Bornella anguilla

Nudis that are off the wall! Dive site review: Alex Point

Dive site review: Alex Point

Giant frogfish

Giant frogfish (Antennarius commersonii)

Briefing
Site type: Wall and rubbly reef
Location: Sulawesi mainland
Distance from resort: 4.5km
Max depth: 18m
Main attractions: Soft coral covered wall crawling with nudis. Japanese WW2 unexploded mine!

Summary
A wall to 13m covered in the most gorgeous varieties of soft corals that harbours a wealth of interesting nudibranchs and even blue ringed octopus! The seaward reef slopes very gently to a rubbly fringe which contains amazing types of pipefish and frogfish. An unexploded mine makes for an interesting waypoint too. Great for Open Water certified divers due to the shallow depth.

Above the waves

Nudibranch glossodoris

Nudibranch (Glossodoris rufomarginatus)

Nestled in a sheltered bay on the mainland of Sulawesi, Alex Point is easy to pass by; a narrow rocky inlet to a small beach and a sheer cliff to one side doesn’t look like it harbours one of the more interesting sites on the Sulawesi mainland. However when the boat pulls up near the cliff and you look over the side you can clearly see the coral on the shallow reef below. Alex Point enjoys great year round visibility.

Going below

Painted frogfish Antennarius pictus

Painted frogfish (Antennarius pictus) lurks with its lure

Entering near the small beach onto the scattered bommies of coral and rock in only 4m of water you can poke around for ribbon eels and signathids in the sandy patches. Following the slope of the reef to seaward it becomes increasingly rubbly and strewn with algae and halimeda. Here dive guides can uncover all kinds of cryptic and camouflaged critters; the similarity to some of the more gravelly Lembeh sites is notable.

Spiny devilfish and tiny juvenile cuttlefish lurk in the crevices while pipefish sway on the bottom. The cute shortpouch pygmy pipehorse has also been seen clinging to hydroids near the bigger rocks. Turning left along the reef and then making your way up the reef to the base of the wall looming out of the gloom the coral gives way to fine gravel where unconcerned nudis streak in vibrant colours across the bottom. The wall is the main attraction with 12 vertical metres to zig zag your way up.

Nudibranch

Swimming nudibranch (Bornella anguilla) on the wall

Its best enjoyed at a super-slow pace; most of what is here is well camouflaged and/or fairly small so patience is well rewarded. The fantastic free-swimming nudibranch Bornella anguilla (pictured right) is found here, one of the few nudis to move so fast and to have small eyes at the head. Other nudis include the flamboyant Flabellina exoptata which cling to swaying hydroids. The wall also features several large elephant ear sponges which sometimes house giant frogfish (pictured top).

Do say: Another twenty minutes on the wall please!
Don’t say: Less colour please