Travelers flying into Gorontalo?s new Jalaluddin Airport from Makassar (Ujung Pandang) to the south have a chance to see the Togian (Togean) Islands from the air. Those sitting on the aircraft?s port (left) side (seat A) can see these jungle-covered gems on the plane?s approach to Gorontalo.
Within a few minutes of take off from Gorontalo bound for Makassar, travelers quickly pass over the steep coastal mountains and cross the equator. Those sitting on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft (seat F) should be able to see the Togian (Togean) Islands, depending on cloud cover. If the weather is clear, even more distant Una-Una is visible. Togian Island?s notorious Colo volcano blew Una-Una apart in July 1983.
During dive season in Gorontalo (November to April), Miguel?s Diving can arrange for double location diving for those who want to dive both sides of the equator, Gorontalo and the Togian (Togean) Islands.
16 Nov 2004
Dear Miguel’s Diving,
I just wanted to write and tell you what a wonderful time I had diving with you in Gorontalo. I have been diving off 3 continents/7 different countries and I have never had as much fun as I did diving in Gorontalo with your crew. The 6 sites I had a chance to dive were spectacular. You guys have it all – beautiful corals, anemones, sponges, rays, eels, shrimps, nudibranchs, and to top it off, “tons” of fish. Even the boat rides out to the sites were fun, since you have calm water and dolphins and flying fish to entertain you on the way.
Your crew was great! The local staff was helpful and polite and your American dive master, Rantje, was the best dive master I’ve been diving with in my 10 years of diving. Diving with Rantje is like having your own private marine biologist along on the trip.
Earlier this year I had contemplated giving up diving after being terribly seasick on yet another dive trip that required long boat rides on choppy seas. I’m glad I didn’t quit. You should advertise your calm seas and target divers who are sick of being seasick!
I enjoyed Gorontalo itself. It was easy to get around and I loved the little horse carriages.
Anna from the USA
Attached are some photos I took on the trip.
Indonesia�s position as the nation with the most biologically diverse waters on earth increased with the announcement of 70 recently discovered fish unknown to science. A month long expedition jointly conducted byIndonesian and Japanese researchers of deep water fishes off the coasts of Sumatra and Java turned up an astonishing number of undescribed fish species. These fish were captured at depths of 400 to 1,100 meters. The Department of Fisheries will be evaluating the commercial viability of fish catches in the areas studied. Two fish species among those caught are believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
The waters of Tomini Bay off Gorontalo are much deeper, dropping to under 4,000 meters. Occasionally, local fishermen will catch some strange deep-water creature like the Armored Gurnard in the photo and contact Miguel�s Diving staff for information. We suspect this particular fish only has aphrodisiac qualities to its own kind.
Seven described flasher wrasse species (Paracheilinus) live in Indonesia waters. Sometimes flasher wrasses are called fairy wrasses, given their magical appearance. Two of the seven are considered endemic to Indonesia. One is the Togean flasher wrasse (P. togeanensis), pale white in color with outlined fin segments. The other is the iridescent Cyan flasher wrasse (P. cyaneus), found in Papua, Kalimantan, and the Togean islands. Both species were named in 1999. But several distinctive ones have been photographed but not yet described scientifically. This includes what is usually called the Hybrid flasher wrasse. This is the one we see at a few dive sites here in Gorontalo.
Photographing this undescribed flasher wrasse requires a certain strategy. Always in small schools, these wrasse stay close to loose rubble along slopes, often ducking for cover if threatened. Only one or two fish in the school will be the spectacular male with tall fins and trailing filaments, which he flashes at regular intervals. This particular specie is also highly territorial. If a patient photographer simply waits, the school of Hybrid fairy wrasse will come right back to the same place. Although we have a photograph of the females, no one has yet to capture the male on film. Since Miguel?s Diving staff knows exactly where these rare beauties live, you can get your shot when diving resumes in November.
When Tomini Bay receives heavy rains, especially from the southwest, humidity clears. This allows people in Gorontalo to see all the way across the huge bay to Central Sulawesi. Rains in early May gave us in eastern Gorontalo a clear look at the islands north of Pagaimana. From western Gorontalo, like the locations of Miguel�s Diving�s recent Coral Preservation Campaign, the Togian (Togean) Islands are visible in similar conditions.
The newest edition of Indonesian Reef Fishes (Kuiter & Tonozuka 2004) includes an undescribed specie of dottyback. The Togean dottyback (Pseudochromis sp.) is thought to be confined to Tomini Bay, Sulawesi, making it endemic to these waters. Rudie Kuiter first noticed this fish during an expedition to the Togian (Togean) Islands in 1994. Photographed in Gorontalo in 2003 by Italian marine biologist Massimo Boyer, this new fish differs from its closest cousin, the Slender dottyback (P. bitaeniatus). Its distinctive features include:
- a white line/fleck in the middle of its tail, and
- a maroon half-moon underneath its eye.
Also, the eye socket appears to have blue edging and the darker band looks deep blue underwater. We have seen this fish at several of our dive sites but only in areas of dense coral growth, such as Gorontalo’s Honeycomb dive site where these pictures were taken. We consistently find it at about five meters depth. A shy fish, it likes to hide in coral crevasses with entrances on two sides, so as to make a hasty retreat.
Tomini Bay is already considered one of Indonesia’s areas of local endemism with six official species of fish considered to live only in these waters (Allen & Adrim 2003). Gorontalo forms its north shores.
This past week Miguel�s Diving staff has been busy with the Coral Preservation Campaign that we conduct in cooperation with Gorontalo Provincial Fisheries Department and the police. This is the third year of our continuing effort to informlocal fishing communities about the need to protect their own reefs against destructive fishing practices. Our staff was wildly received at three high schools with over 1,100 students in attendance. We also spoke with 115 fishermen in three villages and have collected suggestions from them to relay to the governor, who is an avid diver and supporter of sustainable fishing practices.
In cooperation with Black Marlin Dive of the Togian (Togean) Islands, Miguel�s Diving is pleased to offer diving on both sides of the equator in Sulawesi�s huge Tomini Bay. Those diving the Togian (Togean) Islands can dive fringing reefs, a barrier reef, and atolls south of equator. On its north side Gorontalo offers some of everything: dramatic walls, shallow coral gardens, multiple pinnacles, muck diving, and a couple of wrecks as well. This special promotional price is valid from November 2004 to April 2005. Ready to kiss King Neptune�s belly?
Diver�s Dream Package*
Airport pickup in Gorontalo & check into Hotel Melati
Sunday � Wednesday:
8 boat dives with Miguel�s Diving, including tanks, weights, bottled water, and transport
4 nights & 1 extended day @ Hotel Melati (air-conditioned room & breakfast only)
Evening boat to Kadidiri Island, including transport to port, boat ticket, and small cabin
Thursday � Sunday :
7 boat dives & 2 night dives with Black Marlin Dive Resort, including tanks, weights, and dive equipment
4 nights in a beach bungalow with western bathroom and three meals a day
1 morning dive, breakfast & lunch
Afternoon boat back to Gorontalo, including transport to port, boat ticket, and small cabin
Morning arrival in Gorontalo
Transport from port to town and/or airport
Promotional rate: USD$787 twin share including tax
Single supplement: USD$55
*Although this diving package is built around existing flight & boat schedules, Miguel�s Diving is not responsible for changes in these schedules.
One dark and starry night in January a local college professor was ready to quit fishing off the deep-water docks in Gorontalo City. As he reeled in his empty hook, suddenly he snagged something. After patiently bringing his catch to the surface, he discovered that his empty hook had snagged the eye socket of a huge, strange fish. It looked like a silvery, flattened disk with long upper and lower fins but no tail. It measured two meters long! A remora stubbornly stuck to the strange fish�s face. The catch was taken to Gorontalo Provincial Fisheries Department. No one had ever seen such a creature, so they decided to preserve it in a local cold storage facility.
Last week during the Coral Preservation Campaign, local fishermen told Miguel�s Diving staff about the strange catch. After seeing its picture in the Fisheries Department office, we immediately realized it was an Oceanic sunfish (Mola mola). Seen in the oceans since the time of ancient Troy, its Latin name means millstone, since it looks like the flat round stone used for grinding grain into flour. The Oceanic sunfish is the largest bony fish in the ocean, measuring up to three meters and weighing up to two tons. It swims by flapping its long dorsal and ventral fins from side to side. Although pelagic, it is often near the surface. It is most often observed in the wild whilefloating motionless on its side, basking in the sun.
Its huge surface area is an ecosystem for thousands of parasites. Mola molas will come close to coral reefs for cleaning by tropical fish, including bannerfish. Once observers saw a huge sunfish floating on the surface, so that seagulls could pick it clean. The huge fish then flipped over, giving the gulls its other cheek. Mola molas mainly feed on jellyfish and plankton but can blow water to search for food along the substrate. Its hide is up to 15 centimeters thick! Causes of its eventual death are parasites, nets, and great white sharks. It is found in all oceans both tropical and temperate. One of the best places in the world to see this unusual fish is off Nusa Penida in Bali during the summer months. Click this link for great photos of this swimming millstone.
In conjunction with World Environment Day, Miguel?s Diving is sponsoring a public awareness campaign on coral reef preservation. The target audience is fishermen whose livelihood depends on a healthy marine environment. The biggest threat is the practice of making fertilizer bombs to blast fish. Although this results in a huge catch initially, many fish and marine life unsuitable for market die as well. Live coral formations are ruined. This loss of habitat has had dramatic, negative impact on fish catches elsewhere. Fortunately, along the coastline where Miguel?s Diving bring divers, damage is confined only to certain places with many locations untouched.
Our emphasis is the need for local fishermen to guard their own reefs. Along this coastline of Gorontalo, those who fish with bombs are no longer locals but outsiders. As a direct result of this campaign in past years, local fishermen have rowed out to meet outsiders who have entered the area to blast fish. They deliver the message that blast fishing is not allowed in this area designated for marine tourism. They also mention that the governor likes to dive here. As a result, the intruders quickly leave without throwing their bombs. This is a clear victory for local fishermen and their families.
Miguel?s Diving visited five villages this week accompanied by representatives from the Provincial Fisheries Department and law enforcement. Our part of the campaign involves a great flip chart on marine environments courtesy of North Sulawesi?s Bunaken Marine Park, plus a house-of-cards demonstration on the effects of bombing, and samples of different kinds of coral where the coral polyp skeleton is clear. We also leave behind several cartoon, color posters telling the story of a coral reef that is destroyed by bombing. The caption in Indonesian and Gorontalo languages reads, ?Destroying coral reefs destroys the livelihood of fishermen. Don?t let it happen here!?