• 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: 2020

Galaxy Coral Forms Massive Colonies in Gorontalo

Galaxy coral forms the largest hard coral colonies in Gorontalo. Massive mounds and columns of this spiky coral astound passing divers.

Stars of the Reef

A colony of Galaxy coral is made up of countless individual corallites. A single Galaxy corallite measures between three and four millimeters. A corallite is composed of a circular polyp, which is living. Surrounding the polyp are ridges that radiate from its center. These radiating ridges serve to protect the polyp from predators. These radiating ridges give each individual polyp the appearance of a star. A colony composed of countless stars gives rise to a galaxy of coral.

However, divers should be careful when approaching Galaxy coral. Those radiating ridges are extremely sharp and can easily cut one’s skin. Moreover, the scientific term for radiating ridges is septa.

Galaxea astreata

Galaxy polyps in Gorontalo
Galaxea polyps open

The most common Galaxy coral in Indo-Pacific waters is Galaxea astreata. Usually, its colonies are low and encrust the substrate. At other times, it forms upright columns. For Galaxea astreata, its septa count is eight to twelve. Usually, it does not fully extend its polyps during the day. This helps protect it from daytime predators. In the closeup shot from Gorontalo, note the white-tipped polyps in this daytime photo.

Galaxy coral in Gorontalo

Galaxy coral colonies
Massive Galaxy colonies in Gorontalo

The large and notable Galaxy colonies of Gorontalo are most likely Galaxea astreata. In total, there are ten species of Galaxy corals. Possibly, Galaxea fasicularis is the coral found at dive sites here because it forms the largest known colonies. In Gorontalo, Galaxy corals form colonies larger than a city bus. This colony size is far larger than any described in scientific literature. In the wide angle shot from Gorontalo, note that the corals far in the background are still part of this massive colony of Galaxy coral.    

Two factors contribute to the giant size of Galaxy colonies in Gorontalo. The marine environment here is extremely healthy. Also, Galaxy corals possess special sweeper tentacles. These are a defensive organ tipped with powerful stings. Those stings keep other corals from living close by. That makes room for the colony to expand.

Galaxy corals not only feed on plankton caught with the polyp’s tentacles. Inside its body live zooxanthella. These convert sunlight into food. Notably, Gorontalo lies slightly north of the equator, so sunlight is abundant.

For your chance to marvel at the Galaxy coral found in Gorontalo, please book your dive trip with us.

Bottlenose Dolphin Video

Bottlenose Dolphin video from Gorontalo, Indonesia, brings joy to those who love the sea and its many inhabitants.

Side Job with Benefits

Miguel’s Diving is committed to educating and training local Gorontalo people to work in the marine tourism sector. As a result, almost all of our staff are local fishermen. Moreover, all of our dive staff have successfully trained to be PADI dive masters.

On days when they are not diving, our dive staff often head to sea to fish. Gorontalo is an exporter of high-quality Yellowfin Tuna. The tuna is caught by handline from small wooden boats. These boats are outrigger canoes and made by hand in the village. A fisherman here can only catch one tuna at a time. That makes this local style of fishing most eco-friendly.

Bottlenose Dolphin Video

At the urging of Miguel’s Diving, our dive staff bring their handphones sometimes when they go to sea. One day, Boka, one of our dive masters, joined a school of happy dolphins. He made this Bottlenose Dolphin video to share. Enjoy – the dolphins clearly did!

A Pod of Bottlenose Dolphin play in Goronotalo

Cetaceans are commonly seen in Gorontalo waters. Ocean depths drop below four kilometers not far from our coastline. In this Bottlenose Dolphin video, the proximity of deep blue waters to shore is clearly visible.

Pods that Pass

Pods of Bottlenose dolphin often pass through Gorontalo waters. Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins tend to be smaller than those that stay in deep water. Indeed, they are the smallest cetaceans we see regularly. Adults typically measure less than two meters long. Their most prominent feature is their beaked “bottle” nose. Also, they stay in social groupings called pods. They are friendly and active. This identifying behavior makes the Bottlenose Dophin video so entertaining.

For your chance to see Bottlenose Dolphins, please make your dive reservations with us.

White ribbon eel glides in Gorontalo

White ribbon eel glides across the sandy bottom in shallow water. It undulates in effortless motions.

An Unexpected Sighting

During daylight hours, white ribbon eels usually stay hidden in their sandy dens. They live in shallow lagoons, preferring areas with white sand. At night, they emerge in search of food. They prefer to eat small crustaceans and molluscs. Sometimes, they will eat nudibranchs.

white ribbon eel face
A White ribbon eel glides over the sand

At other times, they will move from one den to another. This means they will swim across the sandy bottom. One day, Miguel’s Diving staff observed a White ribbon eel doing just that. However, this one did not move quickly from one hole to another. It spent fifteen minutes swimming across the bottom. Occasionally, it stuck its head into goby holes. Perhaps it was searching for a shrimp to eat.

Once, it swam underneath some cloth lost by a fisherman. The cloth was half buried in the sand. Soon, the White ribbon eel emerged from the other side. After crossing back and forth, it finally disappeared head first into a hole.   

Elegance in Motion

This ribbon eel has a pale body color. Its dorsal fin is continuous and edged in brilliant white. Its face is peppered with small spots. When swimming, its motion in indeed like a sensuous ribbon.

The Truly Unique White Ribbon Eel

White ribbon eels belong to its own genus of which it is the only species. That means its morphology is truly unique. As with other eels, it does not have scales. Instead, slime covers its body. This mucous coating allows it to enter and exist holes in sand and gravel without getting scratches. Also, the slime repels parasites.

The eyesight of this unique eel is not as good as its sense of smell. That sense is well developed. Moreover, it has not two nostrils but four. The first pair lie on the tip of its nose. The second pair are barely visible and lie level with its eyes. Its sense of smell leads the White ribbon eel to its prey. In fact, during the long interval with our dive staff, the ribbon eel totally ignored the diver and camera. Nothing good to eat there!

ribbon eel searches for food
A White ribbon eel searches for food

As with many eels, the branchial openings are small holes. They are found behind the head, one on each side.

The maximum length of this beautiful ribbon eel is about one meter. However, most measure between fifty and eighty centimeters in length.

Its Scientific Name

Pseudechidna brummeri is the official name of the White Ribbon eel. Its genus name consists of two Greek words. Pseudes means false and echidna means viper. This name is meant to describe the pointed feature of its long snout.

Pieter Bleeker was a Dutch doctor who lived in Indonesia for eighteen years. During that time, he collected over twelve thousand specimens of marine life. He published extensive studies in his two work classic Atlas Ichthyologique des Indes Orientales Néêrlandaises. One of the species he discovered and named was the White ribbon eel, Pseudechidna brummeri. The species name honors Lieutenant Medical Colonel Brummer. Brummer was a colleague, friend and fellow collector.

For your chance to dive with beautiful marine life, please make your dive reservations and perhaps you will sight a ribbon eel.

DIVER Magazine Features Salvador Dali Sponges

DIVER magazine features Salvador Dali sponges and their distinctive swirls in an article by Steve Jones.

Swirled Surfaces

Salvador Dali sponge
One of Gorontalo’s Salvador Dali sponges

One of Gorontalo’s claim to fame is the discovery of Salvador Dali sponges. This morphology of Petrosia lignosa is unique to the northern coastline of Tomini Bay, Indonesia. The article found in DIVER magazine explains the discovery. Also, it explains the origin of these bizarre looking sponges. Rantje Allen christened this sponge after the famous Spanish painter. He is the diving pioneer in Gorontalo. The surreal style of Salvador Dali describes the appearance of these giant sponges.

Divers will usually find these sponges below 25 meters. At those depths, they are protected from seasonal high waves and storms. Additionally, they grow off the vertical coral walls in Gorontalo. There, ocean currents bring plankton to them. The article explains how they can break off in storms. When this happens, these ancient giants fall to the ocean bottom. They can no longer feed and soon die, turning to dust in a matter of weeks.

DIVER Magazine Spring 2020

DIVER magazine is the longest established dive magazine in North America. It is published in British Columbia, Canada. Moreover, DIVER magazine is available in print, mobile and on-line editions. This flexibility in format makes the magazine a favorite among divers.

DIVER Magazine cover
DIVER Magazine Spring 2020

Currently, divers are mostly staying at home because of the corona virus (Corvid-19). As a result, DIVER magazine is making its Spring 2020 edition free of charge. Interested divers simply click this link and then access magzter. Then they can open an account and enjoy free access to this edition and others for a seven-day period. What a great idea!

An Award Winning Photographer

This Spring edition of DIVER magazine contains an article on Salvador Dali sponges. Accompanying the article are incredible underwater photographs by Steve Jones. Mr. Jones is an award-winning underwater photographer and journalist. His travel and work spans the globe, including Antarctica.

During his worldwide travels, Mr. Jones visited Gorontalo during wave season. Ocean conditions are challenging during that time of year. However, he left with a sizeable archive of spectacular photos of Gorontalo’s marine environment.

The article also explains conservation efforts of Gorontalo’s marine environment. Specifically, Mr. Jones describes the great care that Olele villagers take of their home reefs. Additionally, the education campaigns that Miguel’s Diving promotes get a shout out.  

After enjoying the article consider becoming a subscriber to DIVER magazine. Then, please make your dive reservations with us to see those Salvador Dali sponges for yourselves!

Pilot Whale Beaches in Gorontalo

A pilot whale beached itself close to Olele Marine Park in Gorontalo on 3 January 2020.

Too Big to Help

A local fisherman named Iwan Adam discovered the large pilot whale on the beach near his house in Tolotio Village. The time was 0530 hours. According to Iwan, the cetacean was still breathing and alive when he found it. So, he called nine friends to discuss options for saving the whale. Unfortunately, the discovery coincided with low tide.  Also, the pilot whale weighed almost two tons. Dragging the whale over the rocks and coral proved impossible, given the conditions. Although they poured water on it to keep it cool, the whale died twenty minutes later and before the tide rose again.

pilot whale beached
Short-finned pilot whale beached in Gorontalo

Government officials arrived to assess the situation. According to their notes, the whale measured 482 centimetres long. Its girth was 220 centimetres. Moreover, it was male. In order to avoid contamination, the villagers buried the carcass.

Sightings of Pilot Whales in Gorontalo

Miguel’s Diving staff have observed pilot whales on other occasions. Although these cetaceans are famous for traveling in pods, we have only observed single pilot whales near diving areas. Pods of pilot whales occasionally pass Gorontalo fishermen, who are handlining yellowfin tuna farther from shore. The dorsal fin of a pilot whale tends to fold back a bit. Thus, with this observation, visual identification is possible.

The Short-Finned Pilot Whale

dead whale
Distinctive head, mouth and fins of a pilot whale

The unfortunate whale that beached itself was a Short-finned Pilot Whale. Globicephala macrorhynchus is its scientific name. Distinguishing features include a rounded, bulbous head. Its fins are set forward on its body and point sharply back. The mouth slants upward. Mostly, its color is uniformly black. Some individuals exhibit a diagonal stripe from eye to dorsal fin and a cape. Sometimes, a lighter belly patch is visible. The body is slender but robust. In death all color will be lost.

The Short-finned Pilot Whale is among a group of marine life called blackfish. These cetaceans are mostly jet black in color. The Long-finned Pilot Whale is not found in our area, as it prefers the cold waters of the northern and southern oceans. In Gorontalo, Miguel’s Diving staff have seen other blackfish species. This includes Pygmy Killer Whale, Melon-Headed Whale and False Killer Whale. Surprisingly, the most common blackfish we see are Killer Whales or Orca.

Behavioral Characteristics

Short-finned Pilot Whales usually travels in pods but rarely breaches. Feeding mostly at night, they love deep-sea squid. These whales have no fixed migration routes, but they often follow squid spawning. Also, they prefer the edges of continental shelves and deep underwater canyons. This perfectly describes the marine substrate along the southern shores of Gorontalo in Tomini Bay.

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

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