5 hard-to-find underwater critters you should hope to spot in Lembeh

From the mimic octopus to the bobbit worm, keep your fingers crossed and look out for these guys

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The blue-ringed octopus, one of the world's most venomous animals, can be found in Lembeh (Photo: Sam David)

Lembeh is every underwater photographer’s paradise. Divers fly in from the world over to fin across dark, sandy seabeds with the hope of finding rare creatures, some as tiny as a grain of rice and some found nowhere else on Earth. If you’re headed to the muck diving capital of the world, you better cross your fingers and hope you find these five incredible marine animals in Lembeh:

The blue-ringed octopus

Say hello to the blue-ringed octopus, one of the world’s most venomous animals. It’s tiny – about the size of a golf ball – but its venom is 1,000 times (at the very least) more powerful than cyanide and it carries enough poison to kill about 26 adults in a matter of minutes. It flashes its remarkable striking blue rings as a warning to potential predators, and if a human were to get nipped, possible consequences include vomitting, numbness, suffocation, and even death. Blue-ringed octopus venom has no known antidote.

Also read: 6 things I learned at underwater photography boot camp

The thin and tiny Lembeh seadragon is one tough critter to shoot (Photo: Sam David)

The Lembeh seadragon

In 2006, the Lembeh seadragon (Kyonemichthys rumengani) was discovered in Lembeh by a dive guide named Noldy Rumengan. That’s how new it is to the human world! This tiny animal is extremely thin (about 1mm), making it a super tough subject to shoot. It doesn’t help that the Lembeh seadragon is brown in colour (to most divers it looks like some bit of coral) and it hangs onto overhanging walls and crevices with its tail – constantly moving when the current hits.

You know you’ve hit the jackpot if you do manage to find the elusive mimic octopus (Photo: Sam David)

The mimic octopus

The title of the ocean’s master of disguise undoubtedly belongs to the mimic octopus. The first time this amazing shapeshifter was documented was in 1998 off the coast of Indonesia, so it still remains a mysterious underwater alien to both divers and scientists alike. Its mimicry of various deadly creatures such as lionfish and sea snakes is absolutely intriguing (and useful), making it easier for the intelligent octopus to eat and avoid being eaten.

The hairy frogfish can swallow its food in one lightning-fast gulp (Photo: Sam David)

The hairy frogfish

The hairy frogfish is one strange looking thing. It looks very much like a large blob (or a piece of coral with real trippy eyes) and has an even weirder way of getting from place to place. Instead of swimming, the hairy frogfish uses its wide fins to move about along the seabed. When it’s time to eat, one thing they like to do is wave this extra-long, worm-like spine they have on their dorsal fins in front of their mouths to lure prey within striking distance. And then *boom*, dinner is served.

Also read: 10 underwater macro photography tips

As shiny and sparkly as they are, you don’t want to get too close to a bobbit worm (Photo: Sam David)

The bobbit worm

Ah, the bobbit worm. To many, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Commonly found during night dives, the terrifying bobbit worm can reach lengths of up to 10 feet. If you really think about it, that makes it way taller than the average human.

For food, they bury themselves in the seabed and once they sense something tasty swimming right above them, they use their razor sharp teeth and incredible speed to grab hold of it before dragging their prey into the depths of hell the sand. The feasting then begins. Careful not to get too close, they cause humans a lot of pain by inflicting a nasty bite.


About Dive Into Lembeh

Dive Into Lembeh from above (Photo: Dive Into Lembeh)

Without Dive Into Lembeh’s (DIL) sharp-eyed guides, we wouldn’t have been able to spot all these rare macro critters. Dive Into Lembeh is a boutique dive resort is helmed by industry veterans, Steve and Miranda Coverdale – the duo ran the nearby Kungkungan Bay Resort for a long time before their DIL days.

Aside from the excellent service, one of the greatest things about DIL is that their house reefs are Hairball and Aw Shucks – two very popular dive sites that are home to creatures like the hairy frogfish and even the mimic octopus. So essentially, you don’t need to go too far to find what you’re hoping to spot.

Photographers, pick your spot in the camera room (Photo: Dive Into Lembeh)

For photographers, there’s a super spacious and well-lit camera room where you can set up your underwater kit and charge batteries at your very own station. Massive camera (and gear) rinse tanks are located just outside the room, and the dive centre is right next door, so everything’s accessible and made easy for you. Almost all key dive sites are no more than 15 minutes away from DIL, and after each dive you’re brought back to the resort for the surface interval.

Guests at Dive Into Lembeh get a bungalow – and a Japanese onsen – all to themselves (Photo: Dive Into Lembeh)

The rooms at DIL truly define the resort’s ‘affordable luxury’ belief. Each bungalow features satellite TV with what seems to be an endless amount of channels, a water dispenser, air-con, a minibar, a day bed, and – perhaps best of all – a private Japanese onsen on the veranda that’s warm and ready for you after each day’s final dive. If that’s not enough, feel free to take a dip in the main pool and lounge around on the sunchairs between dives.

For rates and more info, visit the official website of Dive Into Lembeh. For updates, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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Co-founder and editor of GoodVis, Sam has been obsessed with scuba diving since 2011. When she’s not doing research on lesser-known dive destinations, ogling at new scuba gear, or taking pictures of fish underwater, she’s either writing or stuffing her face with awesome food (or doing both simultaneously).