• 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

Melibe viridis video from Gorontalo

Melibe viridis is a highly unusual nudibranch found throughout the Indo-Pacific region. It uses an oral hood like a net to capture live prey to eat.

M. viridis in Gorontalo
Melibe viridis hunting for prey

A Camouflaged and Cumbersome Nudibranch

Imagine the surprise of divers to see a brownish mass twisting in the current over a muck diving site! That turned out to be a rarely seen Melibe viridis nudibranch.  Viridis is a term describing young foliage. This is an apt description of a creature with parallel branches growing at spaced intervals and perpendicular to its body.   Without movement

, this creature would blend perfectly into the coloration of the ocean bottom. Numerous bumps  and tufts mark M. viridis distinctively. One diver captured these movements in a dramatic Melibe viridis video. This one measured about 8 cm long. Notice that its front left branch is stripped of its warty bark.

M. viridis video from Gorontalo

On another day our divers found one measuring only two centimeters. This second M. viridis had somehow lost all its branches. Some had started growing back. However without those distracting cerata, divers could clearly see the way this nudibranch crawls on the long central foot. It leaves a mucous trail. This small one appears the second part of the video. Water that day was much greener than the previous day. 

Watch this nudibranch twist its body and launch itself into the current. With twisting movements of its body, it succeeded in moving farther along the sloping sand bottom.

Melibe viridis Searching for Food

Melibe nudibranchs have a unique way of searching for food.They are active carnivores and use an oral hood. Imagine the divers’ further surprise to watch this nudibranch hunt for food.

In a rhythmical manner

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, the nudibranch will cast its hood forward. On the inside edges of the oral hood, this type of nudibranch has short papillae, which sense movement. Sometimes, these are visible in the video. The Melibe tries to trap small crabs and shrimps its oral hood. Once trapped, the live prey gets dumped into the oral opening for consumption. The video clearly shows this unique way of hunting for food.

young M. viridis
Young Melibe viridis missing its cerata

Worldwide, there are about 17 valid species of Melibe. Like other nudibranchs, Melibe are hermaphrodites. M. viridis grows up to 13 centimeters. Its color varies widely from light to dark, depending on the coloration of the substrate.

Only lucky divers will ever see a Melibe viridis searching for prey. However, for your chance to see one in Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us.

Dive Season in Gorontalo

Dive Season in Gorontalo runs from November to April. During this time, seas are typically calm and blue. Light afternoon showers make for enjoyable, balmy nights.

Surprising Discovery

Before Miguel’s Diving opened diving in Gorontalo in 2003

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, no one knew the dive season here. In fact, no others were diving in Gorontalo prior to that. The common assumption was that the dive season in Gorontalo would be the same as its nearest neighbors, Bunaken National Park in Manado and the Togean Islands. The distance to Manado is about 400 km. The ferry trip to the nearby Togeans lasts one night.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, diving season in Gorontalo is quite different. Its discovery marked the conclusion of two years’ survey work conducted by Miguel’s Diving staff.

Wind Direction not Rain

Conventional wisdom also says that off season for diving should be during rainy season. And, that dive season should be during dry season. In Gorontalo’s case, the opposite is true. The key factor is wind direction not precipitation.

dive season
Surface interval during dive season

When the northwest monsoons descend on Southeast Asia

, Sulawesi Island is affected. The winds that bring rain hit two lines of mountains before they reach the sites where Miguel’s Diving takes guests. As a result, the seas along Gorontalo’s southern shoreline are calm. Rain rarely hits the entire area. The usual time for showers is three o’clock in the afternoon when rising temperatures gather moisture. Gorontalo City on average receives half the annual rainfall as Manado, which faces north and into the rains.

However, when the dry winds from Australia hit Sulawesi, Gorontalo’s southern coastline is exposed. Seas adjacent to Miguel’s Diving dive sites plunge to over four kilometers. With no islands or barrier reefs, the coast is hit by wind-driven waves. Three to five meter waves are typical during dry season.

Dive Season in Gorontalo

Officially, dive season here runs from November to April. Miguel’s Diving opens for regular diving after the moon change in October. Regular diving ends by mid-May. After that, diving twice in the early morning can be possible. Oftentimes, seas are too rough to use speed boats. The worst sea conditions occur in August. At that time, perhaps only one dive is possible. Sites are limited to only one or two locations by beach entry.

Gorontalo’s dive sites are located in Tomini Bay. This large bay is split by the equator. Perhaps because of the closeness to the equator, Miguel’s Diving staff have observed the change in wind direction has not varied more than two weeks during the two decades of observation.

As a result, we recommend making a booking with us during regular diving season.

Indonesian Airlines All Approved by European Union

Indonesian airlines approved by the European Union now include all those flying to Gorontalo. In fact, all Indonesia’s airlines now have EU approval. This is great news for travelers whom must take internal flights to reach their desired destination.

EU Approval Granted

Late last year, the International Civil Aviation Organisation evaluated Indonesian airlines. As a result it upgraded Indonesia’s safety ranking from 151 to 55. Following that evaluation, EU officials made an assessment visit to Indonesia in early 2018. As a result, the EU granted flying approval to all Indonesian airlines.

“I am particularly glad that after years of work, we are today able to clear all air carriers from Indonesia. It shows that hard work and close cooperation pay off,” said Violeta Bulc, EU’s Commissioner for Transport.

In turn, Indonesia’s Minister of Transport Budi Karya Sumadi welcomed EU’s assessment.

“I must thank all stakeholders for having followed the `rule of the game` to meet the international safety standards. It is a (matter of) pride in itself and makes it possible for them to market their products to attract more attention and boost their sales

,” said Mr. Sumadi.

Travelers can verify for themselves that no Indonesian airlines appear on European Union website list of banned airlines.

A Decade of Improvement

In June 2007, the European Union blacklisted all domestic airlines in Indonesia. At that time, no Indonesian airlines actually flew in European airspace. Most of all, the European Union flight ban was a response to a series of high-profile aviation accidents. Jacques Barrot served as EU vice president in charge of transport. He announced the European Union flight ban. In clarification

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, he stated,“Once more, the EU blacklist will prove to be an essential tool, not only to prevent unsafe airlines from flying to Europe and to inform passengers traveling worldwide, but also to make sure that airlines and civil aviation authorities take appropriate actions to improve safety.”

The ban also required travel agents in Europe to inform those traveling to Indonesia. Most noteworthy, the EU ban had an immediate, negative impact on the tourism sector in Indonesia. This included dive operators in Sulawesi.

Indonesian Airlines Work Hard to Improve

indonesian airlines approved
Garuda Indonesia aircraft in Gorontalo

Two years later in July 2009 came the lifting of the European Union flight ban against Garuda Indonesia. Garuda Indonesia received its air safety certification from the International Air Travel Association the year before. Furthermore, IATA’s standards are very strict.

A year later in 2010, Indonesia Air Asia gained EU permission to fly there. Actually, this airline had not yet begun operating at the time of the original European Union flight ban.

In June 2016, the EU lifted its flight ban on three additional domestic carriers. Those were Citilink, Lion Air and Batik Air.

Now, all of Indonesia’s airlines are approved by the European Union. Should you need flight information when coming to Gorontalo for your dive trip, please contact with us.

Acanthosphex leurynnis Discovered in Gorontalo

Acanthosphex leurynnis, a rarely seen type of waspfish, recently made an appearance in Gorontalo.

Surprising Find: Acanthosphex leurynnis

Acanthosphex leurynnis grows
A rare Wasp-spine velvetfish lies in the sand

During a great muck dive in February 2018, one of our guests discovered an unusual fish. Initially, Miguel’s Diving staff assumed it was a juvenile Cockatoo waspfish, which is often seen at the Tambo’o Fish House Dive Site. That muck site continues to thrill divers with its variety and density of marine critters.

Fortunately, Wolfgang from Germany took a photo of the fish. Then staff sent the photo to a marine identification community on Facebook. A longtime marine biologist working in Pacific Asia identified the fish for us. It turned out to be a Wasp-spine velvetfish. Its scientific name is Acanthosphex leurynnis. It is the only species in its genus. This fish is so seldom seen that it is missing from even large volume fish books. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History possesses specimens of Acanthosphex leurynnis from Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan and Australia.

The Wasp-spine velvetfish grows to a maximum of nine centimeters. Its coloration tends to be dark to light mottled brown. Additionally, white patches occur randomly on its body. It has two spines pointing behind its eye and four more behind its chin. Also, the chin has a pair of short tentacles. Given its small size and camouflaged coloration, divers rarely see this singular fish.

Waspfish of the World

Although Acanthosphex leurynnis is not technically a waspfish, it is generally grouped with waspfish species. Worldwide, there are forty species of waspfish. However, because they are secretive and nocturnal, divers rarely seen them. Some waspfish have venomous spines that can cause painful stings. Waspfish eat shrimps and other small invertebrates. Typically

, the tall dorsal fin on the head is the distinguishing characteristic of waspfish.

Waspfish in Gorontalo

Cockatoo waspfish Ablabys taenianotus
A Cockatoo waspfish pretends to be a dead leaf

Besides the unusual sighting of Acanthosphex leurynnis, divers in Gorontalo are most likely to see Cockatoo waspfish (Ablabys taenianotus). This fish has great camouflage and looks like a dead, brown leaf laying in the sand. They are often in pairs. So, careful divers will look for another one if one is already found. Although this waspfish tends to be dull brown, it can have white on its face.

In Gorontalo, divers will only see waspfish at a single dive site, Tambo’o Fish House. A careful diver will check each dead leaf lying on the sand. If spotted, a waspfish will pretend that a slight current is pushing it about and moving it away. The motions are quite clever!

It lives in the western Pacific Ocean, including northern Australia and Japan. Despite what some guidebooks or interet postings claim, it does not live in the Indian Ocean. The waspfish that lives there is a different species, Ablabys binotatus.

Spiny waspfish Ablabys macrancanthus
A Spiny waspfish sketch

Actually, another waspfish lives only in Indonesia and the Philippines. It is the Spiny waspfish (Ablabys macrancanthus). Distinguishing it in the ocean from the Cockatoo waspfish is extremely difficult. According to marine biologists, the spines of the Ablabys macrancanthus protrude from its dorsal fin. Hence its common name Spiny. The guaranteed way to distinguish between the two species is to count dorsal spines. The less common Spiny waspfish has 15 to 16 and the more widespread Cockatoo waspfish has 17 to 18.

Few divers will wish to count waspfish spines! However, for your chance to see a waspfish in Gorontalo


, please book your dive trip with us.

Beach Cleanup Nationwide Includes Gorontalo

Beach cleanup proclaimed by Indonesian Marine Fisheries Minister Mrs. Susi Pujiastuti officially included Gorontalo.

Nationwide Beach Cleanup Announced

Indonesia enjoys an extremely popular Mminister of Marine Fisheries. Her colorful past and forthright attitude speak to the hearts of many Indonesian citizens. She is most famous for her by-line “Sink it!” During almost four years as minister

, she has sunk over 360 foreign vessels caught illegally fishing in Indonesian waters.

nationwide beach cleanup
Marine Fishers Minister sponsors a nationwide event

With her usual personal charisma, Ibu Susi announced plans for a nation-wide beach cleanup. She calls her organizational teams Pandu Laut Nasional.

“As proof of loyalty and love for the Republic of Indonesia, Pandu Laut Nasional will do beach cleanup in 73 beaches from Sabang to Merauke, Miangas to Rote.” She also added, “If we don’t begin now, when will we? So, our plea is that all Indonesian citizens, including the youth, will form a marine alliance along with Pandu Laut and go to the ocean on 19 August.” Indonesia’s Independence Day falls on 17 August.

With the help of her provincial partners, her ministry identified the 73 locations and designated them for beach cleanup. If no beach is handy, she urged residents to clean up nearby rivers and lakes. Ibu Susi herself will help with the beach clean in Bitung, North Sulawesi, after she sinks some more ships.

With an eye for simultaneous broadcasts, Pandu Laut Nasional coordinated the times. The hope is for one million people to get involved. In a nation as large as Indonesia, a giant beach cleanup like that is certainly possible. In Gorontalo, the beach cleanup started around 1400 hours.

Beach Cleanup in Gorontalo

The organizing committee in Gorontalo included Provincial Marine Fisheries, Environmental Research and Tourism departments along with local universities and police. Local dive entities like POSSI and Miguel’s Diving also participated. About twenty scuba divers participated. They selected Tamboo village for beach cleanup. It is in the Leato Selatan neighborhood of Dumbo Raya sub regency. It is at the edge of Gorontalo City.

Miguel’s Diving staff considered this a great choice since the area is the worst for trash. Three of our dive masters worked as a team. They carried a large plastic dive gear box. They dove to 18 meters and worked their way back up the sandy slope. It took less than 20 minutes to fill their box. Before surfacing


, the team clocked the appropriate three-minute safety stop. They surfaced just in time to join others on the beach to sing “Indonesia Raya.” That is the national anthem. A drone captured the event for live broadcast. Various print and online media also covered the event.

underwater beach cleanup
Local divers clean up underwater

Organizers of Pandu Laut Nusantara also used the beach cleanup to educate the villagers on cleanliness. Mr. Anis Naki, Gorontalo Provincial Secretary gave a challenge. “We in Gorontalo wish that this kind of activity would happen not on this day only. But, this should be carried out routinely, at least once a month.” He added, “We in Gorontalo need to care together, since our cleanliness is less than desired.”

Trash in the Ocean

According to a study released by the University of Georgia, Indonesia is among the top ten nations contributing plastic waste into the oceans. The nation puts an estimated 0.48 to 1,29 million metric tons annually in its seas. Ibu Susi has a goal of 70% reduction in this plastic waste by 2025.

When interviewed by Kompas online media, Mr. Rantje of Miguel’s Diving explained what trash was retrieved from the ocean in front of Tamboo village. Almost all was single use wrapping, like energy drink mix, shampoo, diapers, plastic bags and beer cans.

When guests of Miguel’s Diving dive the reefs of Gorontalo, rarely will they see trash like that. One reason is that our staff do not wait for a beach cleanup day. We pick up trash daily during the course of a dive. To express your appreciation to an environmentally active dive center, please book your dive trip with us.

Hari Ketupat Festival Celebrated in Gorontalo

Hari Ketupat is an annual festival held throughout Gorontalo. It falls on the seventh day after Idhul Fitri, the religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadhan. Although the government usually does not recognize this festival

, Gorontalo people celebrate it anyway. Few local people show up to work on Hari Ketupat!

A Record for Ketupat Broken

Ketupat is a cube of rice that lies within a casing. Someone will hand weave a casing from young palm leaves. Once stuffed with grains of white rice, she will boil the woven casing in water. The rice inside cooks and compresses, creating a cube. Then she cuts open the casing and dices the rice cube inside. It is now ready for eating.

In 2018 the Gorontalo provincial government decided to create extra interest in the Hari Ketupat Festival. The governor launched a drive to make an incredible number of ketupat. Officials from Indonesia’s Record Society (MURI) attended the festival to verify the number. Gorontalo people made a record-breaking 34,000 ketupat. Kampung Jawa in Gorontalo Regency is the traditional center of the Hari Ketupat Festival. So, the record breaking initiative took place there.

Hari Ketupat in Olele Village

coin pulling context
Ladies compete for coins

Coastal communities in Gorontalo avidly enjoy their own versions of the festival. This included villages where staff of Miguel’s Diving live. Olele Village, where a marine park is located, hosted a big event in 2018. Although villagers there did not participate in the record breaking ketupat contest,they did create their own merriment.

Fun activities included the traditional sack race. Contestants step inside an empty, fifty kilo rice sack. Then they hop down a designated track to the cheers and laughter of their friends. Another silly challenge is to pull out coins stuck in cuts on a coconut using only the teeth. The coconut is hung on a string. To complicate matters, the other end of the string is tied around the leg of the contestant. This forces him or her to raise one leg in order for the coconut to descend level with the face.

Hari Ketupat boat race
Outrigger canoes race to the finish line

More serious contestants vie for big prizes. The signature event in coastal villages is the outrigger canoe race. Since several villages gathered at Olele for this year’s race, participants and spectators crowded the beach. The organizing committee placed a series of buoys in locations around the small Olele Bay. Boat captains must pass each buoy without hitting it and return to the starting point to finish. Only three boats at a time can run the circuit, so there are many preliminaries. The final winner received two new boat engines.

Guests of Miguel’s Diving typically dive the Olele Village Marine Park. For help with your dive trip to Gorontalo

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, please make a booking with us.

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

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, 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

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,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

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, 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.