 1): a steep wall with lots of cuts and overhangs and swim throughs. Nicely covered with hard and soft corals. You finish the dive on a reef flat with sand and rubble. We was some large Napoleon wrasses and quite a lot of fish.

Batu Mandi (No. 7) is located just opposite of Bangka Island close to Pulisan (Sulawesi main land). This dive is on a wall with a sandy bottom. This is a shallower dive ranging from 5 to 25m. We saw mackerels, a ribbon eel, several fire dartfish, jawfish and even a stonefish in the shallow part. The coral cover is really nice and colorful.

Tanjung Slop (Pulisan house reef) (No. 8): We dived at the house reef and I liked it a lot. Just at the beginning we saw a humpback scorpionfish, then a blue ribbon eel. But my favorite was a small yellow frogfish that I could observe for a long time. It opened its jaw several times and it started to move its lure again and again. There was also a nice pink leaffish in a whitish gorgonian fan and several nudibranchs.

Pulau Ponteng (No. 11): This is a very nice dive site on the east coast towards Lembeh. Several pinnacles rise from about 31m up, all covered with orange and yellow soft corals. There are fish everywhere, but also take a look at the reef, because there are nudibranchs, flatworm and shrimps to be found.

Batu Putih (No. 12): The best diving is on the two large rocks lying on about 26m. Just on the rocks we found four different species of nudibranchs, one of them (Hypselodoris iacula) I hadn't seen any other place before. We would have liked to stay longer, but our computer told us to go up. Fortuately there was a lot more to see on the slope: ribbon eels, juvenile sweetlips and more nudibranchs.

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