Beautiful Carnation soft corals at Bunaken are especially nice when the sun hits them and you get to see their vibrant colours. They are found in the Soft coral family (Nephtheidae) under the genus Dendronephthya. They add a flower garden effect to coral reefs and small shrimps, crabs and fish use the soft coral as protection from their predators.
Soft corals are similar to hard corals as they are also a colony of animals. Each flowery section on the soft coral is a single animal (polyp) and they are connected each other by living tissue. If you have a look closely while you are scuba diving each polyp has eight feathery tentacles which filter plankton and algae out of the water column. They can sting in a similar way to anemones and jellyfish and use this to catch some of their food. They can be in a range of colors from pink, purple, red, orange to yellow but if you are heading deeper than ten meters it helps to have a light source to be able to see their true colors.
Unfortunately the worlds soft corals are on the decline as they are very sensitive to changes in water chemistry, we do however still see a lot of these in Indonesia on our wall dives especially in the cracks and crevices and under ledges. Occasionally we find some weird and wonderful creatures hiding in between the flowers like shrimps and tiny brittle sea stars so keep your mask clear when you are exploring the reef.
This week in Bunaken Fransiska, Pascal, Akina, Anna and Tom finished their PADI Open Water Course with Maia and loved seeing the diversity of fish and corals all over the reef. Phil and Gene came for dive training and became PADI Advanced Open Water Divers including learning how to ID fish with their instructor Gregor. They even saw a ghost pipe fish on their first fun dives after their course. Jean-Marc and Violette had some great diving during their stay even getting a special night dive and mandarin dive in near the end. David and Liga also saw new things on every dive as well as getting some cool underwater photos of turtles napping on ledges.
Alongside all the other PADI courses happening here our PADI Course Director is running a Two Fish IDC in Bunaken. The Instructor Development Course is in full swing and has been almost two weeks packed full of fun and practice in the classroom, pool and ocean for the students. Whenever you look they are always hard at work either with their noses in their manuals studying, practicing presentations, asking questions to their instructors or tying knots onto chairs. Dive Manager Colin is joining in with the fun while aiming to achieve his Staff Instructor rating. What else would you expect from a 5 Star PADI IDC Resort?
It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the exciting activities happening here at Two Fish but no matter what day it is the Beautiful Carnation Soft Corals at Bunaken are always adding vibrant colours to the reef and pretty flower gardens to every dive.