Four years of planning, preparing and training has now paid off! Bunaken Tec in association with Two Fish Divers is now organizing and actively leading Coelacanth exploration dives in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The first time that I came to Bunaken Island 4 years ago I was immediately drawn to the possibility of doing some seriously fun deep wall tec diving explorations. I was also surprised to hear, with such an incredible location, that no one was doing this already. I was then shocked to hear that the Coelacanth was discovered here in in Manado in 1997! What a tremendous opportunity to do some exploring to find this ancient creature.
The Coelcanth is a Devonian lobed fin fish that thrived in the oceans 450-500 million years ago. It was thought that the Coelcanth disappeared along with the dinosaurs over 73 million years ago. Then one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the 20th century happened when Marjorie Latimer, who worked at the local museum in East London, South Africa found a Coelcanth on a local fishing boat. Later more were discovered in the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean. Eventually coelacanths were filmed by submersibles in 1987 at depths of 150-200m. A living dinosaur! In 2001 and 2007 Coelacaths were discovered by Divers at a depth of 107m in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, recording one of the largest Coelacanths ever seen at about 2m in length.
Bunaken Island is easily reached by boat from Manado and from Manado International Airport you can be on the island in 1.5hrs. Bunaken Island is where we are based and like all the surrounding islands, we are surrounded by massive coral wall drop-offs that reach over 600m deep! These walls start 40m from the beach resort. The greatest attraction about tec diving here is that you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money traveling to dive sites which often take hours to get to. Within 20min from leaving the dive center you will hit the water. We do all onsite gas mixing and offer Air, Nitox, Oxygen and Trimix gasses. We cater for both open circuit and closed circuit re-breather divers. We are able to provide sorb and all bailout tanks needed for re-breather diver needs
Last week we planned and executed our first Coelacanth Exploration dive to 90m. The team consisted of 2 divers going to the maximum depth and searching for possible caves and overhangs where Coelacanths may be found. The dives were planned using open circuit scuba diving with Trimix, Enriched air and oxygen mixes. We spent 15min searching at the maximum depth before making our way on the beautiful coral wall for the remainder of the dive which all together took just over 100min to complete. Unfortunately we did not find any Coelacanths on this attempt. however now we will start a process of elimination of sites until we do find them, because we know for a fact that they are down there somewhere. We’re hoping to find the Coelacanth Colony, gather video and photo images to provide the local Manado University information to increase awareness and conservation efforts for their Coelacanth populations. Plus we simply want learn as much about this creature that has survived mass extinction. To see one up close and personal will be an amazing experience.
More Expeditions are coming up soon!
Written by: Brendon Sing
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bunaken TEC Manager in association with Two Fish Divers
PADI Course Director & TEC Deep / Trimix Instructor Trainer
ISC Megalodon CCR Re-Breather Diver
Founder of Shark Guardian (Non-profit shark conservation organization)