• 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: 2014

Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia Features Gorontalo

Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia magazine selected Gorontalo as its featured destination in its final 2014 edition.

Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia Magazine

Finding peace with Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia
Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia features Gorontalo

This premier dive magazine is published five times a year. Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia is written in Bahasa Indonesia. It works in partnership with the English language edition. Ibu Jilm Astina and Bapak Arief Yudo Wibowo direct the Indonesian edition. This husband and wife team seek to publish a fresh magazine for the modern diver. They have also been diving in Gorontalo.

Gorontalo as Featured Destination

Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia has devoted six pages to Gorontalo. The article was written by Rantje Allen of Miguel’s Diving. The article explains the mystery and uniqueness of Gorontalo diving. It also describes the effect of diving in Gorontalo on the modern diver. Leaving the busy world behind, divers find beauty and tranquility. Divers departing Gorontalo take beautiful pictures home along with a refreshed spirit. Anticipation for a return trip is part of the Gorontalo diving experience.

Gorontalo photos in Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia
View of Olahutakiki, Gorontalo

Photographs for the article were taken by Ibu Sofi Sugiharto. Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia magazine has published her photographic works from other destinations. She dived with Miguel’s Diving Gorontalo in November 2013. The opening double page photo is a colorful shot of a small cove in Gorontalo. Locals call this location “Olahutakiki.” Also selected for the article in Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia is a split shot taken at Hidden Beach.

Gorontalo provides fantastic opportunity for wide angle photography. Included in the Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia article is a photo of one of Gorontalo’s famous Salvador Dali sponges. Three of Ibu Sofi’s macro photographs from Gorontalo were selected for the Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia article. One is a baby batfish hovering in a sunburst. Two others are a Saron shrimp and a Boxer crab.

Additional Recommendations

Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia magazine also features “Photo of the Month.” The winner for Wide Angle went to Reyner Onggara. It shows an albino Salvador Dali sponge with a cavern opening as backdrop. It was taken during Reyner’s most recent trip to Gorontalo. Scuba Diver Australasia Indonesia’s Dive Junkie section chats with Marischka Prudence. She gives a “thumbs-up” to diving in Gorontalo.

For your chance to find tranquility in Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us.

Goa Jin – Gorontalo Dive Site yang misterius

Gorontalo merupakan tempat penyelaman yang termasuk paling baru dibanding Kepulauan Togian, Taman Nasional Bunaken dan Lembeh. Gorontalo sendiri mempunyai 38 tempat penyelaman yang sudah mempunyai nama. Masing-masing tempat sangat berbeda termasuk Goa Jin.

Bentuk Goa Jin

Gorontalo Dive Site
Suasana Goa Jin sangat misterius

Goa Jin terletak kurang lebih 500 meter dari Desa Olele bagian timur. Mengapa sampai dinamakan Goa Jin? Karena bentuk Goa Jin ini sama seperti dengan bentuk goa yang terdapat di darat yang oleh masyrakat setempat diberi nama Goa Jin sehingga tempat penyelaman ini diberi nama yang sama.
Goa Jin ini sangat besar, bahkan para penyelampun tidak sadar bahwa mereka sudah masuk di dalam goa. Di dalam Goa Jin terdapat dua tiang karang yang disampingnya terdapat cela yang sangat sempit sehigga di dalamnya terasa gelap dan misterius. Apalagi kalau kita menyelam pada pagi hari dan sore hari.

Banyak penyelam yang suka dengan tempat ini tidak pernah merasa bosan menyelam di tempat ini, meskipun berulang-ulang kali. Bahkan ada tamu yang mengatakan bahwa tempat ini mirip dengan film kartun Naruto yang tebing-tebingnya mirip dengan yang ada di film tersebut.

Biota Laut di Goa Jin

 sponge Salvador Dali
Sponge Salvador Dali dalam Goa Jin

Bentuk Goa Jin ini terbelah di atas kurang lebih satu meter dari permukaan laut. Dasarnya 35-40 meter. Di 30 meter kita bisa melihat black coral bush, seafan dan sponge-sponge besar, termasuk Salvador Dali. Sponge ini hanya terdapat di Gorontalo. Di tempat manapun di dunia tidak memiliki sponge semacam ini. Bahkan Lembeh, Manado dan Teluk Buyat tidak memiliki Salvador Dali sponge, padahal tempat-tempat itu masih satu lautan dengan Gorontalo.

Ke arah kiri Goa Jin kita juga bisa melihat goa-goa kecil yang bisa masuk dan keluar. Goa ini sangat bagus juga untuk difoto dan ke arah kiri juga kita bisa melihat tanjung di bawah permukaan laut. Tanjung sepert ini merupakan satu ciri khas Gorontalo di mana Gorontalo banyak memiliki tanjung-tanjung di bawah permukaan laut.

Menyelam di Goa Jin sangat aman dan menikmati sekali karena di tempat ini hampir tidak ada arus. Di dalam Goa Jin para penyelam bisa melihat binatang-binatang kecil, seperti orangutan crab, Colemani shrimp, soft coral crab, Sarasvati shrimp, lionfish dan bermacam-macam nudibranch.

Goa Jin adalah tempat favorit saya. Ayo, teman-teman para penyelam, datanglah ke Gorontalo. Kita akan menikmati bersama-sama surga bawa laut yang tersembunyi yang ada di Gorontalo. Tolong mengurus bookingan langsung dari Miguel’s Diving. Saya berjanji kalian pasti akan senang menyelam di Gorontalo, apalagi menyelam di Goa Jin.
Oleh Yunis Olele

Mobile Devices Compatibility

Mobile devices are increasingly used by divers to locate the best scuba diving available.

Divers Using Mobile Devices

Although Miguel’s Diving has been operating for over a decade in the same pristine reefs of Gorontalo, Sulawesi, our diving guests are on the move. Smart phone use has exploded since we opened twelve years ago. So, we have launched a new web site that is compatible with mobile devices. Mobile and tablet users already account for over 30% of traffic to our home page. That percentage is projected to rise, particularly among Asian and European divers. They make up the majority of its customer base.

Web Site Designed for Traveling Divers

Miguel's Diving  web site seen onmobile devices
Miguel’s Diving home page appears on a smart phone

The web site has several key features that are important to traveling divers. It focuses on the uniqueness of Gorontalo diving. Underwater landscapes are a powerful draw. Photographs on the web site clearly show the dramatic nature of diving in Gorontalo. These photos are now formatted with mobile devices in mind.

Endemic and new species are another feature of Gorontalo’s marine environment. Miguel’s Diving staff discovered Salvador Dali sponges in our first year of operation. The unique, surreal carving on these sponges can only be seen along the northern coastline of Tomini Bay. Other unique marine life is highly localized. Miguel’s Diving staff knows the few locations where endemic Blue Belly Blennies live!

Another clear reason to dive in Gorontalo is the variety of diving environments. Dive sites include coral walls, multiple pinnacles, mysterious caverns, submerged points, historical wrecks, muck and even an atoll. The web site organizes dive sites based on marine environment. Miguel’s Diving provides professional guides and custom-built speed boats for maximum enjoyment.

Links Just a Click Away

The re-tooled web site also provides other links for Miguel’s Diving. Our Facebook page contains the latest news, photos and interaction with guests. Our likes exceed 11,000. Potential guests with mobile devices can now jump to Trip Advisor postings for Miguel’s Diving Gorontalo. There is even a button to access our YouTube page.
For more information, please contact us at info@miguelsdiving.com or call +62 852 4004 7027 from your mobile device.

Basket Stars on Gorontalo night dives

Basket stars can be observed on night dives in Gorontalo.

Symmetrical Beauty

The most common basket stars are white.
Basket stars have an amazing array of tendrils

Basket stars are beautiful marine invertebrates. Starfish and brittle stars are their distant relatives. They have a central disk and arms branching from it. The arms are many times the diameter of the central disk, which looks small in comparison. The number of arms is hard to count because each arm has countless tendrils. These tendrils are the main identifying feature of basket stars. They also possess radial symmetry. These features give them immense beauty and balance.

Nocturnal Feeders

Baby basket stars hide during the day
A baby basket star hides in a soft coral

Basket stars sleep during the day. They curl under corals and hide in crevices. Notice the baby basket star in the picture. It is hiding among the branches of a Dendronephthya soft coral. After the reef becomes dark, basket stars climb on top of a hard coral to search for the current. They extend their arms and tendrils into the current, waiting ensnare some small organism. They eat plankton, worms and tiny fish. Something that drifts in the current and touches a tendril will be quickly ensnared. The basket star will grip its prey tightly and then secrete mucous that helps to immobilize its dinner. A basket star feeds itself by putting the prey directly into its mouth. The mouth is like a comb that extracts the food. Then it pulls its arm and tendrils back out of its mouth. The mouth is located beneath the central disk. Miguel’s Diving provides advice on current diving.

Basket Stars in Gorontalo

Watching basket stars during a night dive is fascinating. Notice in the video how delicate are the movements of the tendrils and arms. With so many arms to use, basket stars can move rather quickly. Miguel’s Diving staff typically finds three species of basket stars on a night dive. The most common ones are white (Astroboa nuda). Occasionally, divers will spot a black one (Astroboa granulatus). In recent years, two new species of shrimps living on Astroboa basket stars have been described from the Moluccas.

Orang Heart basket stars are yet undesrbied
An Orange Heart basket star feeds at night

The second most common basket star found here is actually an undescribed species. Because of its beautiful color, we affectionately call it the Orange Heart Basket Star. For your chance to observe these beautiful creatures for yourself, please book your dive trip with us.

Side Gilled Sea Slugs of the Night

Side gilled sea slugs are a delight to find during night diving in Gorontalo.

Nocturnal Sea Slugs

Grand side gilled sea slugs
A Grand side gilled sea slug crawls the sea floor looking for prey

Nudibranchs usually have their gills exposed on the top of their bodies. But side gilled sea slugs have large plume-like gills tucked between the mantle and the foot. The gills are usually on the right side. They mostly live in shallow waters on sand and rubble bottoms. That makes the perfect location for lucky divers to find them. These slugs crawl the sea floor at night looking for tunicates, anemones and invertibrates. They have a pair of rolled rhinophores that sense chemicals and water current. They have strong jaws and wide mouths and can even eat a sleeping fish! This type of sea slug secretes sulfuric acid when disturbed.

Grand Side Gilled Sea Slugs

The most commonly seen side gilled slug is Pleurobranchus grandis. It can grow up to 21 cm, the size of a dinner plate! Its color pattern varies. However, this slug has three red bands that contrast with its other colors. See Alain Guillard’s photo taken at Sand Bowl dive site in Gorontalo.

Forskal’s Side Gilled Sea Slugs

Forskal's side gilled sea slugs
A young Forskal’s sea slug points its rhinophores forward

The beautiful Pleurobrachus forskali is named after a Finnish naturalist. Pehr Forskal was a student of Linnaeus, who recommended that King Frederick V of Denmark appoint the young Forskal to join an expedition to Arabia. While he was busy writing his book on the Flora of Egypt & Arabia, he contracted malaria. He died in 1763 in present-day Yemen. This sea slug is one of three life forms named after him.
Its color varies widely from dark plum red to peach to brown. The only consistent element of its pattern is the white semicircles that outline bumps on its mantle. Both P. grandis and P. forskali arch their mantles when moving. This forms a spout towards the rear of the slug, clearly visible in Albert Hartono’s photo of a young Forskal sea slug taken at Old Port dive site. This spout channels water and feces away from the slug as it travels.

Moon-headed Side Gilled Sea Slugs

Moon-headed side gilled sea slugs
A Moon-headed sea slug vacuums the sand at night

The most unusual Euselenops luniceps is rarely seen because it buries itself in the sand during the day. Its long mantle forms a siphon that brings sea water to the slug’s gills while it is buried. Notice the siphon towards the rear of the slug in Wisnu Purwanto’s photo from Sand Bowl dive site. Mr. Purwanto shares other Gorontalo underwater photos on his Flickr page. Its most notable feature is its large, wide oral veil that covers its mouth. The veil is fringed with many sensory hairs called papillae. The slug basically feels for prey along the sand with its mouth. Moon-headed ones are the only side gilled sea slugs that can swim for some distance. To swim, it flaps the sides of its body. It only grows to 7 cm.
Although night dives are not included in dive packages that Miguel’s Diving offers, oftentimes night diving is available. Please ask when you make a booking with us.

Sea Hare Mating in Gorontalo

That tumbling mass is really sea hare mating! Imagine the surprise of divers looking for critters at Sand Castle, one of Gorontalo’s muck diving sites. On the sand in shallow water were masses that looked like sea weeds, rocking back and forth in the gentle surge. In fact, there were patches of algae on the sea floor. That added to the confusion. But a closer inspection revealed a rarely witnessed event, sea hare mating.

Slugs Looking Like Rabbits

Sea hares are members an opisthobranch order of sea slugs. More colorful opisthobranchs are famously called nudibranchs. Their sensing organs are called rhinophores. In sea hares, these and their oral tentacles are rolled. Many sea hare species have an internal shell, giving them a pudgy appearance. These characteristics make the slug look like a rabbit, hence the name. Sea hares can grow to enormous sizes and weigh five kilograms or more.

Lined Sea Hares

The sea slugs discovered by guests of Miguel’s Diving in the midst of sea hare mating were not of the large variety. Instead, they were Lined Sea Hares (Stylocheilus striatus).

mating sea hares in Gorontalo
Lined sea hares during mating

Notice the fine dark lines in the photo by Senior Aldo Galante of Buenos Aires. Some light spots are also visible. This color pattern makes for great camouflage. Lined Sea Hares are usually quite small, such as the ones found in Gorontalo that day. But they can grow to up to 65 mm in length. Like other sea hares, Lined ones eat blue-green algae. When disturbed, most sea hares will secret purple ink. This purple secretion actually comes from toxins found in the blue-green algae eaten by sea hares.

Sea Hare Mating Video

To witness sea hare mating is a rare event. Watch the video shot in Gorontalo that day.

At the beginning of the video, there are several still photos. Can you make out the individual sea hares? Notice how the mass of sea hares resembles the clump of algae growing on a nearby rock. Do you see individual sea hares crawling from the upper left screen towards the sea hare mating frenzy? Notice the dark portion inside the body of a sea hare. This is the internal shell.
For your chance to witness a rare marine event, please make a dive booking with us at info@miguelsdiving.com

Whale Shark encounter in Gorontalo

A whale shark encounter was in store for two American divers. On their way to the Togian Islands, they made a last minute decision to make two dives in Gorontalo. That decision made memories to last a lifetime.

World Class Diving in Gorontalo

Whale shark encounter in Gorontalo, Indonesia
A whale shark swims over divers

Sadly, many travelers miss diving in Gorontalo on their way to its more famous neighbors, the Togian Islands, Bunaken Marine Park and Lembeh Straits. But world class diving is easily available here. After touch down at the airport, the ocean is only an hour away. Eight different dive sites are only fifteen minutes from the private dock of Miguel’s Diving. Over 30 named sites are available.

The whale shark encounter captured in the video was at one of those close dive sites. It is named Swirling Steps because of a series of short drops and ledges that push into the current. Staff of Miguel’s Diving have forgotten the number of times we have seen whale sharks at this site. There have been too many over the years! In addition, this site has hard coral below 40 meters, which indicates the vibrant health of Gorontalo reefs. Only in Gorontalo can diver see Salvador Dali sponges with their surreal, carved surfaces.

Whale Shark Encounter Video

Watch the video shot to see the whale shark passing by. The whale shark enounters in Gorontalo are in a natural environment. They are swimming around looking for schools of small fish. Days with a higher plankton count will also bring in the whale sharks. That is what happened the day this video was shot.

Miguel’s Diving staff tell guests that if a shadow appears overhead, look up! It maybe a whale shark or a manta ray. It seems that the whale sharks are not only curious about divers but also they like the bubbles. They also like the dive boat, which has had numerous whale shark encounters of its own. Perhaps they think it is a long lost relative floating on the surface! A fantastic photo of one is available on our home page. These large pelagics can grow up to 15 meters in length. They can live up to 100 years. Judging by its small size of merely six meters, this one was probably in his early twenties.

For your chance for a whale shark encounter, please make a dive booking with us at http://miguelsdiving.com/contact-us/

Minke Whale breaching in Gorontalo

A Minke Whale Breaches in Gorontalo

On March 27, a Minke Whale breached the perfectly flat sea off Traffic Jam dive site in Gorontalo. Our boat captain watched the 10-meter long whale jump into the air. It hit the water with the belly-flop style characteristic of this whale. The Minke jumped four times and also blew water into the air. Divers that day had already descended. We heard several loud bangs but did not realize a whale was breaching less than 400 meters away. Miguel’s Diving has reported this exciting encounter to the APEX Environmental’s Coral Triangle Oceanic Cetacean Program. We have reported whale sightings to APEX for about ten years.

A breaching Minke Whale
A Minke Whale breaches

The Life of a Minke Whale

Minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) are the smallest type of rorqual whale. Rorquals have numerous, distinct pleats of skin under their chin. These can expand to hold tons of water when the whale opens its mouth to feed. They eat krill, fish and squid. A Minke Whale uses the baleen of its upper mouth to filter food out of the water held in its mouth. They can be found in all oceans and live up to 60 years. A Minke Whale can weigh up to 10 tons. With populations numbering over 500,000 the Minke Whale is not considered to be endangered.

Good News from the International Court of Justice

Four days after Miguel’s Diving staff sighted the breaching Minke Whale, whales living in the southern oceans received good news. The International Court of Justice in the Hague sided with Australia in a suite against the Japanese whaling industry. The Court determined that the annual hunt was not for scientific purposes as claimed. The Court ordered a halt to any more whaling in the southern oceans. Japanese demand for eating whale meat has declined drastically over the last decade. According to news.com.au, the meat of more than 2,300 Minke Whales is sitting unsold in freezers in Japan. Whalers had planned to take 1,300 whales annually, despite plunging sales. Minke whales are also hunted in Iceland and Norway.

Everyone here is happy that the Minke Whale we saw will not end up in a freezer! For your chance to dive the blue waters of Gorontalo, please take a look at our dive packages and send an email to info@miguelsdiving.com.

Marine Protected Areas in Tomini Bay

Viable marine protected areas are a crucial need worldwide. At Miguel’s Diving, our business model is based on ecological sustainability and community development.

Gorontalo Marine Protected Areas

During our early years of operation, Miguel’s Diving staff conducted a series of coral awareness campaigns. These took place in local schools, village halls and government buildings. We even used the front porch of a house! Gorontalo Province Fisheries Department, the Nature Lovers club at the local university and law enforcement took part. The basic message was “no coral, no fish, your choice.” The culmination of these educational efforts was the establishment of the Olele Village Marine Park in 2007. Miguel’s Diving pays a fee directly to the village for our guests to dive in designated sites. In this marine protected area, fishing is not allowed.

Daily Patrols

A dive guide removes two Crown-of-Thorns from a pristine coral reef in Gorontalo
A dive guide removes two Crown-of-Thorns from a pristine coral reef in Gorontalo
During regular diving season, Miguel’s Diving staff are in the water almost daily. Diving season is November to April. We take time during each dive to clean up a bit of trash or fishing line. Any Crown-of-Thorns starfish are taken immediately from the dive sites. In other marine protected areas in the world, Crown-of-Thorn outbreaks severely threaten the coral reef. Divers will immediately notice the dense and healthy hard corals of Gorontalo.

Vast Tomini Bay

Miguel’s Diving offers diving along the northern shore of Tomini Bay. Other operators provide diving in the Togian Islands. They are located in southern part of Tomini Bay. Tomini Bay is one of the largest in the world. It plunges over four kilometers in depth near Gorontalo dive sites. It takes eight hours by metal ferry boat to cross from Gorontalo to the Togian Islands.

Togian Islands Marine Protected Areas

There is no dynamite fishing in the areas where Miguel’s Diving operates. This is because of environmentally-friendly local fishing practices and community education efforts. Gorontalo Fisheries Department also patrols the coastline. No so fortunate are our neighbors to the south. Although the Togian Islands is one of Indonesia’s official marine protected areas, enforcement is lacking. In fact, there is a petition on Change.Org to urge the Indonesian government to tackle dynamite fishing and over fishing in the Togian Islands. Would you add your name to this petition? We have!

Malaysia International Dive Expo with Miguel’s Diving

Miguel’s Diving Booth A83

The 9th Malaysia International Dive Expo will take place June 6 – 8, 2014. It is also called MIDE 2014. The location is Putra World Trade Centre or PWTC. The Exhibition has opens to the pubic daily at 10 a.m. It closes nightly at 7 p.m. The admission fee for adults is only RM3.00. Children below 17 years of age are free. For more information, please visit the official Malaysia International Dive Expo web site.

Malaysia International Dive Expo 2014

Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise at MIDE 2014
Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise at MIDE 2014
This will mark the third time Miguel’s Diving has participated in the annual Malaysia International Dive Expo. Our booth will be located at A83. This is a strategic corner booth. The fasica board name is Miguel’s Diving @ Grand Q. We want to thank Mr. Rocky Liyanto of Grand Q Hotel in Gorontalo for its generous help in this year’s exhibit. Look for the dramatic “Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise” layout. Our professional backdrops were designed by Ms. Galuh Riyadi of Jakarta. They feature underwater photo art by some guests of Miguel’s Diving. These photographers come from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Perhaps you will recognize a name – and perhaps a face! We have some special discounts for MIDE visitors. Please come by to chat and pick up a flyer. We would love to catch up with old friends and make many new ones.

Gorontalo for Malaysian Divers

Gorontalo is an excellent destination for Malaysian divers. Pristine dive destinations are often difficult to reach. Not so Gorontalo! Air Asia offers flights from KUL to Makassar (UPG) four times weekly. The connecting flight to Gorontalo lasts about one hour twenty minutes. Gorontalo diving season is the opposite of most peninsular Malaysian destinations. Our season runs mid October to mid May. Officially it is November to April. Now there is no reason to cry during monsoon-lah. Come dive in Gorontalo! For many Malaysians food can be an issue. Food in Gorontalo is halal.
Contact us here about our participation in the 2014 Malaysia International Dive Expo or to make a booking for your next dive in Sulawesi with Miguel’s Diving!

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