• 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: 2022

Tarsius genus gains two Gorontalo species

Tarsius genus of primates gains two Gorontalo species, thanks to recent research. Tarsiers are the smallest of primates. They are known for their large eyes, jumping ability, and shrill duet calls.

Two New Species in the Tarsius Genus

Distribution map of Tarsius spp.

Researchers Shekelle, Groves, Maryanto, and Mittermeier published the result of their studies in 2017. In it, they named two new tarsier species. One is Tarsius supriatnai. Its name honors Dr. Jatna Supriatna. He sponsored most of the collaborative research on tarsiers in Indonesia. This new species lives in western Gorontalo until the Bone River. Its common name is Jatna’s spectral tarsier.

The second new species is Tarsius spectrumgurskyae. Its name honors Dr. Sharon Gursky whose life work is tarsiers. This new species lives from east of the Bone River to the tip of the Minahasa peninsula. Its common name is Gursky’s spectral tarsier.

With these two new species, the total species count for the Tarsius genus is now eleven. Based on developments in research, the species T. spectrum in no longer used.

Duet Call Determines the Species

tarsius in a palm
A tarsius from Gorontalo

Although small physical distinctives exist between species, the way researchers easily determine species in the field is by duet call. Tarsiers mate for life, and male-female pairs call to each other. Each species has a distinctive call. The female begins the call and the male answers. Then, their call continues in distinctive patterns as they sing their song together. Spectrogram analysis played a crucial role in the 2017 research. Moreover, genetic analysis confirms the identification based on duet call.

Additionally, researchers discovered that geography is also a good way to determine species. With Sulawesi’s complex geological history, populations of spectral tarsiers developed in isolation. They also tend to remain close to where they were born.

The Smallest Primate

Tarsiers are known as the world’s smallest primate. From head to tail, they measure between thirty and forty centimeters. Body weight is around 100 grams, although males can weigh up to 126 grams. Their arms and tail are especially long, given their small bodies. Moreover, their eyes are large and useful for nighttime foraging. They eat insects and lizards. 

Natural predators include snakes, owls, monitor lizards, and rats. Spectral tarsiers are listed as a protected species according to Indonesian law PP. No. 7/1999 and UU No. 5/1990.

Tarsiers are only found on Sulawesi and a few surrounding islands up to the southern Philippines. They live in dense forests. The two new species of spectral tarsiers can only be viewed in the wild with special arrangements. However, trips to see each species must be organized separately since they live in different jungle reserves in Gorontalo.    If you would like to arrange jungle trekking after your diving in Gorontalo, please let us know when you make your dive reservations with us.

Blacksaddle filefish mimics a toxic toby

Blacksaddle fishfish is a cute, tropical fish found occasionally throughout Gorontalo’s coral reefs. However, its saddle patterning closely resembles a toxic pufferfish.

Batesian Mimicry

A natural phenomenon where a harmless species mimics a harmful one is Batesian Mimicry. It gets its name from Henry Bates. He was a nineteen century English naturalist. He first detected this phenomenon among species of butterflies from the Amazon.

In Batesian mimicry, a mimic species will resemble a model species. In doing so, the mimic gains protection. So, predators mistake the harmless species for the harmful one.

Blacksaddle filefish and Blacksaddle toby

Blacksaddle filefish
Blacksaddle filefish

The scientific name of this filefish is Paraluteres prionurus. The toxic toby it resembles is Canthigaster valentine. Its skin and certain internal parts are toxic if swallowed. Tobies are small pufferfish species.

At a casual glance, both species appear identical! However, divers can carefully observe distinctions. Most noticeable are the differing dorsal fins. The dorsal fin of a Blacksaddle filefish will be long, extending all the way to the tail base. However, the Blacksaddle toby has a tiny dorsal fin near the tail.

Naturally, filefish have a dorsal spine located behind the eyes that tobies lack. Sometimes, a filefish will flick its spine upwards. More often, the spine tucks unseen onto the fish’s head. Only male Blacksaddle tobies have beautiful blue lines streaming behind their eyes. However

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, a male Blacksaddle filefish has four yellowish spines projecting from his tail base. These resemble a small brush.

Where to find Paraluteres prionurus

The Blacksaddle filefish live near the surface to a depth of 25 meters. Its maximum length is 11 centimeters. However, most are about half that size or smaller. This fish is scattered throughout Indo-Pacific waters. It prefers clear lagoons and coral reefs that face the ocean. Although adults are usually in pairs, they often swim with Blacksaddle tobies. This behavior gives extra protection to the mimic filefish. 

For your chance to see a Blacksaddle filefish or toby, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.  

Indonesia Reopens to Foreign Tourists 2022

Indonesia reopens to foreign tourists as of April 2022. Divers from 43 nations can now enter Indonesia without quarantine and purchase a visa on arrival.

Arrival Requirements in Light of the Pandemic

International divers must be fully vaccinated at least fourteen days prior to boarding their flight to Indonesia. Typically, full vaccination means two doses. Also, they must show a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours from their departure location. In addition, they must show proof of medical insurance. This must cover at least USD25,000 in COVID-19 related medical treatments. Each diver must install Indonesia’s Peduli Lindungi app on their smart phone.

Indonesia Reopens with Visa On Arrival

All divers must have a passport with more than six months validity to secure any type of visa.

Divers from 43 countries can now enter Indonesia and purchase a Visa On Arrival (VOA). Those from other nations must organize a B211A visa.

indonesia reopens to 43 countries
2022 List of VOA countries

All ASEAN country are on the VOA list. Other Asian countries are Japan, the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, and Taiwan. From the Americas, the countries are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the USA. European countries are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Arabic countries are Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, and the UAE. Countries with Indian Ocean waters are India, the Seychelles, and South Africa. Australia and New Zealand complete the list, as Indonesia reopens.

The current Visa On Arrival validity is for thirty days. Divers purchase their VOA at a counter prior to Immigration control. The VOA costs IDR 500,000. Payments can be made using MasterCard or VISA. This visa can be extended for an additional thirty days with a second payment at immigration offices. This VOA is currently available at eight airports. These are located in Jakarta (CGK), Surabaya (SUB), and Yogyakarta (YIA) on Java. Plus Makassar (UPG) and Manado (MDC) on Sulawesi. Medan (KNO) on Sumatra and Denpasar (DPS) on Bali. In addition, Indonesia reopens with VOA at eight sea ports and four land crossings.

Upon Arrival

As Indonesia reopens, divers need to anticipate several steps upon arrival. Be ready to show your Peduli Lindungi account on your phone to an officer. You will also scan the code provided in the PL app. Show your negative PCR test. Then someone with take your temperature. If it is 37.5 C or higher, a quarantine officer will give you a check-up. This includes a rapid antigen test. Let’s hope your temperature is normal!  

Before proceeding to Immigration, purchase your Visa On Arrival. After you retrieve your luggage, show a customs agent your PL app. Indonesia now provides an Electronic Custom Declaration form to be completed prior to arrival.

After those steps, you can proceed to your connecting flight to Gorontalo (GTO). Upon arrival here, the government may give you a free antigen test while you wait for your luggage.

As always with entry requirements, please check for current information. The information in this blog is correct to the best of our knowledge as of April, 2022. For diving in Gorontalo, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.  

Echinaster callosus delights divers with bands of color

Echinaster callosus, or the Banded bubble starfish, delights any diver who spies it. Its colorful bands of bubbles distinguishes it from all other sea stars.

A Distinctive Appearance

echinaster callosus
A Bubble banded starfish at Otje Garden dive site

As with other sea star species, Echinaster callosus has five arms. Its central disc is small and its arms cylindrical. However, its upper surface is covered with warts or bubbles that protrude. Their color varies from yellow to pink to purple. Also, the bubbly warts near the center begin to form bubbly bands of white closer to the arm tips.

Moreover, each arm tip has an eyespot for sensing, as well as a cluster of suckers.

Its maximum diameter is about 25 centimeters. This lovely starfish is found throughout tropical Indo-Pacific waters, although it is not commonly seen anywhere.

Despite its distinctive appearance, this starfish easily blends into Gorontalo’s coral rich marine environments. Divers should look between five and thirty meters to find it.  

As with other sea stars, the mouth of this species is underneath its central disc. Small hairs move food to its mouth. Scientists say the Banded bubble sea star eats small invertebrates that it finds on surfaces or the sea floor.

The Surprising Feel of Echinaster callosus

Like most sea stars, Echinaster callosus is safe to touch. A diver who carefully touches a Banded bubble star will immediately sense the soft bubbles and bands. However, that diver will also feel rows of sharp spines among the bubbles.

Detail of Echinaster callosus

These spines are pedicellariae. On the Banded bubble star

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, they are tiny and retractable. They are yellow green in color. A pedicellaria is basically a jaw with muscles and sensory organs. It is shaped like a tiny wrench or claw at the end of a spine. Scientists have not done much study of the function of pedicellariae.  

Predators and Reproduction

Both Giant triton shells (Charonia tritonis) and Harlequin shrimps (Hymenocerta picta) feed on Banded bubble stars. In fact, the sea star in the detailed photo only had three of its five arms. The other two had been eaten!

Like other sea stars

, Echinaster callosus can regenerate from a single arm.  However, this starfish also reproduces sexually. Embryos hatch into larvae and float with other planktonic sea life. As they mature, they grow five distinctive arms and settle to the sea floor.  

For your chance to see a Banded bubble star in Gorontalo, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.  

Sculptured Slipper lobster in Gorontalo

Sculptured Slipper lobster live in the coral rich reefs of Gorontalo, Indonesia’s hidden paradise. However, divers rarely see this crustacean because it is nocturnal.

The Sculptured Slipper lobster at a Glance  

Sculptured Slipper lobster
A slipper lobster in Gorontalo

The Sculptured Slipper lobster has a distinctive appearance. Its body is flat like slipper. Also

, it appears to have two mittens that it holds in front of its eyes. Its body is mottled with various patches of yellow, brown, and black. Many short hairs and tubercles cover its body, and the lower edges of its body appear to have short teeth. These teeth appear banded in yellow, orange, and lavender. In addition to two distinct eyes, it has a pair of short antennae that it can raise or lower between its mittens.

Although it can scurry on its six legs, its fastest movement is swimming backwards. To do that, it uses the muscles in its tail.

The usual length for a Sculptured Slipper lobster is between ten and fifteen centimeters. Males can grow up to twenty centimeters.

They are typically active at night and found above 20 meters in depth. Although in other places in the world, they frequent sandy bottoms with mixed coral and rocks, in Gorontalo we have only spotted them in coral rich areas.

As a bottom dweller, its preferred meal consists of molluscs, shrimps, crabs, and even urchins.

Names and Locations

The scientific name for Sculptured Slipper lobster is Parribacus antarcticus. It is the dominant species. There are five other species of the Parribacus genus. Although the scientist Lund named it antarcticus in 1793, this slipper lobster does not live in Antarctica!

Parribacus antarcticus
The head of Parribacus antarcticus

In Indonesia

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, it is called by various names, depending on location. These include udang laut lebar, miyu uhut, ketam gonosso, udang pasir laut, and uhut. Gorontalo people call it hele paupau.

Although English speakers commonly call it a slipper lobster, it is not actually a lobster. It lacks claws and only has a pair in pinchers, which are slightly smaller than its legs. Its meat is only found in its tail.

Parribacus antarcticus lives in separate populations in warm oceans worldwide. One is off the east coast of Africa, including Madagascar. In the central Indian Ocean, Sri Langka is its home. Its largest range is the Indo-Pacific Ocean, including Polynesia. The Hawaiian islands also host the Sculptured Slipper lobster. Lastly, it lives in the southern Carribean from Florida to Brazil.

For your chance to see a slipper lobster in Gorontalo, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.  

Bodianus dictynna thrives in Gorontalo

Bodianus dictynna is commonly found in Gorontalo’s coral rich reefs. This species was scientifically described in 2006. Since it is only found in the Pacific Ocean, the common name is Pacific Diana hogfish.

One Goddess, Two Species

For decades, divers and fish enthusiasts thought that there was only a single species of Diana hogfish. However, based on Dr. Martin F. Gomon’s extensive research, populations were separated in 2006. The Diana hogfish in the Indian Ocean remain Bodianus diana, whereas the newly named Bodianus dictynna lives in the Pacific Ocean. Both are very similar in appearance. So, the best way to recognize the species is simply by location.

Bodianus dictynna
Bodianus dictynna with a Salvador Dali sponge

Both Latin word diana and dictynna refer to the Roman goddess Diana. She was the moon goddess and famous huntress. The genus name Bodianus comes from a Portuguese word that means modesty. As a result of Gomon’s research

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, scientists now recognize 45 species of Bodianus. These are found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans.

Bodianus dictynna in Gorontalo

The Pacific Diana hogfish lives in warm

, tropical waters. It lives as far north and south as Japan and Australia. Its eastern boundary is Tonga. No one knows yet how the recent volcanic explosion there will affect fish life. For unknown reasons, this hogfish species is rare in the central Pacific plate.

As to habitat, Bodianus dictynna prefers coral reefs. Juveniles frequent black corals and gorgonians. The juveniles also like the ceilings of underwater caverns. So, Gorontalo’s Jinn Caves dive site is a great place to search for this fish.

Divers should note that juveniles have a color pattern distinct from adults. Juveniles have a maroon and white maze pattern with distinctive black spots. These spots are on both ventral and dorsal fins as well as on the tail’s end. A terminal phase male sports a large black spot on the end of his dorsal fin. Also, he will have a black spot on mid anal and pelvic fins.

Adults eat molluscs and crustaceans. Juveniles eat parasites off the skin of other fish. Adults mate in pairs.

For your chance to see a Pacific Diana hogfish in Gorontalo, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.  

    

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