• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Yearly Archives: 2009

Trip Report: Belajardiving.com

For those who read Indonesian, there is a complete report on diving, transport and other activities from a happy group of divers from belajardiving.com. This marks the group’s first trip to this part of Sulawesi where diving is world class. Even if you don’t know Indonesia, the accompanying photos are very good, including an awesome shot of a 2-meter long Salvador Dali sponge that looks like a shark, albeit with surreal, bronze skin. Click this link.

Life under the surface of the sea

Lavendar Jellyfish KaufikA rare wind off the deep ocean brought unusual marine life right to the edge of Gorontalo’s reefs this week. During one surface interval between dives, guests watched inch-long baby barracudas, various swimming crabs and immature filefish. On a floating clump of Sargassum weed was an unusual nudibranch whose gills imitated the shape of weed bulbs. Clinging to another was a cute Sargassum frogfish. During a safety stop divers enjoyed a rarely seen 30-cm long jellyfishwith beautiful lavender tentacles. This photo was taken by Kaufik of belajardiving.com using a wide-angle lens just under the surface of the sea.

New Species Found in Gorontalo

Emperor Akihito goby WTMiguel’s Diving staff have discovered a striking new species of fantail goby. Named after the Japanese emperor in 2005 by Allen & Randall, the Akihito goby (Exyrias akihito) sports a dorsal fin with three majestic fin rays and a row of double brown spots on its side. Unlike the other three species of fantail gobies, it is found in clear waters around coral reefs rather than the mud bottoms preferred by the others. Its 10-centimeter length makes it quite large for a goby. All specimens for the scientific study were captured at depths below 40 meters and donated by Emperor Akihito. However, the ones available in Gorontalo live at a comfortable 15 meters. Thanks to William Tan for the first pictures! To see a larger version of William’s photo complete with impressive dorsal ray, please click the thumbnail.


Violence on the Reef

The pristine reefs of Gorontalo have shocked recent divers with reality. On the massive pinnacle we call Sunken Island divers saw the remaining half of a cushion star – and the mature trumpet shell that had just eaten half of it!

On another section of reef a coconut shell octopus disproved the notion that anemones protect decorator hermit crabs that hide under their stinging fingers. Divers watched the quick work the octopus made of one crab by carefully turning the crab shell so as to avoid the anemones and then with two other arms simply rip the helpless crab out and gobble it down!

Imagine hearing the scream of our dive master. He was watching a large and unusual sea hare nudibranch lumber over the sand when suddenly the head of a large bobbitt worm lunged out of the sand, its four jaws spread wide open, grabbed the nudi and began dragging it under the sand.

XRAY Magazine book review

The current edition of the on-line diving magazine XRAY (#32) features a review of our book Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise. The full review is available on Section III page 55.

Here is an excerpt:

A fantastic coffee table book by Gorontalo dive pioneer Rantje Allen, Gorontalo Hidden Paradise says it all. Gorontalo is located in north Sulawesi and is recently becoming the hottest dive destination in Indonesia.

It features superb photographs by world renowned underwater photographers William Tan, Takako Uno and Stephen Wong (their names alone are justification to buy this book).

Flat Seas, Surface Winds, Traditional Divers

Miguel’s Diving staff have been busy the last four days assisting the filming of a Gorontalo episode of the children’s adventure show “Bocan (Bocah Petualang)” for Trans7 television. Today’s underwater sequence went well with shooting of village children in hand-made traditional goggles swimming and diving the coral garden in front of their homes.

With the change in seasons, seas are generally flat but with a stiff surface wind.

Sport Diving Cover

Congratulations to William Tan for his cover photo on the current edition of Sport Diving (Issue 136). It is a colourful face shot of a male Randall’s anthias and taken here in Gorontalo. Anyone who has encountered this frenetic fish will appreciate the great challenge to get any of it in focus, let alone its teeth plate!

William Tan General Underwater Photography Skills Course

Imagine learning to shoot from award-winning underwater photographer William Tan in the equatorial waters of Gorontalo, Indonesia’s hidden paradise! Classroom sessions will include understanding equipment limitations, shooting skills, underwater etiquette, composition and wide angle challenges. Participants will dive in rotating pairs with William on one day; on other days William will be available on board after diving for advice and trading stories. Evening sessions with him will focus on shooting problems with review of photos taken that day. The five-day course will run 6 to 11 November and include five nights with full board at Gorontalo Oasis Hotel, 11 dives with Miguel’s Diving and airport transfers in Gorontalo for USD565 per person twin/double share.

Gorontalo itself provides an incredible variety of marine environments for photographers to hone their skills. Pristine coral walls, multiple pinnacles, caverns, muck, current swept submerged points and wrecks are all available within a short travel time. In addition to new and endemic species, the likes of boxer crabs and anemonefish eggs are usually available for macro photographers. Gorontalo’s unique and gigantic Salvador Dali sponges with their surreal surfaces are trophies for the wide-angle enthusiast.

5 nights @ Gorontalo Oasis Hotel (air-conditioned room & full board)
11 dives (tanks, weights, bottled water, transport)
Airport transfers in Gorontalo
Photography skills course
Excluding air fares, dive equipment

No Off Season for Fish

This morning Miguel’s Diving staff took a much need break from above ground activities that keep us busy during off season. Even though we left the dock prior to 7 a.m. before the winds start, the swells in the river mouth were 1.5 meters and one wave entered the boat, making rinsing the boat easy since the water was already there! The goal was to clean up some crown-of-thorns at a nearby reef that we had noticed late in the diving season. During the thirty minute dive, staff only found 10, which were removed and buried on land. Despite the surface conditions, the reef was lovely. A school of yellowtail barracudas flashed in the morning light as they attacked smaller fish. A large Blue-spotted puffer with a remora attached watched from a crevasse. A few days earlier near the local marine park, a whale shark ploughed back and forth across of surface chasing minnows while mobula rays jumped in the bay.