• 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: 2019

MIDE 2019 features Gorontalo Marine Environments

MIDE 2019, the Malaysia International Dive Expo, featured a presentation on Gorontalo’s marine environments. Staff from Miguel’s Diving delivered this full-color session from the stage of the Indonesia Pavilion.

MIDE 2019: the Malaysia International Dive Expo

The 14th Malaysia International Dive Expo took place 3 – 5 May 2019. It is also called MIDE 2019. 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.

Gorontalo’s Marine Environments

On Saturday, 4 May, Miguel’s Diving accepted the invitation from Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism to deliver a presentation about Gorontalo. We selected the topic of Gorontalo’s marine environments. Much variety in environments means much variety in diving. After introducing the team of Miguel’s Diving, our staff explained the nature of Gorontalo’s geography. Ancient coral uplifts form the rocky northern coastline of Tomini Bay. Moreover, the soft limestone erodes over time and forms dramatic underwater scenery. This also creates multiple environments within a short distance.

Gorontalo Marine Environments explained at MIDE 2019
Gorontalo Marine Environments explained at MIDE 2019

Gorontalo’s pristine coral walls actually form part of the continental wall of Sulawesi. On these deep walls, our famous Salvador Dali sponges grow in surreal shapes and super sizes. Each is unique in profile. Moreover, they come in a variety of colors. A top the coral walls lies a shallow ledge, sometimes measuring only a meter wide. Different marine life live here, giving divers another type of environment to experience in the same dive.

Another characteristic of Gorontalo’s geography is submerged points. These are frequent features found along the coastline. The bay’s longshore currents hits theses points, creating a swirl of activity. Schooling pelagic fish and strange creatures of the deep ocean can be seen in these locations.

In other places in the world, having a single coral pinnacle is considered special. However, in Gorontalo, multiple pinnacles compose several dive sites. Gorontalo’s famous whale shark sightings most often occur along a row of coral pinnacles.

Caverns also occur in Gorontalo. However, none of these are underwater caves. Cave diving requires technical skills, certification and preparation. Caverns offer a safe alternative, since the way out is always clearly visible.

Muck basins alternate with other marine environments. Like all of Gorontalo’s marine environments, these are actually quite small. As a result, this means that marine life is more crowded than in locations where muck diving is found in a large area.

Gorontalo even has a couple of artificial reefs. Specifically, these are historical wrecks.

Gorontalo for Malaysian Divers

MIDE presentation
Fans of Miguel’s Diving at MIDE presentation

Gorontalo is an excellent destination for Malaysian divers. Pristine dive destinations are often difficult to reach. Not so Gorontalo! Air Asia offers daily flights from Kuala Lumper’s KLIA2 airport to Makassar (UPG) four times weekly. The connecting flight to Gorontalo (GTO) lasts about one hour ten minutes. This is the route we recommend for Kuala Lumpur based divers.  

Additionally, Gorontalo’s 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.

Even if you missed our presentation at MIDE 2019, you can still book your dive trip with us.

Arothron immaculatus Emerges from Hiding

Arothron immaculatus or the Immaculate puffer is rarely seen in coral dense environments typical of Gorontalo. But one day it make a surprise appearance.

Hiding on a Sandy Bottom

Arothron immaculatus
An Immaculate puffer tries camouflage

One day a dive master from Miguel’s Diving spotted the bright yellow eye of a fish trying to hiding itself in the white sand bottom. By the way, one of the common names for Arothron immaculatus is Yellow-eyed puffer. Knowing it had been seen, the fish tried to flick more sand over its oval-shaped body. However, its brilliant eyes and strange tufts on top its nose remained clearly visible. It shifted around closer to a mass of corals, revealing a mottled pattern as the grains of white sand began to fall off its body. After posing for a few photos, the fish decided to flee across the white sand bottom. It even and pale color could help it hide undetected there.

Arothron immaculatus around the Pacific  

This Immaculate puffer can be found through Indo-Pacific waters. It clearly prefers sandy or silty bottoms near coral reefs or shallow estuaries. The Arothron immaculatus seen in Gorontalo was living at one of our alternate muck diving sites. The site is called Mystic Point. It is close to the estuary of Bone River. That dive site is known for its relatively poor coral but has a white sand bottom that is rare for our area of Gorontalo. That site has marine life only found there, like the Twin-eyed goby and the Immaculate puffer. This puffer can also be found near mangroves and seagrass beds. Western Gorontalo has those environments, so perhaps this puffer can also be found there.

This puffer is usually solitary and rarely in large numbers in its environments. It is found between three and thirty meters. It is mostly carnivorous.

Arothron immaculatus in Gorontalo
Arothron immaculatus in Gorontalo

Arothron immaculatus has some distinctive markings that help confirm its identity. Apart from its beautiful eyes and nose tufts, its body is basically plain, unless it is sporting the botches of its camouflaged mode. Moreover, it has a large dark patch around its pectoral fin base. Also, it has dark upper and lower margins on its tail fin. A similar species is Arothron manilensis. However, the Manila puffer has distinct thin lines on its body.

The Quixotic and Toxic Puffer

Puffer fish have quite distinctive bodies. This includes tough skin and a dental plate in their beak-like mouth. What they lack is more notable. They lack fin spines and ribs. As a result, they can inflate their stomachs with water when afraid. Moreover, their skin, gonads and liver contain two toxins. These are tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin. Some species are more toxic than others. Because different puffer species have similar body shapes, identification is most accurate when using color patterns.

For your chance to see one of Gorontalo’s puffer fish, please book your dive trip with us.

ADEX 2019 Welcomes Back Miguel’s Diving

ADEX 2019 welcomes back Miguel’s Diving after an eleven year absence. Believe it or not, Miguel’s Diving last participated in this regional dive exhibition in 2008.

ADEX 2019 – Bigger by Far

This year’s Asia Dive Expo actually marked the event’s twenty-fifth outing. Back in the earlier years, the expo was much smaller. When Miguel’s Diving last participated, the square footage was under 2,500 with visitors totaling under 20,000. ADEX 2019 filled over 10,000 square feet at Suntec City Convention Center in Singapore. Last year’s expo gathered over 40,000 consumer visitors. About half that number of trade visitors came. In 2006, Miguel’s Diving sponsored a Lucky Draw.

As in previous years, Miguel’s Diving filled a regular three by three meter booth. This year’s location was K16. The booth included photos of Singapore-based divers who have dived with us in Gorontalo. Also, one panel of the booth displayed beautiful underwater photos. One of our Singaporean divers took these photos during his third trip to Gorontalo last December. 

Friends Old and New

One of the highlights of this and any exhibition is too meet many enthusiastic divers from around the world. Not only did Singapore divers visit the Miguel’s Diving booth. So did divers from Dubai to Taiwan.

Fadel Muhammad ADEX 2019
Member of Parliament Fadel Muhammad visits

Another great benefit of dive expos such as ADEX is the chance for reunion. Many who had previously dived Gorontalo with us, stopped by to say hello and catch up on the latest news. This included dive buddies from Malaysia and Indonesia.

We felt especially honored that Minister of Parliament from Gorontalo Prof. Dr. Ir. Fadel Muhammad attended two days of the expo.

Campaign against Single-Use Plastics

Each year ADEX highlights an important aspect of marine environment. ADEX 2019 launched a campaign against single-use plastics. Too many of these often end up in the world’s oceans.  In fact, people dump eight millions tons of plastics into the ocean annually. According to the World Bank, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam discard the most plastic into the ocean.

Singapore, the host of ADEX 2019, consumes 1.76 billion kilograms of plastics each year. This statistic comes from the Singapore Environment Council. Unfortunately, less than twenty per cent of that is recycled.

Anne the plastic queen
Plastic as Fashion

Indonesian ocean artist Anne K. Adijuwono staged a fashion show featuring 25 endangered species. She also created a mural using plastic waste. Mermaid Dewa designed outrageous costumes for a traveling troupe leading the cry against single-use-plastics. 

Miguel’s Diving has long had a plastics policy in place. It involves four actions. They are refuse, reduce, recycle and reclaim. For your chance to participate in our efforts to reduce single-used plastics bound for the ocean, please book your dive trip with us.

Whether or not you had a chance to see us at ADEX, we would love to have you show you the hidden paradise of Gorontalo. Please book your dive trip with us.

Deep Extreme Indonesia 2019 Features Miguel’s Diving Staff

Deep Extreme Indonesia 2019
Underwater Talks

Deep Extreme Indonesia 2019 features one of Miguel’s Diving staff as guest speaker. Our senior dive master and marketing assistant Yunis Amu participated in UW Talks. These talks featured various Indonesians well known in the dive industry. We are very proud that he received this invitation.

Manual UW Settings for Beginners

In his UW talk, Yunis targeted divers who use only automatic settings when photographing underwater. He challenged them to advance their skills and use manual settings. This would give much better results in underwater photography.

After introducing himself, he divided his UW Talk into several sections. First was Aperture or F-Stop, then Speed and then ISO. He included a section on Strobes and ended with cautions about Buoyancy. To support his UW Talk, he shot a variety of marine life common in Gorontalo. That included Salvador Dali sponge, red sea whips, Thorny seahorse, lionfish, Harlequin ghostpipefish and sea fan. These he shot at various settings to illustrate the impact a change of settings would have on a particular photo.

Yunis Amu in action

He completed this UW Talk for Deep Extreme Indonesia 2019 with several dramatic and excellent photos. These included a rare bell jellyfish, nemo and nemo eggs, whale shark in sunburst and seahorse shot with black background and bokeh style. All underwater photographs presented were original and without any computer editing.

DEEP Extreme Indonesia 2019

Miguel’s Diving has participated in this annual dive expo since its inception. Deep Extreme Indonesia certainly maintained its reputation as a well-run, regional dive expo this year. The variety of exhibitors is one of its hallmarks.

Two of Miguel’s Diving staff attended the expo and promoted diving in Gorontalo.

Meanwhile back in Gorontalo, our staff hosted international divers, providing great service and great diving. This included five whale sharks and 35 meter visibility!

For your chance to study underwater photography in Gorontalo with our staff, please book your dive trip with us!

Dogtooth Tuna Video

Dogtooth tuna video recently shot in Gorontalo is now available for viewing.

Tuna on the Reef Edge

Although Gorontalo is famous for its Yellowfin tuna, the tuna that divers will most likely see here is Dogtooth. This tuna is one of the apex predators like Giant trevally and large groupers.  They eat smaller schooling fish that thrive off Gorontalo’s coral walls. These include fusiliers, fairy wrasses, scads and rainbow runners. As evidenced in the Dogtooth tuna video, these fish are curious about divers. As a result, they will often make several passes, giving time for visitors to get cameras ready.

Lucky Dogtooth Tuna Video

A prime dive site for viewing larger schooling fish is Buffalo Head Point.  It numbers among Gorontalo’s many submerged points. These points jut away from the cliff above water and away from the underwater coral wall. Moreover, this position interrupts the smooth flow of the area’s longshore current. When a strong current is running, schooling fishes will congregate off these submerged points.

On the day this Dogtooth tuna video was shot, the current was moderately strong. Also, the plankton count was high. Notice all the backscatter in the video. That is living plankton. As a result, schooling fish that feed on plankton gathered in abundance. Notice the Blue-and-yellow fusiliers in the video. This is the kind of fish that fast swimming Dogtooth tuna love to eat.

Although dive staff often see large fish in these conditions, everyone was surprised with the close encounter with schooling Dogfish tuna.

Tuna without Scales

The scientific name for Dogtooth tuna is Gymnosarda unicolor. Unlike other sarda, this one lacks scales. Hence its official name, since gymno means “naked” in Greek. This silvery fish is considered unicolor, in contrast to other tunas like Yellowfin or Bluefin. It sports a single, undulating lateral line.

dogtooth tuna video
A Dogtooth tuna cruises in Gorontalo

Divers can easily recognize this streamlined fish. It has white tips on its upper and lower back fins. The caudal peduncle also shows a white area. These white markings are clearly visible in the Dogtooth tuna video. Also, notice that the fish’s upper jaw extends even with its eye. This fish swims with its mouth open, showing its many conical teeth.  

The average size of Dogtooth tuna that divers see swimming along Gorontalo’s coral walls is between 40 to 120 centimeters. Mature fish can measure up to two meters in length and weigh up to 120 kilograms. These swim in depths as deep as 300 meters. Miguel’s Diving staff estimate the larger ones seen in the Dogfish tuna video weighed about 50 kilos!

This tuna species lives in tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region.

For your chance to see Dogtooth tuna in Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us!

Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses

Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses are rarely seen. However, one of them drifted near Miguel’s Diving speed boat during a surface interval. It looked like a giant pink and transparent version of a child’s slinky toy.

Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses

Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg mass floats on the surface

Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses

Mysterious, deep water squids lay eggs in spirals. A gelatinous case holds the long spirals together. After the fertilization process is complete, the egg mass will float with ocean currents near the surface.

Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses can measure up to 1.8 meters in length. Each tiny pink pearl is actually a squid egg. A single egg case carries between 24 and 43 thousand eggs inside its transparent case. The egg mass the Miguel’s Diving staff discovered measured about one meter.

diamond squid egg mass detail
Detail of diamond squid egg mass

Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses drift with strong currents in warm tropical waters. Seeing them is indeed a rare event. This occurrence marks only the second time Miguel’s Diving staff have discovered this type of egg mass during our 16 years of operation.

Diamond Squid from the Depths

This deep water squid is sometimes called diamond or diamondback squid. It has distinctive fins that run its body length. Its scientific name, Thysanoteuthis rhombus, describes its rhombic shape. Its arms are noticeably short. However, it can grow up to 100 centimeters and weigh up to 30 kilograms.   

This diamond quid lives in the deeper parts of the ocean during the day. Trawlers have found it at depths below two kilometers! Since Tomini Bay, where Miguel’s Diving operates, plunge to twice that depth, no one should be surprised to learn deep sea squid live in Gorontalo waters. At night, it will rise nearer the ocean surface. It is found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas.

The beautiful Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses come from mating pair. The diamond squid are the only cephalopod known to remain in the same mating pair for life. Fishermen observed that if one of the pair is caught, its mate will remain in the area until it is caught as well. Diamond squid naturally live about one year.  

Thysanoteuthis rhombus sketch

Thysanoteuthis rhombus adult

Deep Water Encounter

This squid is fished commercially in Japan. Other predators include tuna, swordfish, sharks, Rough-toothed dolphins, as well as False Killer and Sperm whales. Miguel’s Diving staff have observed all of those predators in the Gorontalo waters of Tomini Bay.

Although divers are unlikely to see these deep water Thysanoteuthis rhombus egg masses anywhere in the world, our guests often see other pelagic species. For your chance to meet deep water marine life in Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us.

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