Guests diving in Gorontalo on Christmas Eve day enjoyed quite a show. On the first dive we watched asquadron of eight pygmy mantas, probably Shortfin devil rays (Mobula kuhlii), which are common here. On the same dive a Black-tip reef shark and large Nap.olean wrasse made appearances. Two other Napo.lean wrasse came up from the deep to check out divers on the second dive. But the main attraction was the cuttlefish. A large and very pregnant female was inserting eggs into coral while a large male waited. However, he had to keep chasing off a small male that seemed determined to get in on the action.
Several days ago another sunfish showed up in the river mouth where Miguel’s Diving ties the dive boat. About this time last year a similar one appeared. Both fish were caught by hook at night during the dark moon. We sent a cutting of the first one to an international Mola mola researcher. DNA testing identified it as Masturus lanceolatus, the Sharp-tailed Sunfish, which is less common that the usual Oceanic Sunfish or Mola mola. As its name implies, the one found in Gorontalo has a small sharp tail, whereas the regular Mola mola has none at all.
Congratulations to Suzannah Browning! This tall blonde member of Singapore’s Free Flow Divers entered its first underwater photography competition. We just learned that a photo she took while diving here with friends over last Chinese New Year holidays won Overall Winner. The photo shows two pregnant Sarasvati shrimps, one of the new species available in Gorontalo. If you have a copy of FiNS magazine‘s September/October 2005 issue, turn to page 59.
That is marine researcher Leyla Knittwise’s reaction after only a single dive in Olele Bay, Gorontalo. Leyla along with the rest of the Wallacea Expedition Indonesia II team recorded 136 coral species and 160 species of fish during a single dive in mid-August. She said that Olele has notably higher marine biodiversity when compared to other locations surveyed during this expedition, including areas in western Gorontalo.
Coral researcher Dr. Jamaluddin Jompa from Makassar, Sulawesi’s Hasanuddin University said, “Try to imagine the relative narrow coral reef here having such an abundant variety of coral and marine life!” Expedition coordinator Syafyuddin Yusuf said that Olele stands out from other diving locations in Indonesia. He particularly noted the unique ocean topography of Olele, including caves and huge crevasses, a certain draw for world class divers seeking to enjoy natural beauty below the sea. (Since all Miguel’s Diving staff was out of the area at the time, the Wallacea team missed the towering coral pinnacles that make Olele famous to those who have been diving with us.)
The Wallacea team was impressed with how easily large Napol.ean wrasse were to find. They credit efforts by Olele villagers in protecting this fish and their narrow reef. Butterflyfishes are considered a key indicator of reef health. The number of butterfly species found and their abundance puts the health of Olele above coral reefs found in other parts of Sulawesi, including Bunaken Island, Takabonerate Atoll, Togian Islands, and Spermonde Archipelago.
This web post came from an article in Gorontalo Post 16 August 2005.
In early May the carcass of a Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) washed onto the reef in west Gorontalo. Miguel’s Diving staff made a whirlwind trip to the remote location. We found the whale in about one meter of water, laying on its side, and barely floating on top of the reef. Weestimate its length to be 12 meters. The carcass was in an advanced state of decay, giving new meaning to the phrase “bloated whale.” Evidently the current brought the carcass into shallow waters.
Although local fishermen had never seen a sperm whale, Miguel’s Diving boatman Sahir had seen one swim under his small fishing boat in the Togian Islands where he was raised. Sperm whales have a very distinctive head and jaw. The lower jaw has a row of conical teeth that can weigh up to a kilo each. Our intrepid dive master swam down to inspect the jaw and discovered that local Bajo fishermen had already removed the teeth.
We are sending a small chip of jawbone to a cetacean research center for analysis. We are told that sperm whales often die in combat with deep-sea squid, their favorite meal.