In the midst of repairing Miguel’s Diving web site that was destroyed by a nasty hacker, we have also posted information and pictures for one of Gorontalo’s most distinctive dive sites: Sponge Wall. We have taken guests diving here for a couple of seasons but just found some time to create a new post. As a result to damage to our web site, the partial species list pages are not working. We will probably not be rebuilding these pages since it is proving extremely time consuming. But you can enjoy the Sponge Wall dive site before you dive here by selecting it under the Dive Site menu.
Fisher friends off a point where Miguel’s Diving offers some dive sites were catching large Yellowfin tuna for export early this morning. They were in the process of hauling in an 81-kilo tuna when a large shark decided it wanted breakfast. A tug of war ensued between the two fishermen and the shark. Eventually, men were able to haul their fish into their small outrigger canoe. The shark kept swimming around the boat looking for the missing tuna. It was a Shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), measuring almost three meters long. Ironically, fishermen here call it the “Tuna-tail shark” because of the distinctive shape of its tail.
Sea pens are a special group of octocorals that live in sandy bottoms. A sea pen has a foot that keeps it anchored into the sand and an above ground rod that contains the feeding coral polyps. Many sea pens are beautifully branched, creating a shape reminiscent of a quill pen. Although most are nocturnal, some emerge from the sand during the day. One of Gorontalo’s muck sites is home to at least four very different species of sea pens. Only one of them appears in marine life books, the large Lemon sea pen (Pteroeides sp.).
A photograph of one sea pen caught the eye of a researcher friend, its maroon axis edged with white spicules. Miguel’s Diving staff knows right where a large patch of these emerge on overcast days. Of the sea pen species found here, this maroon one tends to host more marine life than others. To help our friend, we braved rough surf to locate these unusual soft corals. On the maroon ones, we found at least two species of commensal crabs hiding amongst the branches, a shrimp or two, and a very active maroon worm. With the surge being felt as deep as 20 meters, none of the pictures of the maroon beauties were in focus. Over the next two months, the winds will shift to the west, leaving calm seas and other opportunities to visit these beautiful corals.