• 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: 2018

Mappa Puffer Video

Mappa puffer are usually solitary and wary of divers. One day, however, guests of Miguel’s Diving found one that was too busy eating to care that divers approached for a rare, up-close encounter.

One Pufferfish, Many Names

photo of Mappa puffer
Mappa puffer in Gorontalo

Miguel’s Diving staff call this fish Mappa puffer because its scientific name is Arothron mappa. Other English names include Map puffer, Arothron puffer, Scribbled Arothron puffer and Scribbled puffer. Additionally, this fish can be called pufferfish or simply puffer. Sometimes, pufferfish are called toadfish. As a result, this introduces additional name variations.

Mappa puffer live in tropical and subtropical oceans. Their distribution ranges from the Indian to western Pacific oceans. The key to distinguishing this species from other pufferfishes are the lines that radiate from its eyes. It can grow up to 65 cm in length. Also, pufferfishes like this species lack scales. Divers will see them during the day.

Mappa Puffer Video

This type of pufferfish eats about anything that does not move. It cannot swim fast because of its small fins. Hence, its diet mainly consists of sponges, algae, clams and even coral. However, the Mappa puffer recently encountered in Gorontalo repeated selected something surprising to crunch. Watch the video to see!

This feeding behavior raises questions. Why is it eating dead coral? How can such a soft fish crunch hard coral to bits? The answer perhaps lies inside the mouth of Mappa puffer. It has four strong teeth that keep growing. As a result, this type of pufferfish must crunch on hard things to wear down its teeth.

Eaten at Your Own Risk

As with other pufferfishes, the Mappa puffer can ingest large amounts of water when threatened. In this way, it can swell to twice its usual size. This is how it avoids being eaten. However, pufferfishes like this species are poisonous. Their livers, ovaries and skin contain tetrodotoxin. That poison is an extremely toxic sodium channel blocker. That blocker affects both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Most importantly, it causes paralysis.

The Japanese consider pufferfish meat a delicacy. They call it fugu. Only specially licensed chiefs have permission to prepare the meat. The chief must carefully remove Internal organs and skin prior to consumption. A low dose of tetrodotoxin causes tingling and numbness in the mouth, fingers and toes. Symptoms of a higher dose include nausea, vomiting, difficulty in walking, and paralysis. Most importantly, that paralysis can negatively affect the lungs, leading to respiratory failure. Only one to four milligrams is needed to kill an adult!

Tetrodotoxin has no antidote. The treatment required for recovery is artificial breathing. Mild poisoning can resolve itself within a few hours. More severe cases can require several days. This treatment is considered successful since many people make a full recovery. Heart failure is rare. Most importantly, treatment must begin before paralysis reaches the lungs.

Like many poisons, this one has medical benefits in controlled doses. New studies indicate that it can relieve pain in cancer patients. As such, it could become an alternative for opiates.

Actually, pufferfishes like Arothron mappa are not poisonous themselves. Symbiotic bacteria living inside their tissues produce the poison.

To see but not eat a Mappa puffer in Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us.

MIDE 2018 Welcomes Miguel’s Diving

MIDE 2018, the Malaysia International Dive Expo, welcomed back Miguel’s Diving. It has been four years since our staff have participated.

Malaysia International Dive Expo MIDE 2018

The 13th Malaysia International Dive Expo took place 4 – 6 May 2018. It is also called MIDE 2018. Malaysia’s famous Putra World Trade Centre or PWTC provided the venue. The Exhibition opened daily to the public at 10 a.m. It closed nightly at 7 p.m. This year featured 133 companies and around 2,000 visitors.

For more information, please visit the official MIDE 2018 website. The expo used Hall One of the PWTC complex. A large international book show used several other halls.

Miguel’s Diving @ Booth 219

MIDE 2018 for divers
Potential Malaysian divers learn about Gorontalo

MIDE 2018 marks the fourth appearance of Miguel’s Diving at this dive expo. Our booth was 219 and located at a strategic corner. The fascia board name was Miguel’s Diving Gorontalo. Our booth had a dramatic “Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise” layout. Our professional backdrops were designed by Ms. Galuh Riyadi of Jakarta. They featured underwater photo art by divers of Miguel’s Diving. These photographers come from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

One panel featured photographs of Malaysian divers who have been diving with us recently. What great fun is was to look for friends in those photographs! Better yet was to make a selfie with your own photo in the background. Miguel’s Diving staff had a great time catching up with old friends and making 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 ten minutes. Daily flights via Jakarta are also easy for Malaysian divers to travel to Gorontalo in or out in one day.

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. No reason to cry during monsoon-lah. Come dive in Gorontalo! For many Malaysians food can be an issue. Food in Gorontalo is halal.

Even if you did not see us at MIDE 2018, you can still href=”http://miguelsdiving.com/contact-us/” target=”_blank”> book your dive trip with us.

Illegal Fishing has No Room in Gorontalo

Illegal fishing has no room in Gorontalo, according to Gorontalo’s governor.

A New Task Force Inaugurated

no illegal fishing in Gorontalo
Governor Habibie establishes a task force against illegal fishing

On 21 April 2018, Governor Rusli Habibie established a new task force to fight illegal fishing. The Indonesian Navy, the Marine Police and provincial prosecutors compose this task force. Representatives of these institutions received their official commission from the governor. He gave special hats to team members.

“I do not want people here involved in illegal fishing. If they are, they will be arrested and prosecuted,” stated Mr. Habibie. Illegal fishing wrecks the environment, negatively affecting marine life, especially coral and fish. Thousands of local people attended the ceremony. Libuo Beach in Pohuwato Regency served as its location.

Gubernatorial Decree Number 83/24/II/2018 forms the legal basis for the new task force.

Insya Allah with the existence of this new task force, fish stocks will be protected for the future welfare of the people,” concluded the governor. The governor charged the team to give maximum effort to guard Gorontalo’s marine ecosystems. They must prevent any fish bombing, the use of long tiger nets and the theft of fish by international agents.

The team also must provide education to local fishing communities. This includes fishing within a certain distance from the shoreline. Distance helps guard areas closest to shore for environmental reasons and for marine tourism. The team has six prime tasks. Two are providing guidance and education to local fishing communities. Also, they must increase community awareness of marine fisheries laws. Additionally, they must patrol and identify any illegal fishing activities. Finally, they must analyze and evaluate all relevant data.

Destructive Fishing Practices

Certain destructive fishing practices are illegal. Bombing is one form of illegal fishing. A person will use fertilizer composed of nitrate to fill a small bottle. Inside is a small fuse. If it is lit, it will quickly explode. When thrown into the ocean at the right time, many fish will float to the surface. However, most of the fish fall dead to the ocean floor. The coral is blown to smithereens. No bombing has occurred in areas where Miguel’s Diving takes guests for diving.

Sometimes, a fisherman will put cyanide poison into a plastic bottle. He will often then use a surface compressor to dive. This allows him to find prize fish like Napoleon wrasse. A squirt of poison in its face will cause the fish to lose consciousness. That way the fish can be caught alive and transported to a holding tank. However, smaller fish will die after contact with the poison.

illegal fishing with compressors
Compressor fishers in Gorontalo

The use of a surface compressor is also an illegal fishing method. A team of compressor divers will drag a long net along the reef. They are able to catch almost all the fish in a certain location in a couple of hours.

The Public’s Role in Fighting Illegal Fishing

Miguel’s Diving has long played a role in protecting the marine environment in Gorontalo. We have conducted awareness campaigns on the necessity of protecting coral reefs. These took place in schools, village meeting halls and front porches in fishing villages all over Gorontalo Province.

Miguel’s Diving continues to form friendly relationships with local fishermen. We agree not to allow fishing from our boats, including spear fishing. We buy fish from fishermen at the local market. Our guests can easily confirm this positive relationship by seeing all the waves to and from local fishers.

Social media posting proved a crucial factor in prompting the governor to form the new task force. Several times during the current dive season, guests of Miguel’s Diving witnessed first-hand large teams of compressor fishermen at several dives sites. Guests uploaded photos and live videos of the illegal fishing. This prompted official action, including arrest and confiscation.

To dive with a socially responsible and environmentally aware dive operator, please book your dive trip with us.

Pyrosome video debuts in Gorontalo

Pyrosome video that a guest of Miguel’s Diving shot receives many gasps and questions from those watching it. What is this creature?

Pelagic, Colonial Tunicates

Actually, the strange cone is a colony of Pyrosomes. They are colonial tunicates found floating in the open ocean. As such, they are pelagic. They live and move within a few meters of the ocean surface.

Tunicates are a marine animal with bodies basically shaped like a tube. Some live as single individuals attached to the reef. Others float freely in oceanic waters; these are the pelagic ones. Others live as colonies in a jellylike cloth or tunic. Colonial tunicates can live attached to the reef or to another hard object. Other colonial tunicates live in the open ocean. So, Pyrosomes are pelagic, colonial tunicates.

A Rare Pyrosome Video

Should any scuba diver chance to see a Pyrosome colony, that would be considered an extremely rare event. A Pryrosome video is even more remarkable. As you watch the video, notice that the Pyrosome colony looks fuzzy. Actually, each tiny bump is an individual tunicate. Watch as the colony swims past the sunburst. Each of those black dots is an individual Pyrosome. All are embedded in a common gelatinous body.

A single Pyrosome measures only a few millimeters in size. As with all tunicates, one tiny Pyrosome pulls ocean water inside its body from an outside opening. It filters out plankton to eat. Then it pushes the used water out its other opening. In Pyrosomes, all the expelled water goes into the center of the Pyrosome cone. Then the water is expelled out its common, large opening.

Also notice in the video some holes in the Pyrosome cone. Evidently, a predator has nibbled some of it.

Clones of the Ocean

A colony of Pyrosomes are actually a collection of clones. Tunicates can reproduce sexually. A tunicate born in this way will float as a single larvae in the open ocean. Among colonial tunicates, the single new animal will then start to reproduce asexually. Basically, it makes a clone of itself. As the colony grows, the reproduction process by cloning continues.

A Pyrosome colony begins small. In fact, the day before this video was shot, guests of Miguel’s Diving encountered a small colony. It looked like a fuzzy thimble. Over time and in favorable conditions, a colony can grow to over ten meters in length. Its opening can expand to over two meters – large enough to enclose a human! However, remember that Pyrosomes only eat plankton filtered through those hundreds of thousands of tiny individuals.

Light and Movement

The scientific name of this genus is Pyrosoma. That comes from two Latin words pryo “fire” and soma “body.” Pyrosomes are famous among sailors on the open ocean for their bioluminescent abilities. Unlike other creatures that can bioluminesce, Pyrosomes can emit sustained light that can be seen for up to ten meters away. This is particularly notable at night. One Pyrosome can emit light, which in turn triggers a response from its neighbors in the colony. This looks like flashes of light. The entire colony can also light up. Their blue-green light can be seen up to 30 meters away. Moreover, one floating colony that lights up can elicit a light response from other Pyrosome colonies floating nearby.

Each individual Pyrosome has tiny hairs. These are called cilia. They move to create a current that brings plankton inside its body. All the individual Pyrosomes expelling used water through the colony’s opening also creates a current. Consider this motion as jet propulsion. Members of a colony can coordinate these motions and move itself through the water column.

Although any diver’s chance to encounter Pyrosomes is rare, guests of Miguel’s Diving can see wonderful marine life. To make arrangements for your trip to Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us.

Lunar Eclipse of a Super Blue Moon in Gorontalo

Lunar eclipse of a super blue moon was an event not to be missed by anyone in Indonesia on 31 January 2018.

Triple Celestial Event

supermoon
Super moon rises at 1855 hrs

On 1 January 2018 a full moon appeared in the world’s night skies. A second full moon during the same month rose on 31 January. Astronomers call this rare occurrence a blue moon. Hence the expression in English of a rare event, “once in a blue moon.”

Usually, the moon is 384,400 kilometers from the Earth. However, its orbit is not uniform. Sometimes the moon can be merely 358,993 kilometers away. That means it is more than 25,000 kilometers closer. At that time, the moon appears up to 14 percent larger. Additionally, it can appear 30 percent brighter to the naked eye. This rare occurrence is a super moon. On 31 January 2018, the super moon coincided with the blue moon.

Moreover, on the same date, the blue super moon also turned red. This happened when it became a blood moon as it eclipsed.

Eclipse of a Rare Moon

lunar eclipse begins
Lunar eclipse begins: 2032 & 2047 hrs

A lunar eclipse happens when a full moon travels into the shadow of the Earth relative to the sun. During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns red. Hence the name blood moon. The red is actually the projection of all the sunrises and sunsets onto the surface of the moon.

Gorontalo’s Total Lunar Eclipse

blood to super moon
From Blood to Super moon: 2212 & 2232 & 2333 hrs

In Gorontalo, the super moon appeared over the mountains at 1855 hours local time (WITA). Miguel’s Diving enjoyed night diving under the full moon. After the divers surfaced, the lunar eclipse began. The first photo sequence shows the view of the night sky at 2032 and 2047 hours. The total eclipse lasted for over an hour. The second photo sequence shows the blood moon at 2212 hours. When the moon is in eclipse, it is indeed red! At 2232 the moon began to emerge from the shadow. By 2333 hours the super moon had returned. The last time there occurred an eclipse of a super blue moon was 152 years ago.

Don’t wait until the next super blue lunar eclipse to dive in Gorontalo. We encourage you to book your dive trip with us before then!

PADI Divemaster Staff in Gorontalo only with Miguel’s

PADI divemaster staff in Gorontalo can only be found at Miguel’s Diving.

Trained, Skilled & Certified

PADI divemaster Gorontalo
PADI divemasters of Miguel’s Diving

Miguel’s Diving is not only Gorontalo’s pioneer dive center. We are also the only dive operator in the area to have PADI divemaster staff. Actually, five of our full time staff are PADI divemasters. Our only international staff member has been a PADI divemaster for almost 20 years now. Our Gorontalo staff all recently completed their PADI training. As a result, guests of Miguel’s Diving feel safe with our trained, skilled and certified staff.

PADI Divemaster Training

Becoming a PADI divemaster requires successful course completion. Water skills are an important component of the course. Naturally, our four candidates loved this part of the course. They are all long time dive guides.

Classroom sessions require different skills. Included in this part of the course are important topics. These include supervising diving activities, assisting student divers and diver safety. A PADI divesmaster candidate will also study risk management and environmental awareness. Moreover, participants must pass both water skills and theory components of the course.

Special Opportunity

PADI certification cards
PADI divemaster certificaton cards

Our dive staff received an invitation from Mr. Frans Rattu to complete their PADI divemaster training. PADI Asia Pacific and Politeknik Negri Manado teamed up to offer a special opportunity. Only long time dive guides in the area received an invitation. Also, they must already be certified Rescue Divers. Additionally, candidates must have Emergency Response training or update within two years. All of our staff already had these PADI certifications.

They enjoyed the two weeks in Manado and the study time with friends in the dive industry there. Fortunately, one of their wives came along and helped keep everyone fed. During the required reef cleanup exercise, they found a sun hat accidentally discarded by a visitor. It had a decorative band around it. On the band was some writing in Chinese that said “blue ocean, beautiful day.” So, they decided it would be a great souvenir to bring back to Gorontalo for Miguel’s senior PADI divemaster. All it needed was a quick wash in fresh water!

To make arrangements to dive with our certified PADI divemaster staff, please book your dive trip with us.

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