• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Category Archives: Sulawesi Diving

Unterwasser Magazine Discovers Gorontalo

Unterwasser magazine discovers a new dive destination in its March 2017 edition.

Unknown Diving Locations of Sulawesi

The leading dive destinations in Sulawesi have long been located in the Manado area. The Indonesian government established Bunaken National Marine Park in 1991. Muck diving was born in 1994 with the exposure of Lembeh Strait. These two locations have become international hot spots for divers in the know.

Unterwasser Magazine double page
Imran Ahmad’s double-page spread

Although Miguel’s Diving opened diving here in 2003, many international divers have yet to hear of Gorontalo. To many, it remains a hidden paradise. Now is the time for Gorontalo’s wider exposure. Hence, the article in Unterwasser magazine by Imran Ahmad in its March 2017 edition.

The editor of Unterwasser magazine mentions, “Our author has set off for the unknown places in North Sulawesi’s diving paradise and still found untouched underwater worlds.” Gorontalo has gained fame among Indonesian and Asian divers for its surreal Salvador Dali sponges, incredibly dense hard corals and, more recently, whale sharks.

Imran Ahmad, World-Class Photographer

unterwasser magazine with Imran
Imran Ahmad with his annual calendar

The author of the article in Unterwasser magazine is Imran Ahmad. His first, rushed visit to Gorontalo was over a decade ago. He is much sought after as an underwater photographer and journalist. His work assignments range from Asia to Mauritius to Iceland. Recently, his busy schedule allowed for several weeks in Gorontalo. Some of his many photos from Gorontalo appear in the eight-page spread in Unterwasser magazine.

In his article, he writes, “The underwater world in Gorontalo impresses you with its unique sponges, sometimes in surreal forms. Colors appear before your mask and add to them soft corals, overhangs and countless marine life forms – impressive.”

Unterwasser Magazine

This magazine has long been a leading voice in marine sports for the German-speaking market. It has been published monthly since 1995. Its typical length is about 170 pages. Articles in it feature underwater photographs and travel reports on international dive destinations.

Miguel’s Diving provides a web page for German speakers. Any diver can book your dive trip to Gorontalo with us. Please contact with us for a dive package booking.

DEEP EXTREME Indonesia 2017

DEEP EXTREME Indonesia 2017 marks its 11th anniversary this year. Miguel’s Diving will be there to help celebrate! We remember the first DEEP expo. We have been operating for 14 years now.

Booth C27

DEEP Extreme Indonesia 2017
Miss Scuba Indonesia 2017 visits Miguel’s Diving

Gorontalo Province has invited Miguel’s Diving to join its booth. The booth location is C27. This year’s theme is “Gorontalo Luar Biasa.” That is Indonesian for “extraordinary.” Two of Miguel’s Diving staff attended this year’s expo. They are Yunis Amu and Ispan “Boka” Habuge. Other dive staff remained in Gorontalo to take guests diving.

DEEP EXTREME Indonesia 2017

As in many previous years, DEEP EXTREME Indonesia 2017 will be held at the Jakarta Convention Center. The dates are 30 March to 2 April. The expo combines scuba diving with EXTREME sports, such as rock climbing. It is now the largest expo of its kind in Southeast Asia. At DEEP EXTREME Indonesia 2017, we are offering discount dive packages. Drop by to see us!

Friends Old & New

Imran Ahmad
Mr. Imran Ahmad with his whale shark photo

The Gorontalo booth for DEEP EXTREME Indonesia 2017 contains a dramatic whale shark photo from Gorontalo. It is courtesy of Mr. Imran Ahmad. He will give a special presentation of his photograph work from Gorontalo on 1 April at the Mini Stage. His whale shark photo, called “Destiny,” received over 11, 000 likes on our Facebook page. Gorontalo is a great place for underwater photos, whether wide angle or macro.

Also part of the Gorontalo booth is the wall of friends. Over 40 photographs of some of our Indonesian guests are featured. Some international divers also joined. Finding your photo or those of friends makes great fun.

If you could not meet us in person, please book your dive trip with us.

Schooling Bigeye Scad in Gorontalo

Bigeye scad can form large schools in quiet inshore areas of Gorontalo.

Thousands in Synchronized Motion

For several weeks in October 2016 a large school of Bigeye scad called Olele Bay home. Actually, this is a typical pattern for this fish. Since they hunt for food mostly at night, they gather in large schools during the day. During daylight hours they do not travel much. This was certainly true of the scad found in Olele.

With undetectable communication, the fish school moved and changed directions all at once. Their movements and direction showed astounding synchronization. Watch for yourself in the video below. At one point, they swam into the sunlight. Notice how the sunbeams danced around the school of fish.

Bigeye Scad

The scientific name of this oceanic fish is Selar crumenophthalmus. It is found in tropical regions worldwide, including equatorial Gorontalo. The local name of the fish in Gorontalo language is “oci.” It is a fast reproducing species and plays an important part in the local diet. One fish is the right size for one person. Other common names in English include Purse-eye or Goggle-eyed scad.

Bigeye scad schooling
Schooling Bigeye scad

The Bigeye scad is considered pelagic since it is associated with the open ocean rather than the reef. In Gorontalo, ocean depths plunge several kilometers just off the beach. That is why pelagic species including whale sharks swim right over the coral slopes of Gorontalo.

Inshore or Offshore

When they are swimming close to shore, Bigeye scad eat small shrimps, invertebrates and forams. When they are in open ocean conditions, these scad will eat zooplankton and fish larvae. Perhaps you notice them eating in the video. Clearly, they were plucking planktonic morsels from the water.
For your chance to see a school of Bigeye scad, please contact with us for a dive package booking.

Scuba Diver Ocean Planet Magazine Features Gorontalo Whale Sharks

Scuba Diver Ocean Planet magazine recently featured the whale sharks of Gorontalo.

Scuba Diver Ocean Planet Magazine Featured Destination

Scuba Diver Ocean Planet Magazine photo spread
Double page magazine photo spread

Gorontalo’s new whale shark reserve at Botubarani Village became a featured destination in Scuba Diver Ocean Planet magazine. “Gorontalo Botubarani” encompasses four pages. This includes a dramatic double page photo of a whale shark swimming above a diver. In the foreground of that photo lies some of Gorontalo’s beautiful coral. Noteably, Mr. Arief Yudo Wibowo took this and other photos for the feature. He is the managing editor of Scuba Diver Ocean Planet magazine.

Research from Indonesia Whale Shark Team

The accompanying article features research from the Indonesia Whale Shark Team. Its members lived in Botubarani village while conducting their study. They lived there from April 12 to April 30, 2016. As a result, they recorded a total of 17 individual whale sharks. All were males. Worldwide, females rarely appear. Furthermore, the lengths of Botubarani whale sharks measured three to seven meters. That means all of them are juveniles. Since whale sharks are migratory, the researches expect that total to rise.

Indonesian Minister of Marine Fisheries directive 16/2013 designated the whale shark as a protected species.

Ocean Characteristics of Botubarani Village

The Scuba Diver Ocean Planet magazine article on Gorontalo explains the characteristics of Botubarani Village. It sits on the edge of deep ocean waters. Near the shoreline there is a rocky shelf. This shelf is at most four meters deep. A steep slope falls to 15 meters. Then comes a deeper inlet about 30 meters deep. Consequently, this inlet provides direct access to deep ocean water.

No net or fence blocks access to deep water. As a result, whale sharks are free to come and go. The reason they frequent this particular underwater inlet is simple. A shrimp factory is located there. For years now, workers have thrown the unused shrimp heads and skins into the water. The whale shark like these snacks! These snacks do not provide enough nutrition. So, the whale sharks still must forage for plankton and minnows on their own.

Scuba Diver Ocean Planet Magazine advert
Become a happy diver with Miguel’s Diving

Miguel’s Diving placed a half page advertisement in Scuba Diver Ocean Planet magazine. We want responsible divers to know that we follow the procedures recommended by Indonesia Whale Shark Team. That includes keeping an appropriate distance. For your chance to dive with whale sharks in Gorontalo, please contact with us.

Gymnodoris ceylonica nudibranchs in Gorontalo

Gymnodoris ceylonica were everywhere! Pearly white nudibranchs with orange spots were crawling along the ocean floor. What was going on?

Watching a Rare Event

The dive site was Tambo’o Fish House. It is a favorite muck diving site in Gorontalo. No nudibranchs were seen the previous day. Then suddenly one day in November, there were dozens and dozens of Gymnodoris ceylonica nudibranchs. Most were about five centimeters in length.

Gymnodoris ceylonica laying eggs
Gymnodoris ceylonica laying eggs

Upon closer inspection, those Gymnodoris ceylonica nudibranchs were mating. Then they were laying eggs on various kinds of algae. A few were laying eggs on the sand. Miguel’s Diving staff had never seen this happen. So, we came back on the two following days to film this rare event. By the third day, all the nudibranchs had disappeared. Only their eggs were left.

Watch this amazing video, shot by Mr Yunis Amu of Miguel’s Diving. Notice the translucent body of this nudibranch. Sometimes, the yellow eggs still inside the nudibranch are visible from the outside!

The Ceylonese Nudibranch

The common name for Gymnodoris ceylonica is Ceylonese nudibranch. It was first discovered in 1858 off the coast of Sri Lanka. That island was a British Crown colony at the time marine researchers were working there. The British called their colony Ceylon, hence the name of this nudibranch.

The Life of Gymnodoris ceylonica

Ceylonese nudibranch eggs on algae
Eggs of Ceylonese nudibranch on algae

This lovely nudibranch prefers open grass beds. Plenty of algae live in that marine environment. Ceylonese nudibranchs are not vegetarian, however. They are carnivores. They eat other nudibranchs. Pictures of one eating a sea hare are available here.

Mr. Bill Rudman of Sea Slug Forum has several observations about the eggs of Gymnodoris ceylonica. Most noticeably, the eggs are not in the classic, smooth ribbon like other nudibranchs. These egg masses are almost messy in comparison. Missing are the pretty spirals that divers expect to see. Johnson & Boucher studied the eggs of this nudibranch in 1983. They discovered that the eggs are arranged in clusters of 20 to 40 eggs. Each yellow dot visible in the video and photo is actually a cluster of eggs.

Divers never know what to expect here because of the incredible variety of marine life. For your chance to watch Gorontalo marine life, please book your dive trip with us.

Fimbriated Moray Eel Cruises Gorontalo

Fimbriated moray eels are seldom seen during daylight hours. Usually, they are hiding. Even more rare is a video of one swimming in its natural environment.

Captured Live on Video

During a dive in July 2015 a Fimbriated moray made a dash from one hiding place to another. This happened at Sand Castle dive site in Gorontalo. Many types of moray eels love this dive site. Usually, only their heads are visible. Their bodies are hidden inside holes and crevasses. Notice that the Fimbriated moray eel in this video swims with its mouth open. It does not feel threatened by the divers who were watching it. But what does that behavior indicate?

Moray Eels

Like other eels, Fimbriated moray eels breathe by opening and closing their mouths. This helps pump oxygen-rich water through its gills. A small opening behind an eel’s head is where water exits the gills. Perhaps the eel in the video is out of breath from its unexpected daylight swim.

A distinctive of all morays is the single, continuous fin. It begins behind the head, encircles the tail, and then reaches midway under the belly. Unlike snakes, morays lack scales. Instead, their muscular bodies are covered with a protective coating of mucous.

Fimbriated Moray Eels

The scientific name of this eel is Gymnothorax fimbriatus. Perhaps the finger-like patterns of black spots are the reason it was named fimbriated. Morays of the Gymnothorax genus have long, pointed teeth. They use these to catch fish and octopi to eat. In fact, if divers see an octopus with a missing arm, the culprit is probably a moray eel that attacked unsuccessfully. Moray eels typically hunt at night.

Fimbriated moray eel in Gorontalo
A Fimbriated moray eel pauses during a swim

Fimbriated moray eels are medium in size. They reach a maximum of 80 centimeters in length. One such eel living in an aquarium for 18 years has grown to 100 cm. The pattern of dark spots are distinctive of this species. However, since it rarely ventures from its hiding place, divers will rarely see that pattern. An easier way to identify this moray is to notice its tapered snout. Most importantly, the corners of its mouth are distinctively white.

This moray eel is found throughout Indo-Pacific waters. It prefers coastal reef of oceanic islands but is also found in lagoons and harbors. It is only common in Bali. To glimpse one of Gorontalo’s moray eels, please book your dive trip with us.

Canthigaster bennetti forms a Magic Carpet

Canthigaster bennetti flows in schools along Gorontalo reefs, forming a magic carpet.

A Magic Carpet

Canthigaster bennetti
A magic carpet of Bennett’s tobies

Canthigaster bennetti, commonly called Bennett’s toby, gather in Gorontalo in huge numbers. They gather to spawn. Swimming in coordinated streams, they fly along the reefs and walls like a magic carpet. Miguel’s Diving staff have observed this rare phenomenon many times. It can occur during any month but happens only once or twice a year. We call this event “magic carpet.”

The peak for gathering schools of Canthigaster bennetti lasts only a few days. Then the fish start rummaging in patches of coral rubble. Presumably, they are laying and fertilizing eggs. At this time, individual tobies can be found floundering in mid water. They are clearly malnourished and dying. A closer look reveals that their tails and pectoral fins are severely torn. Presumably, they have been fighting with each other. Within another day or so, thousands and thousands of dead tobies litter the reef.

End of the Phenomena

Canthigaster bennetti is a small puffer fish. When threatened, a Bennett’s toby can ingest water and puff itself to twice its normal size. As with other puffer fishes, certain tissues of Canthigaster bennetti contain poisons. Perhaps that is why other fish do not feed on the dead and dying Bennett’s tobies. Water motion eventually carries the dead tobies below diving limits.

Canthigaster bennetti in Gorontalo
One in a million

The mass spawning and dying of Canthigaster bennetti has been scientifically reported. The study comes from Una-una, a volcanic island in Tomini Bay. Gorontalo reports of the magic carpet phenomena occur on the north shores of Tomini Bay where Miguel’s Diving operates.

Daily Life of Canthigaster bennetti

Canthigaster bennetti usually occur in pairs or singly. Its cone-shaped nose earns it an alternate name, Bennett’s Sharpnose Puffer. It mainly feeds on filamentous green algae. Sometimes, it will eat coralline red algae and benthic invertebrates like tiny shrimps. This harder diet helps break down their ever-growing teeth.
This magic carpet is only one aspect that makes diving in Gorontalo so exciting. For your chance to experience the beauty of Gorontalo, 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/

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