Back to Island Retreat. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Back to Island Retreat. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)

Earthquake underwater

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

This is one of the strangest dives I've done. Feel the earth tremble ... under water, it's really a funny thing. It was in Indonesia, in Sulawesi, in July 2007. In the Togian Islands, exactly.

Togian, a little paradise far from everything

I spent a whole week there, on a tiny beach of Batu Daka Island, near the village of Bomba, far from everything. Enjoy the pleasure of doing nothing. To contemplate the sea, to walk, to dive.

The bungalows of the Island Retreat Resort, in the Togian Islands. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)
The bungalows of the Island Retreat Resort, in the Togian Islands. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)

It's an incredible place, a miniature tropical paradise, beautiful. I stay at Island Retreat, a handful of wooden bungalows, all simple, facing the azure water.

That morning, Uwe, the German instructor who organizes the dives, takes us to a site not too far away, Bulu Tuko. My Dutch friends Suzanna and Johan dive with me. Their children accompany us, but will stay on the boat to snorkel. Fabian and Stefanie, a very nice young German couple, who have been scoting on the island for a fortnight, complete the team.

For the crossing, the diving equipment is piled up between us, in the middle of the boat ... (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)
For the crossing, the diving equipment is piled up between us, in the middle of the boat ... (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)

We huddle happily on the boat. Not really designed for diving, it is also used for shopping and long trips to Ampana, Sulawesi. The weather is nice, the sea is not too rough, we arrive quickly enough to the site. No other boat on the horizon.

Under water

It's a beautiful falling. The coral has suffered a little, it shows (the warming of the water, dynamite), but it is being reformed. Beautiful tubular sponges stand here and there. There are many caves and niches not too deep, in the 12-14 meters, to explore.

We are moving slowly. Uwe is ahead with Suzanna and Johan, Fabian and Stefanie are behind me. The usual tropical fauna is there. Nice processions of angelfish and butterflies, many small yellow and purple two-tone fishes, royal dottybacks in English, nudibranchs, anemone shrimps, giant clams ... I make some pictures.


And then, half dive (it's been almost 30 minutes that we are in the water), a dull roar invades everything. The sound is impressive, a little scary. It lasts a few seconds.

Underwater, you can never know which direction a sound comes from. The waves do not diffuse as in the air. This roar seems to come from nowhere. We raise our heads to the surface, we turn around, we look at each other, wide-eyed astonished behind our masks. It looks like the engine of a boat coming overhead.

But there is nothing. Our boat was moored. There is no other in the area. Everything seems normal. Uwe shrugs, checks our air conso, and we finish the dive quietly.

Back to Island Retreat

When we return to the surface, we remain perplexed. The guys on the boat and the kids did not notice anything special.

Back to Island Retreat. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)
Back to Island Retreat. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2008.)

It is only once returned to the island that we will have the explanation. The earth trembled. A little shake, as it happens regularly, here.

A few days ago, already, on the beach of Lake Poso, I woke up in the middle of the night, with the strange sensation that my bungalow, hard, nevertheless, had vibrated. The next day our guide Ynus confirmed that I had not dreamed. He too perceived this slight night earthquake.

AT Island Retreatother customers confirm the time. It corresponds to the moment when we were under water. Everyone has felt the ground shudder, some say that even the pillars and roofs of the bungalows have moved a little.

The Indonesian archipelago is on the "belt of fire" Pacific. The island of Batu Daka is only about thirty kilometers from that of Una-Una and its volcano, always active, the Gunung Colo. The land is alive in the Togians.

On that day, it was only a slight tremor, of no consequence. But I never imagined I would feel the breath of the earth underwater!


  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

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  1. Your story is pretty scary.
    It's always different to feel the weather under the water.
    I have a great experience with a storm and lightning, it was a beautiful dive.
    There, an earthquake is different.

  2. In fact, the most frightening, it was just on the moment, not to determine the cause of this strange noise, while feeling his little heart begin to bump suddenly very hard and very quickly ...

    But we were not too deep and no one panicked. So we continued asking ourselves questions, but without much concern anyway. It did not affect the diving conditions at all, which were peaceful and easy, and remained so. After all, yes, it could have been a boat that we would not have seen.

    On the return, in retrospect, one is at the same time relieved to have a rational explanation and a little frightened by this explanation.

    I never plunged under lightning. It must be a strange experience. Surely beautiful, but otherwise more scary, no?

  3. I think in such a case, I would have wondered if I did not make an narcosis!
    Finally, the power of the elements is always scary!

  4. @ Marie-Net:
    We were already back in the 18-meter zone, so the possibility of narcosis was very unlikely, fortunately. One thing is certain, we are very little in the face of nature, be it telluric phenomena or storms ...

    @ Helen:
    And you think, between divers, we then re-told them, all these stories that have circulated so much! But hey, we're still not going to compare this curious event without consequence with the murderous wave of so sad memory.

  5. It is true that since the tsunami, the button "panic" snaps more easily ... I have already experienced an earthquake in the tunnel leading me to a subway station in Taipei. Really strange feeling of having the impression that the soil is changing ... into waves! Fortunately, it was pretty brief.

  6. Hello Titbulle,

    Fortunately no one was unhooking some distant grenades in that corner! As the sounds spread 5 times faster than in the air, the fishermen would have already sped with their stunned fish ... Because, to tell the truth, they would have left the divers stunned on the belly.

    That said, hearing the effects of an earthquake is an experience we do not forget, much like the silence of the flight of a squadron of manta rays.

    Devil, I did not dive in June / July 2008. The last was in December 2007 in ... Sulawesi. I will read your next trips to get drunk from a little paradise in Southeast Asia, out and under water.

  7. Yes, there was also a moment for dynamite fishing. Except that it has in principle more course in the corner ... Well, I think I would have preferred to attend the silent flight of manta rays.

    The next dives for me will normally be late February - early March. I will give myself the luxury of a return to Thailand and certainly a new incursion on the side of the Similan. It is there, in Richelieu Rock, that I saw for the first time of my life (it was in 2006) mantas ... I then intend to go further south, on the side of Koh Tarutao. But I will come back to talk about it.

  8. I don't know Thailand yet 😥 and I can't put a picture of Nike, Bali's manta ray squadron leader on this post 🙁

    But I'm waiting for your articles (soon?) On your next trip that could give me ideas of escape (final?) 8)

    • Added October 5, by Corinne •
    "I add in your comment the photo of Nike the manta, you sent me. Superb, thank you orion56! "

    Nike, the manta ray - by Orion56

  9. @ orion56:

    Send me the photo of your chief manta by email, I will insert it in your comment:

    As for Thailand, I went there often on vacation. Of all the countries where I have been hanging my flip flops in Asia, I think it's really my favorite destination. I always enjoy going back.

    With regard to "definitive" escapes, I think it is becoming difficult for foreigners to settle there, because Thailand has strengthened its immigration laws. Beyond 90 days, special permits and a work contract are now required. No more "visas run" of yesteryear. But a new "frequent flyer" card has just been put in place: