• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Tag Archives: Diving Sulawesi

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.

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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

Marine Protected Areas in Tomini Bay

Viable marine protected areas are a crucial need worldwide. At Miguel’s Diving, our business model is based on ecological sustainability and community development.

Gorontalo Marine Protected Areas

During our early years of operation, Miguel’s Diving staff conducted a series of coral awareness campaigns. These took place in local schools, village halls and government buildings. We even used the front porch of a house! Gorontalo Province Fisheries Department, the Nature Lovers club at the local university and law enforcement took part. The basic message was “no coral, no fish, your choice.” The culmination of these educational efforts was the establishment of the Olele Village Marine Park in 2007. Miguel’s Diving pays a fee directly to the village for our guests to dive in designated sites. In this marine protected area, fishing is not allowed.

Daily Patrols

A dive guide removes two Crown-of-Thorns from a pristine coral reef in Gorontalo
A dive guide removes two Crown-of-Thorns from a pristine coral reef in Gorontalo
During regular diving season, Miguel’s Diving staff are in the water almost daily. Diving season is November to April. We take time during each dive to clean up a bit of trash or fishing line. Any Crown-of-Thorns starfish are taken immediately from the dive sites. In other marine protected areas in the world, Crown-of-Thorn outbreaks severely threaten the coral reef. Divers will immediately notice the dense and healthy hard corals of Gorontalo.

Vast Tomini Bay

Miguel’s Diving offers diving along the northern shore of Tomini Bay. Other operators provide diving in the Togian Islands. They are located in southern part of Tomini Bay. Tomini Bay is one of the largest in the world. It plunges over four kilometers in depth near Gorontalo dive sites. It takes eight hours by metal ferry boat to cross from Gorontalo to the Togian Islands.

Togian Islands Marine Protected Areas

There is no dynamite fishing in the areas where Miguel’s Diving operates. This is because of environmentally-friendly local fishing practices and community education efforts. Gorontalo Fisheries Department also patrols the coastline. No so fortunate are our neighbors to the south. Although the Togian Islands is one of Indonesia’s official marine protected areas, enforcement is lacking. In fact, there is a petition on Change.Org to urge the Indonesian government to tackle dynamite fishing and over fishing in the Togian Islands. Would you add your name to this petition? We have!

Atoll Diving

Coral atolls are found throughout Sulawesi. Scientists believe that atolls are formed when sinking volcanoes leave coral ring reefs behind. After a volcanic cone rises from the sea, a coral reef forms around it. Eventually the volcano cone sinks. Only the coral ring is left. This is called an atoll.

Coastal Atoll Dive Site

atoll diving in Gorontalo
Bilihu Ring from the air

Called Biluhu Ring by local divers into atoll diving, this atoll is located right off the beach. That is why Miguel’s Diving calls it Coastal Atoll. Waters inside rarely circulate. The jellyfish that live inside have fully functional stings! The ring itself is usually too shallow for diving or even snorkeling. Since the atoll faces into the heavy waves, its upper surface very rocky. Along several slopes, rubble has collected. It is a result of storms. A number of small coral arms reach down the steep walls of the outer atoll.

Miguel’s Diving has not measured the length of this dive site.

Depth: 3 – 40 meters

Highlights: atoll diving

Conditions: Typical visibility is 18 meters. Ocean conditions here can be tricky. This includes tidal movement, long shore currents and waves pushed by winds. Divers should let Miguel’s Diving staff decide whether the ocean conditions favor a safe dive at this site or not.

Virtual Atoll Diving

atoll diving to see Cigar sponges
A Longfin dottyback inside a Cigar sponge

Back roll into the surface current and proceed down the outer wall of the atoll. Notice a basin that is full of hard corals and Cigar sponges (Haliclona vanderlandi 2001). This sponge is one of Gorontalo’s new species. Its ash-colored rims and long maroon pipes are quite distinctive. A Longfin dottyback (Pseudochromis polynemus) cautiously peers from one cigar. Easily over-looked, this fish is rarely seen in other dive destinations. It is quite common in most of Gorontalo’s coral dive sites.

In a hole at the base of a wall, a Blue-spotted mask ray stays motionless, hoping you will not see it. Your dive guide signals to something in the coral rubble. It is a large Cuttlefish. As you approach, it begins changing colors, putting on quite a show. As it turns to yellow with brown bands, it closes its tentacles and shoots backwards and away.

At the crest of an arm of coral that descends from the reef flat, schools of fusiliers and butterflyfishes gather. Another blue-spotted ray swims away quickly. It is startled because divers are still uncommon in Gorontalo. Marine life here is not trained to interact with humans and still exhibits natural behaviors.

Now that time has come for a safety stop, enjoy watching a tiny Flabillina aeolid nudibranch that the dive guide has found.

Malaysia International Dive Expo with Miguel’s Diving

Miguel’s Diving Booth A83

The 9th Malaysia International Dive Expo will take place June 6 – 8, 2014. It is also called MIDE 2014. The location is Putra World Trade Centre or PWTC. The Exhibition has opens to the pubic daily at 10 a.m. It closes nightly at 7 p.m. The admission fee for adults is only RM3.00. Children below 17 years of age are free. For more information, please visit the official Malaysia International Dive Expo web site.

Malaysia International Dive Expo 2014

Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise at MIDE 2014
Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise at MIDE 2014
This will mark the third time Miguel’s Diving has participated in the annual Malaysia International Dive Expo. Our booth will be located at A83. This is a strategic corner booth. The fasica board name is Miguel’s Diving @ Grand Q. We want to thank Mr. Rocky Liyanto of Grand Q Hotel in Gorontalo for its generous help in this year’s exhibit. Look for the dramatic “Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise” layout. Our professional backdrops were designed by Ms. Galuh Riyadi of Jakarta. They feature underwater photo art by some guests of Miguel’s Diving. These photographers come from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Perhaps you will recognize a name – and perhaps a face! We have some special discounts for MIDE visitors. Please come by to chat and pick up a flyer. We would love to catch up with old friends and make 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 twenty minutes. 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. 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.
Contact us here about our participation in the 2014 Malaysia International Dive Expo or to make a booking for your next dive in Sulawesi with Miguel’s Diving!

Black Manta Ray Sighting in Gorontalo

Not a fictional cartoon super villain, but a real Black Manta Ray caused quite a stir in Gorontalo.

A Curious Black Manta Ray Visits Divers

Divers were enjoying a day of brilliant visibility when the dive master turned around and pointed. Behind us came the distinct flying motion of a manta ray. But this was no ordinary one. It was a rare Black Manta Ray. Usually, mantas are dark on the top and white on the bottom. The underside also has various marking that are unique to the individual manta. However, a genetic morph known as the Black Manta Ray is black both on the top and the bottom. The one we saw was gliding off the wall at Traffic Circle dive site in the Olele Village Marine Park. It was quite curious about the divers. It came within a couple of meters of the enthralled humans. This Black Manta Ray circled and swayed for about fifteen minutes. The video does not last that long.

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Ridwan Monoarfa’s borrowed GoPro ran out of batteries! Diving in Gorontalo is notoriously draining on batteries. There is too much to shoot!

A Division of Species

Humans have known about mantas for millennia. However, the actual species name has undergone much revision. In fact, only in the current millennium has genetic science confirmed two separate species. The official studies were done by Kashiwagi et al (2008), Marshal et al (2009) along with Ito and Kashiwagi (2010). Researchers analyzed difference among numerous mantas. This included color, spines, the mantas’ tooth-like scales and teeth. As a result, there are now two recognized species. One is Manta birostris. This manta is the largest and grows to up to seven meters wide. It lives in many oceans worldwide and migrates. The other is Manta alfredi.

Black Manta Ray seen gliding
A Black Manta Ray glides along a wall in Gorontalo
It is named after Prince Alfred of England. This manta is smaller and grows to only 5.5 meters wide. It lives in Indo-Pacific waters and tropical areas of the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The Black Manta seen in Gorontalo is most probably M. alfredi. The separation of species has been confirmed by consistent morphological and genetic differences. Ironically, authorities have long debated about the rare Black Manta Ray. However, genetic research confirms that it is a morph. Both manta species can occasionally produce the Black Manta.

Pelagic Rays of Gorontalo

To see a Black Manta Ray is quite rare. The most common large ray seen is Gorontalo is the White-spotted eagle ray. Occasionally, numerous Mobula rays glide by divers. For your chance to see a pelagic ray, please make a dive booking with us at info@miguelsdiving.com

Dive Gorontalo, a unique Sulawesi diving environment

Dive Gorontalo, Sulawesi: Dramatic Underwater Landscapes

Gorontalo lies along the northern coastline of Tomini Bay in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. As you travel in our speed boat, gaze up the towering limestone cliffs that plunge directly into the sea.  A narrow coral reef rims the coastline. To dive Gorontalo is a world-class experience. Have you ever looked across the equator? Ask us to show you how to see the curve of the earth!

Dive Gorontalo beneath limestone cliffs
Ancient coral limestone along Gorontalo’s coast

The continental wall of Sulawesi lies within a few meters of the shore. The first wall falls to about 30 meters where a short shelf is visible. Below is another vertical drop to 120 meters. Tomini Bay itself is over 4,000 meters deep. Deep ocean water comes right to shore. As a result, pelagic marine life passes near the wall. This includes schooling trevally, whales and whale sharksWatch a whale shark video shot in Gorontalo. Also, we see pods of Bottle-nosed and Risso’s dolphin. Please ask us to explain the difference.

This coastline in Gorontalo is limestone from ancient reefs. The coral wall is highly eroded by natural forces. As a result, Gorontalo has some of the most fascinating underwater landscapes found anywhere. As you dive Gorontalo, notice that the wall itself is full of holes, fissures and caverns. In addition, pinnacles and muck basins are common. Long shore currents hit submerged points along the coral wall. This attracts schools of fish.

Dive Gorontalo, Sulawesi: Endemic Marine Life

The area of northern Sulawesi lies within the Coral Triangle. This includes Gorontalo. The marine environment here boasts the highest marine biodiversity on the planet. This area contains well over 500 species of stony, reef-building corals. In comparison, that is over ten times the number found in the entire Caribbean Ocean.

Dive Gorontalo wtih Salvador Dali sponge
Diver views a Salvador Dali sponge

We guarantee that you will see surreal Salvador Dali sponges when you dive Gorontalo. They are a strange morphology of Petrosia lignosa. They are not found at famous Sulawesi diving destination near us – nor in other oceans. The delightful Blue belly blenny (Escenius caeruliventris 2004) is considered endemic to Gorontalo’s Tomini Bay. We know the few places where it lives. The list of new, undescribed or endemic species of marine life found in Gorontalo grows yearly. Many are found in our underwater photo book Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise (2006). If you are an experienced diver looking for a new location, you will be pleased with the diving here. The gentle waters make diving Gorontalo appropriate for new divers as well. Let Gorontalo’s pioneer dive operator show you the marine life and locations we have discovered since opening diving here in 2003.

Dive Gorontalo, Sulawesi: Varied Dive Sites

Our extensive knowledge of Gorontalo waters is at your service. We offer a variety of marine environments for scuba diving. These include pristine coral walls, caverns, muck, multiple pinnacles, shallow coral gardens, submerged points and wrecks. We have discovered over 30 dive sites, such as:

  • Traffic Circle where a village marine park protects pristine coral and its fish life
  • Jinn Caves where a split in the coral wall creates a haunting environment
  • Sand Castle where strange beauty awaits in sand and rubble
  • Mirabella where multiple pinnacles rise from a coral and white sand slope
  • White Point where a deep coral point juts into the long shore current
  • Japanese Era Cargo Wreck where 50-meters of metal sunk in 1942

What Does Miguel’s Diving Offer You?

Our business model is based on ecological sustainability and community development. To sail and dive Gorontalo waters requires experience of the area’s micro environments. So, we train Gorontalo fishermen as dive staff. You benefit from their local knowledge.

Speed boat of Miguel's Diving Gorontalo at Olele Village
One of Miguel’s Diving speed boats

Gorontalo weather patterns are different from other Sulawesi diving locations. So, we prefer to pick you up for diving about 0730 hours. On a three dive day, we typically return to the dock by about 1600 hours. On those days, we provide a local rice lunch. Please let us know about any food issues. Also, please ask us about arranging a check-out dive on the afternoon you arrive. Regular diving season lasts from November to April. We take you to our private dock where two custom-built speed boats await. We reach the first cluster of dive sites within 15 minutes. The farthest we travel is about one hour from the dock.

Olele Village Marine Park is about 30 minutes away. We helped the local community to create this marine reserve. We also worked with local government and World Wildlife Foundation to create the new Botubarani Whale Shark Reserve.

Services Miguel’s Diving Offers

  • Two to three dives a day for certified divers
  • Dive trips for 1 to 20 divers
  • Five PADI dive masters
  • Dive equipment for rent
  • Two compressors for clean air
  • Oxygen and first aid on board custom-made speed boats
  • Over 30 dive sites within a 10 to 60 minute boat ride
  • Dive season from November to April
  • Custom diving & hotel packages to suit your interests

Please contact us about the possibility to dive Gorontalo during off season.

How Can You Travel to Gorontalo for an Excellent Sulawesi Diving trip?

You can reach Gorontalo by air. International travelers can fly to Jakarta, Denpasar (Bali), Manado or Makassar (Ujung Pandang). Then you take a domestic flight to Gorontalo. We even have a new airport! Multiple flights are available daily. The overland route from Manado takes a full day whether by private transport or by bus. Please contact us directly to determine current flight choices into Gorontalo.

Land-based Activities

Lake Limboto view
View of Lake Limboto from the fort

Popular day tripping around Gorontalo City includes a visit to  Benteng Otanaha. It is a cluster of 16th century Portuguese forts. They overlook Lake Limboto. You can also take a dip in Lombongo hot springs after a hike to a waterfall in the jungle. Rise early for a morning trip to the fish market. Travelers with more time can travel to the north coast. There are quiet, white sand beaches. You will need to hire a driver and car.

Where Can You Stay while You Dive Gorontalo?

All accommodation is located in Gorontalo City. It is town that acts like an overgrown village with its friendly residents. Watch the free range chickens and goats. Take a ride on a wacky motorized rickshaw. We called them bentors. Gorontalo was not bombed during World War II. Hence, many Dutch era buildings are still in use. But in the mix are the conveniences of modern life. ATMs, cell phone service and Internet are widely available. Even more surprising is the new mall, compete with a cinema that shows international and Indonesian films.

Miguel’s Diving offers diving and hotel packages to suit your budget and length of stay. Grand City Hotel has simple and clean Deluxe rooms at a great price. For divers who want something nicer, we recommend the star-rated Grand Q Hotel. We place our guests the hotel’s new rooms. Its guests also enjoy the new rooftop swimming pool. Rooms in both hotels come with:

  • Twin or double spring beds
  • Air conditioning
  • Hot water shower
  • International cable television
  • Mini bar
  • WIFI
  • Buffet breakfast

We can recommend simple accommodation for budget travelers who wish to save money for more Sulawesi diving.

How Can You Contact Us?

For inquiries or bookings, please contact us directly. For information in English or Indonesian, please call our cell phone. Staff are often at sea in the mornings. Gorontalo is in the same time zone as Singapore. If you have not received a reply within 24 hours, please resend your message.

Miguel’s Diving Jl. Yos Sudarso No 218A, Pabean, Kota Gorontalo Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia 96117

To find our dive center, please tell your driver: “di Pabean dekat rumah Pak Fikran Salilama”

Jumping Sailfish in Gorontalo

Jumping Sailfish seen in Gorontalo
Jumping Sailfish seen in Gorontalo
Imagine seeing a jumping sailfish on the trip to a dive site. That’s what happened to a group of dive buddies from Singapore and Taiwan. While traveling to Buffalo Head Point dive site, Miguel’s Diving boat crew spotted a jumping sailfish. It jumped a total of three times. The crew carefully moved the boat closer and discovered three sailfish swimming together just under the surface. Their dark forms were clearly visible in the calm blue water.

A Jumping Sailfish Video

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After they passed within a few meters of the boat, dive staff encouraged the guests to make a video. The results of the combined effort are available to watch in a brief video. In the first segment, notice the dark shape in front of the dive boat. That is one of the jumping sailfish. Next a dive master jumps in the water with a camera and swims after the fish. In the original video, two distinct sailfish are visible, stripes and all. Then the camera emerges to the surface in time to catch the jumping sailfish. The final sequence was shot with a smart phone from the dive boat. Hear everyone scream and cheer for the jumping sailfish.

Marine Life in Gorontalo’s Deep Waters

Gorontalo dive sites are scattered along the continental wall of Sulawesi. Ocean depths near Buffalo Head Point dive site plunge to over four kilometers. That is where the jumping sailfish were. This same group of divers had close encounters with a spotted eagle ray, blacktip shark and schooling jacks. Just after everyone descended for a third dive, the boat crew watched a whale jump from the water and blow a spray of water into the air. Divers below heard the noise and wondered what was going on.

Indo-Pacific Sailfish

The trio of jumping sailfish are actually Indo-Pacific sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), a type of marlin. They are native to the deep Indian and Pacific Oceans. The color is dark blue on the top, brownish to blue on the sides and with sliver belly. They also have a series of dark bars on their sides. These bars were clearly visible to the watching divers and the dive master in the water. The distinctive sail-like dorsal fin was not raised the day divers saw the jumping sailfish. However, the large pointed bill was clearly visible. These sailfish grow up to three and a half meters long. The world tackle record is over 100 kilos. Indo-Pacific sailfish are perhaps the fastest swimmers in the ocean. They have been clocked at speeds of over 100 kilometers an hour. A sailfish feeds by blasting through a school of fish and thrashing its head back and forth. In this way, it uses it bill as a weapon to kill or wound other fish. The sailfish then eats the fish as they sink in the water column.

For your chance for a rare pelagic encounter, please make a dive booking with us at info@miguelsdiving.com

Tips for Drift Diving in Gorontalo

Purple Anthias Digant Desai
Purple Anthias Digant Desai
Drift diving can be a delightful experience for scuba divers. Sometimes this type of diving is called current diving. Here are some tips from Miguel’s Diving.

General Drift Diving Tips

When diving in a current, the most important thing is to maintain neutral buoyancy and depth. You want to avoid contact with the coral reef while drift diving. Relax and ride the current. In other words, go with the flow!
To detect a change in current up ahead, look at the fish. Fish will always face into a current. Do you notice the school of Purple Anthias in Digant Desai’s photo? They are all facing into the current. In fact, the stronger the current the more fish will gather along the reef. They are waiting for passing food, such as plankton.
One of the keys for safe drift diving is good surface support. An experienced boat crew is essential. Miguel’s Diving has been operating safely since 2003. At certain sites where currents are expected, the dive boat will wait in blue water off the reef edge, so that spotting the divers is easy.

Accessories for Safe Drift Diving

Sometimes divers bring a dive sausage in areas of strong currents. The tube is inflated by using an alternate air source, like an octopus. The tube is attached to a line that the diver holds while drifting with the current. Since the tube is inflated with air, it bobs along the surface of the water and marks the position of the diver. This helps the surface crew keep track of divers. This is particularly useful in Komodo where currents are strong.
In certain areas in Indonesia, like Raja Ampat, divers bring dive hooks. This is basically a metal hook on a line and attached to your BCD. Divers descend into a strong current, hook into the coral and watch the fish go by.
Miguel’s Diving encourages divers not to use dive sausages or reef hooks here. They are not needed here. Instead, your dive guide will use a dive whistle attached to his inflator hose to signal the boat crew for picking up divers.

Currents in Gorontalo

Gorontalo has long shore currents that run to the right or to the left along the shore. It is not possible to be towed out to sea by a current in Gorontalo. Currents here are also quite gentle. That is why Gorontalo is suitable for newer divers, as well as serious underwater photographers. Currents here also tend to reverse every 20 to 30 minutes. We have named one dive site “Traffic Circle” because divers often can ride the lower current to several underwater points and then ride the upper current back to the mooring buoy where the dive boat waits.
When diving submerged points in Gorontalo, like at White Point or Buffalo Head Point, the current pushes divers around the point. This is the time to look into the deep water for the schools of fish that pass by. Once around the point, there is no longer a current. Now is a good time to enjoy the coral wall. Sometimes divers encounter reverse currents that are too strong to fin against. In that case, the dive guide will signal everyone to turn around and drift with the new current.
For more tips on diving in Gorontalo, check out our Advice page on our web site. To arrange your dive trip to Gorontalo, please make a booking with us at info@miguelsdiving.com

Diving Sulawesi – Dive in Gorontalo

Diving Sulawesi is quite an adventure. There are so many choices!
Indonesia is the world’s longest archipelago. It runs almost 5,000 kilometers along the equator. This makes Indonesia the world’s largest reef nation. It contains over 50,000 square kilometers of coral reef. In the middle of Indonesia is the orchid-shaped Sulawesi Island. Northern Sulawesi Island boasts the highest marine biodiversity on the planet. This area includes Gorontalo and the Togian (Togean) Islands. Sulawesi’s northern and eastern arms form the huge Tomini Bay. Miguel’s Diving operates here. We are ready to show you the unusual marine life found in our part of Sulawesi.

Diving Sulawesi with aColeman's coral shrimp
A Coleman’s coral shrimp poses with an Orangutan crab

Gorontalo is an official home for the new Coleman’s coral shrimp (Vir colemani). Miguel’s Diving sent a few samples to the researcher. It was named in December 2003. This beautiful purple-jointed creature is common here. It is usually not found while diving Sulawesi’s other destinations.

Wall Diving

Diving Sulawesi includes its world-class coral walls. Those of Bunaken Marine Park in North Sulawesi are famous. Diving the walls of Bunaken is a thrill ride. Strong currents flow along the straight contour of its walls. In contrast, diving the walls found in Gorontalo is an entirely different experience. The forces of nature have left the limestone walls full of turns, buttresses, cracks, crevasses and caverns.  We provide diving along the northern shores of Tomini Bay. Currents here are typically gentle. This gives divers a chance to explore the highly complex coral wall structures. The variety of marine life living in and around our coral walls is amazing.

Pinnacle Diving

diving Sulawesi over a pinnacle
Viewing the top of a Gorontalo pinnacle

Sulawesi is not known for its pinnacles. However, for those diving Sulawesi, one of the best dive sites in the Wakatobi area.  A large pinnacle is found off Hoga Island. Gorontalo has many pinnacles. They rise from various depths. Their shape tends to be like a narrow giant pillar. They often stand in rows. Typically, they are found within several dozen meters of the main wall or slope. Divers can easily miss them without an experienced guide. There is also one pinnacle so large that Miguel’s Diving has named the site Sunken Island.

Diving Sulawesi’s Muck

No Sulawesi diving trip is complete without muck diving. This fascinating type of diving premiered in Sulawesi’s Lembeh Strait. The black volcanic sands there host wonderful and strange marine life. The sand in Gorontalo is mostly brown. A few dive sites have white sand.

Wreck Diving

Sulawesi is not known for wreck diving. However, the bomber wreck in the Togian islands is quite popular. Miguel’s Diving has discovered numerous wrecks in Gorontalo. We offer two historical wrecks to certified divers. The fifty-meter long Japanese Cargo Wreck sunk in 1942. It lies up-side-down in 26 to 50 meters of water. The smaller Tjenderawashi Barge Wreck sunk in a storm in 1993. It lies in four to 26 meters of water.

Cavern Diving

Diving Sulawesi in Gorontalo caverns
Diving Sulawesi includes Gorontalo caverns

Sulawesi is not known as a location for either cave or cavern diving. However, one of Gorontalo’s signature dive sites is Jinn Caves. It is a gigantic cavern split at the top with two pinnacles inside. Many other dive sites have round open caverns at about 25 to 35 meters. These make great frames for underwater photographers. Diving all caverns in Gorontalo is non-technical. This means that divers always can see the exit. You do not need special training to enjoy the overhead environment.

Atoll Diving

Diving Sulawesi atolls is available in several destinations. There are smaller ones in the Togian Islands and the massive ones in the Wakatobi area. Miguel’s Diving offers one atoll. It is located along the shore. The dive site is variously called Coastal Atoll or Biluhu Ring. The atoll’s interior is full of jellyfish whose stings are fully functional. Just ask Miguel’s Diving staff! That is why we do not dive inside the atoll. The outer walls face into the heavy waves. Its upper ring is very rocky and has coral rubble in places.

Submerged Point Diving

One of the features of Gorontalo not found elsewhere while diving Sulawesi is submerged points. In Gorontalo, coral points jut from the wall at usually 35 to 40 meters in depth. They protrude into the long shore current. Schooling fishes gather at these points when the current is running. When the plankton count is up, whales sharks love these locations. Fish life is abundant. One endemic species is the Orange-back wrasse (Cirrhilabrus aurantidorsalis). This beautiful fish was named in 1999. The Togean dottyback (Pseudochromis sp.) is a new discovery. It is endemic to Tomini Bay. Many other fishes are common here but less abundant elsewhere. They are often missing from fish guidebooks.

Drift Diving

Diving Sulawesi with aJuvenile rockmover wrasse
A juvenile rockmover wrasse imitates a decaying leaf

Diving Sulawesi destinations often means drift diving. Bunaken Marine Park are known for its drift dives. In Gorontalo, Miguel’s Diving assesses each site at the time of the dive. Staff decide if swimming back to the boat or being picked up would provide the best experience for our guests. We carry air whistles to call the boat if needed. All currents in Gorontalo are long shore This means that divers cannot be pulled out to sea, so dive sausages are not needed. Many of our guests love shooting underwater videos.

Boat Diving

Most diving locations in Sulawesi use boats. Miguel’s Diving has two speed boats. They are custom-built for Gorontalo’s unique conditions. They provide divers with the easy entries and exits.

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