This is a weird but rewarding dive site and a favorite for patient underwater photographers. It features coral spurs protruding down steep white sand slopes, unusual for Sulawesi diving. These become gigantic wall spurs towards the point and plunge deeply into the channel. The shallow reef flat is much broader than at other Gorontalo dive sites and has scattered hard corals, rocks, and rocky substrate where Ridged Leather and Mushroom Leather corals (Lobophytum spp. and Sacrophyton spp.) grow. Below the reef flat is a slope, sometimes gentle, sometimes steep. Its coral cover becomes excellent toward the point. Damage to coral is more apparent here than at other dive sites. This has opened up habitat to marine life, such as large numbers of lionfish and Ribbon eels (Rhinomuraena quaesita), which prefer shallow rubble to pristine coral. Since substrate for coral and encrusting marine life is extremely limited in Gorontalo, openings in the coral thicket provide places for new life to grow, as this reef proves. Also, various nudibranchs are more commonly found here. Another reason to dive this site is to see the patches of Spotted garden eels (Heteroconger hassi) that are not present at most other sites in Gorontalo. No other dive site here has features similar to this one.
This site is about 400 meters long.
Depth: 3 - 30 meters
Highlights: lionfish, garden eels, ribbon eel, sea turtle, barracuda, large triggerfishes, numerous parrotfishes, dramatic spur-and-grove coral terrain
Conditions: Because of the sand bottom, visibility is rarely fantastic, typically runs 10 meters, but can range between three and 30 meters! Any wave action will stir up the sand, as will cold upwellings from the channel and careless fin kicks. Sometimes a light current will run at the point.
Special Note: The beautiful fins on those lionfish are extremely venomous; do not touch! Also, avoid resting body parts on the sand, especially your hands. Use your console gauge to anchor in the sand while watching the lionfish and garden eels.
The dive begins among scattered coral and sand. Almost immediately numerous lionfish come into view. Their long dorsal spines and pectoral fins quiver like banners in the breeze. Some of the fish are quite large; others clearly small juveniles. A large triggerfish rushes up the sand slope to look at the invading humans before quickly turning and disappearing down the slope. On cloudy days, sea pens will emerge from their homes in the sand to unfurl their feather-like polyps to feed.
After swimming along the boundary between coral rock and sand, divers slowly skirt a patch of garden eels that are poking their heads out of the sand. Numerous large parrotfish travel back and forth over the coral slope above. After crossing two small spurs of coral and past clumps of large branching Acropora, divers approach a line of blackness. Suddenly visibility clears and a wall of dense coral looms directly in front. This spur rises sharply from the sand bottom and plunges into the darkness below.
After rounding this spur, divers cruise the crest of a series of spurs poking down into the sand like giant toes. Rounding one tall spur, divers may encounter the shy resident Blue-spotted puffer (Arothron caeruleopunctatus). Given its large size, it is hard to believe that this species remained unnoticed until being named in 1994. Divers pass the first of several sand channels spilling down the slope, and then see a long strand of discarded cable draped from the top of a pinnacle to the slope, its length already decorated with sponges and tunicates.
When the dive gauge indicates time to ascend to a higher level, turn back and take the passage between a pinnacle and the slope. Enjoy the delightful shallow coral garden teeming with fish during the safety stop.