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Lembeh Strait: The Muck Capital

A Coconut octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) scutters along the sea bed, while carrying the shells of a bivalves to be used as shelter. Coconut octopus gains its namesake from its tool-using behaviour, utilising coconut shells or bivalve shells for protection against predators, which exhibits a remarkable intelligence of this cephalopod species.

A Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) floats below the surface near a small village on the shore of Lembeh Strait.

Black-banded demoiselle (Amblypomacentrus breviceps) peeks out from a algae-covered glass bottle on the sea floor.

Juvenile humpback batfish (Platax batavianus) hides itself among the arms of a feather stars. The appearance of the juvenile is largely different from the adult, which aids in camouflage during the vulnerable early stage of life.

Longfin snake-eel (Pisodonophis cancrivorus) peeks from its burrow in the black volcanic sand while being accompanied by a commensal shrimp.

A Denise's pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus denise) camouflages itself on among the colourful branchs of gorgonian sea fan, which the seahorse utilises as its host throughout its entire lifespan, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. The Denise's Pygmy is one of the smallest representative of seahorses species with maximum height of less than 2 cm. The species is currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN red list, from the limited data oด their population and rarity in the wild.

Extended polyps of soft corals move with the current, capturing food in the water column

A Bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) extends its head from its burrow in the sandy seabed, waiting to ambush prey. The species is the largest polychaete, reaching the length of 3 metres.

Peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) emerges from its burrow before prowling the muck in search of its prey. The mantis shrimps are voracious predators armed with keen visual sense and raptorial appendage that can strike at the same acceleration as a .22 bullet.

Oriental bluespotted maskray (Neotrygon orientalae), a newly described maskray from the Neotrygon kuhlii species complex prowls on the sandy bottom in search for food.

School of Sunburst butterflyfishes (Chaetodon kleinii) swoop in to feed on the eggs of Sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilis).

A group of Banggai cardinalfish, (Pterapogon kauderni) form a school, taking shelters among the branches of Staghorn coral (Acropora sp.). This Endangered fish is naturally endemic to the Banggai Archipelago of Central Sulawesi, but a population of Banggai cardinalfish was introduced to the Lembeh Strait in 2000 by the aquarium trades, and they are now widely established in the area.

Lembeh is the name of the long and narrow Strait that separates the islands of Sulawesi and Lembeh, being a shipping route near the harbour town of Manado. But under its water, Lembeh Strait boasts a large diversity of marine life, especially the weird and colourful critters, giving its world-renown name as the Muck Diving capital of thee World that attracts divers from around the world to find these photogenic subjects.

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