Diving in Manado: the Sponge Forest

Diver admiring the yellow sponges

Diving on our house reef in Manado is always surprising and different. One feature that makes the site so unique is the “sponge forest”. Here you will find yellow elephant ear sponges gathering.

After jumping in the water from our jetty, a swim of 50 meters takes you to the buoy that marks the start of the dive.

The first thing you see is our humble little artificial reef, lying next to an old overgrown car chassis and from here, you swim across to Thalassa Rock, a size-able rock with all kinds of life happening around it.

However, in this post we want to show you the main event… 

Diving with flashlight above yellow sponges
Photo: Steven Weinberg

First approach…

As you slowly swim forward, dim shapes start to appear in the haze. First they’re green, but as you get closer they turn bright yellow. The landscape unfolds before your eyes, and then it appears as if you’re an explorer in some strange alien world.

These are Lanthella Basta, also known as paper or scroll sponges. We like to call them yellow sponges, because of color reasons. 

Sponges posses no nervous, digestive or excretory systems, and feed by filtering suspended bacteria and fine detritus. Strong water movement is vital to them, not only for carrying food to these sessile creatures but also to carry waste and unused matter away. In fact, a sponge the size of a baseball can filter about fifty gallons of water per hour!

Underwater above the sponges
Photo: Steven Weinberg

Diving in Manado: the magical sponge forest

The unique thing about our house reef’s sponges is that they all congregate on a fairly large area in the Manado Bay. Most of these sponges live in small clumps, so it’s quite uncommon to see them together like this.

The “sponge forest” is a protected diving area right on our doorstep in Thalassa Manado. I highly recommend you take at least one dive there during your stay to experience the magic yourself.

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Picture of Arjen Bokhoven

Arjen Bokhoven

I'm a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, I do guest relations and resort management at Thalassa Dive Resorts Indonesia. Whether I'm diving the walls of Bunaken to spot schools of fish & turtles, or explore the sandy flats of Lembeh with its fascinating underwater creatures- I love all of it.

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