Documentary destination film Gorontalo Hidden Paradise by Gabor Lowry recently won a second place award at the fifth Eastern Mediterranean International Underwater Photography and Film Festival held earlier this month. Congratulations!
Wise indeed the business traveler who works in a day or so of diving along the way. One such guest of Miguel’s Diving has been diving in Gorontalo five time so far during the current diving season. With 30 something dives here and only three repeated dive sights, her comment “aren’t you running out of dive sights yet?” got the staff to think of some other places she hadn’t been yet. At Sand Pit our sharp-eyed dive guide found a rare Shortpouch pygmy pipehorse. Then at a section of Silvertip Grounds that no one has dived in a couple of years, the five Napo.lean wrasse, patrolling Spanish mackerel and fly-by schools of large Rainbow runners made staff wonder why this site has been neglected. When a morning storm silted up a muck site she hadn’t seen yet, everyone went instead to a previously dived site where the same winds off the ocean brought in a huge pink jelly fish and the juvenile trevally that was pushing it along. And yes, there are still dive sites she hasn’t seen. Yet.
Reasons for avid divers to come to Sulawesi abound. And Gorontalo is one big reason. Today’s diving featuredmillions of Bennett’s tobies (Canthigaster bennetti), a small puffer that is typically seen in pairs in other parts of the world. However, in Gorontalo this fish has seasonal population explosions. Millions and millions of them form wiggling carpets over rubble areas of the reef crest or swim along the wall in thick clouds, reducing the sunlight to whatever is below. Those diving in Gorontalo over the last few days have shot dramatic video of this unusual phenomenon that has only been reported in another area of Sulawesi’s huge Tomini Bay, the remote volcanic island of Una-una. Miguel’s Diving staff believe this is spawning activity. Soon, most of the fish will begin to die and populations will return to normal.
Unlike other diving locations in Sulawesi, Gorontalo is not known for fast currents. However, Gorontalo has a variety of marine environments and Miguel’s Diving is starting to explore a submerged point previously passed by. Today in25-meter visibility, intrepid divers ventured along the long wall toward the point. Unusual for Gorontalo, the wall lacks the dense covering of coral and instead is dusted with white sand. Below a broad sandy shelf sprinkled with turban corals juts perpendicularly from the wall before falling into darkness. With the current starting to pick up and safety stop complete, other divers surfaced. However, in the face of a ripping current Miguel’s Diving dive master stayed down and worked his way between boulders and bommies at the 6-meter deep reef flat. Pulling himself to the edge of the wall, he was greeted by a gathering of nine Napo.lean wrasse, schools of large unicornfish, meter-long rainbow runners, a fast school of small tuna, clouds of Redtooth triggers and a school of Bluefin trevally heading toward the point but having to negotiate a way around all those over-sized Napole.ans. All of these passed within a few meters of his face and that was the fish action visible only from clinging to the reef flat! Hanging off the wall would require a hook. Once again diving in Gorontalo measures up to the expectation of Sulawesi’s world-class diving.