As a diving instructor and liveaboard cruise director I’ve often been asked which is my favourite dive site. Having dived in the Red Sea, Central America, Asia and Australia this is of course a very tough decision, being a libran makes it even tougher! I’ve tended to basically divert the question. So much does depend upon the time of day, the weather, the marine life seen and the divers you’re with. I’ve had fabulous dives at SS Thistlegorm but likewise I’ve had exceedingly challenging and not so enjoyable dives at that site too.
So when on a liveaboard diving trip in Komodo last month I was asked this very question, I decided to turn things around and look at it from a different perspective – which dive of this trip, or any trip, would I not want to miss? Suddenly the answer was clear – The Unusual Suspects in Bima Bay.
I first dived here with Siren Fleet in 2009, it was the first dive of our holiday and having a new camera housing I didn’t take my camera but instantly regretted it. There was so much to see and my eyes were really opened to the amazing critter life that’s so active in this Indonesian bay. Thankfully our cruise director mentioned we would dive the site again at the end of the holiday and all the divers were in whole hearted agreement.
The site itself is little more than a sandy slope with a few boulders, dotted here and there are soft corals, crinoids, hydroids and algaes providing a little colour and plenty of places for creatures to hide. The max depth advisable is 18m though much of the dive time is spent in the 5-10m range. Technically you could consider this “muck diving” due to the trash debris that the critters have turned into homes but its not really dirty – no used nappies (diapers) have been seen.
As a lover of the little stuff, I’m totally in my element diving here. Going along slowly and sticking closely to a keen eyed guide can really open your eyes to some of the wonders. Thorny and estuary seahorses, ambon scorpion fish, waspfish, mimic octopus, frogfish and seamoths are typically sighted in the shallow sand and rubble, whilst deeper along the boulder strewn reef its common to find ghost pipefish, fringed filefish, lobsters, mantis shrimp, moray eels, zebra crabs and coleman shrimp riding fire urchins, and the latest dive afforded a new sighting for me – Tiger shrimp!
Since that first time I’ve returned to The Unusual Suspects 11 times, with my longest dive recorded at 103 minutes and that still felt like not long enough. Needless to say I’ll be heading back again in 2016 – with a better camera!
Bima is on the island of Sumbubwa, part of the Lessser Sunda Islands. There are as yet no dive centres in the area so its only possible to dive there by liveaboard. Waow, Indo Siren, Damai and Arenui all have scheduled departures from Bima or offer the site as part of their Komodo itineraries. If you’d like to experience the delights of this critter hotspot visit liveaboard.com for trip dates and availability or select from the photos below.