Karang Bahar is located on the southwest of Pulau Lang Tengah, almost at the southernmost edge of the island itself. The dive site is located just off the beach of Pasir Mat Hassan and D'Coconut Lagoon Resort. As in our case, the dive boat took some 5 minutes to get from the dive centre at Redang Lang Island Resort to Karang Bahar.
There are no rocky promontory or boulder rock to mark the dive site, except for a buoy line marker from which the dive boat will get attached to before divers can descend. The line marker itself should be the guide to get down to at least 20 metres of depth before you start to see anything down below.
With an uninteresting weather in August 2007 with overcast skies that showed no sign of abating, indeed I had a rather low expectation for the dive. What more with the descend down guided the buoy line with complete dark-blue nothingness. That being said, it was quite a much-needed welcome dive from the murky green waters that I experienced about a month earlier back at TAR Marine Park in Kota Kinabalu. Only after descending down to some 20 metres depth that I started to see a thing or two, and boy, how pleasantly surprised I was!
The bottom depth is marked by a medium-sized boulder rock which probably makes the whole reef system of Karang Bahar. Despite its size, the variety of marine life is outstanding. It is a surprise to see a dive site in a little-known island like Pulau Lang Tengah could offer such varying underwater landscape. I was greeted by a thick concentration of black coral bushes (Antipathes sp.) which is a rather rare finding on this side of the country. There are also other species of soft and hard coral to be found here, such as branching gorgonian sea fans (Melithaea sp.), octopus corals (Tubestrea miracantha), whip gorgonians (Junceella sp.), saucer-like leather corals (Sarcophyton sp.), carpet anemones (Heteractis aurora), barrel sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria), etc. The black coral bushes are particularly interesting as they fashion into some sort of garden playground for various types of fish.
The selection of soft and hard corals is good, but what makes Karang Bahar arguably the best dive site in Pulau Lang Tengah is the surprising arrays of marine fish that one can find in such a small area. At the buoy line itself was a lonesome fang blenny (Meiacanthus vittatus) which seemed to welcome the divers during descent and ascent. Throughout the dive, a big school of big-eye snapper (Lutjanus lutjanus) often made its appearance and truly created a lively underwater scene over the reef. Occasionally a smaller school of lined snapper (Lutjanus sp.) make its presence felt as well in a slightly less spectacular fashion. The rarest finding, however, had to go for a group of blue-lined snapper (Lutjanus kasmira) which was not exactly camera-shy. Between the boulder openings, one could find a school of blood-drop squirrelfish (Neoniphon sammara). Other than that, the fish species that can be found here are two-line spinecheeck (Scolopsis bilineatus), Clark's anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii), schooling cardinalfish (Apogon sp.), lined rabbitfish (Siganus lineatus), longfin bannerfish (Heniochus acuminatus), star pufferfish (Arothron stellatus), blue-lined coral grouper (Cephalopholis formosa), blue-ringed angelfish (Pomacanthus annularis), etc. Depending on your luck, you may also come across blue-spotted ribbontail stingray (Taeniura lymma) and grey-faced moray eel (Gymnothorax thyrsoideus), and scrutinising between the rock openings like my divemaster did can be rewarded with the sightings of banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) and hinge-beak shrimp (Rhynchocinetes durbanensis).
Karang Bahar was truly a great dive for me and it simply took away the morgue scene of drizzle and grey skies up above. For the unique bush garden of black corals as well as the outstanding marine fish selections that can be found, this dive site is a must-try if you ever get to Pulau Lang Tengah.