Uluna; an underwater paradise hidden in Minahasa

As a clear spring that has depth of only 3 meters, Uluna has a very exotic scenery filled with some water plants. When spring time, its also inhabited by a tropical boita of Lake Tondano. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – As a country that has an identity as an archipelagic country, Indonesia has abundant natural wealth. In order to witness it’s extraordinary beauty, many tourists travel around the world to Indonesia to enjoy and admire nature. Indonesia has become one of the countries with many diving spots which is much preferred amongst lovers of diving around the world. A wide variety of diving spots is scattered throughout the archipelago waters, owned by Indonesia, including freshwater diving spot. And one of them is located in North Sulawesi. Precisely around Lake Tondano, Minahasa, called Uluna.

Uluna is one of one of the springs of Lake Tondano. Crystal clear springs that have a depth of only 3 meters, has a view that is very exotic and mysterious. Filled with some water plants, spring is also inhabited by the typical biota of Lake Tondano, such as tilapia, freshwater crayfish or lobster, payangka, and several others. Before being discovered as one of the outstanding diving spots, Uluna was only known by the locals for bathing. The water is very clear and translucent, this makes it enjoyable for children bath.

“Before it was crowded with tourist attractions, the lake was just a source of clean water used by residents for bathing,” said one of the residents around.

After it was discovered a few years ago, Uluna began to be visited by hobbyists underwater photographers. The exoticism itched photographers to capture the beauty of the underwater scenery in this place. And one of them was me, who was visiting this lake as I was amazed by its beauty. Underwater springs contour Tondano rocky, with visibility that can reach 30 meters, as well as thousands of fish swim among the divers here and there, making it different from other diving spots.

Although the landscape is very clear, the basis of this spring is sand mixed with mud. The divers who want to dive in this place,must have buoyancy or ability to drift smoothly. Or else, the sand and mud at the bottom, will be lifted because of the flapping fin, or exposed parts of your body moving up and down.

Uluna itself is on a high plateau, which is approximately 670 meters above sea level. And diving in such altitude has different set of rules compared to diving in the sea level. It is commonly referred to as a high altitude dive. This will affect the amount of time it takes and how deep a diver can dive, as well as how long it takes a diver after diving in altitude to fly by plane. Manually, you can use the table to calculate it. But, now, you don’t have to worry anymore how to calculate, because divers are now usually equipped with divecom,which can directly adjust the count, as long as we adjust in altitude dive mode.

That should not be underestimated, as it can be fatal, if not followed. Our bodies will contain more nitrogen if we do altitude dive,compared to diving in the sea level at the same depth. And this could lead to decompression sickness. When I first came here, the fish here are in multitudes, and the amount may reach thousands, but a few years later I heard from colleagues who visited here, although there are many, the number of fish has begun to diminish.

Need for regulation and good diving attitude, so that the environment in uluna is well-maintained and always sustainable. The interference of local authorities need to begin in unique places like uluna, so that, could be one of the mainstays of the local natural tourism as well as a nature reserve that is safe for its inhabitants. If you usually dive and love the underwater scenery it is better to visit Uluna to see the beauty of the underwater which is unusual and only in Indonesia. (aldo)