A Philippine Siren Adventure
A Philippine Siren Adventure
Cabilao Island was to be the first stop of our Philippines adventure as we would wend our way from Cebu to Tubbataha. The 14 divers of the Philippine Siren arrived into the Cebu yacht club by lunch time and got settled onto the liveaboard that would be their home for this 13-night dive safari as we weighed anchor and began our cruise to this small island off the coast of Bohol. A bright start to the next day and we were ready to hit the water eager in anticipation of all the great creatures we would see. From macro life we spotted many different varieties of pipe fish including bent stick, ornate and robust, as well as pygmy seahorses, giant and tiny frogfish, crustaceans and nudibranchs. All the small critters were there but also a few big schools of fusiliers, rainbow runners, batfish and colourful anthias… That’s a good start in our long trip!
A calm crossing to Balicasag ensued and more life was waiting for us midnight snappers, surgeon fish, barracudas, moray eels and drummers were all seen ambling about along the stunning walls, whilst in the shallow coral gardens & seagrass beds there were many turtles; simply going about their business without pay attention to us divers. After a successful day of diving we were able to enjoy a wonderful sunset on the sundeck and for some Maureen was ready to give her amazing massage service! Moving on to the well-known area of Moalboal and Pescador was the choice for next day. We were pleased to see that the sardine ball is increasing once again around Pescador Island and jacks, trevallies and tunas were ready for the hunt. Our dive team, Donato, Gabi and Diego, located the two resident giant frog fish and a spotted a new painted froggie too at Tongo Point and after a relaxed night dive at Turtle Bay, Jimmy and Boy, our chefs, had bought some very fresh tuna and prepared a delicious sashimi to delight our palates. Only day 4 and we are being so spoiled already!
We spent out last 2 days in the Southern Visayas diving Apo Island and Dauin, south of Dumaguete. The current was strong in Coconut Point making for an adrenaline drift dive but seeing the school of bumphead parrot fish and the huge of big eye trevallies made the current well worth our effort. Rock Point West and Chapel were thankfully much calmer so we enjoyed exploring the reef at our leisure through the clouds of Moorish idles, pyramid butterfly fish and red tooth triggers. Also seen were the turtles and anemone fish that Apo Island is famous for. At Dauin it was time for some “sex on the reef”, all of us eager to see the shy mandarin fish popping out at sunset. Meanwhile the following day was spent muck diving the dark sand slopes – with sightings of skeleton shrimp, stone fish, flying gurnards, porcelain crabs thorny seahorses, flambouyant cuttlefish and a blue ring octopus.
With 6 days of diving in the Visayas under our weight belts, it was time to head for the open sea and make our long journey to the Tubbataha Reef, stopping along with way for 2 stunning wall dives at Cagayancillo. Infinite waters, abyss and bunches of gorgonian fans, sheltering the Denise Pygmy seahorse, got our buoyancy in training for more challenging diving that lay ahead. What to say about Tubbataha??? Each trip we are simply wowed by the stunning coral covered walls, unspoiled reefs and abundance of marine life. The omnipresent white tip reef sharks stalked our every dive, often joined by grey reef and black tip sharks. Meanwhile a couple of scalloped hammerheads and a silver tip shark put in an appearance at the Jessie Beazley Reef, which we visited for our final day of the trip. Marbled rays, schools of jacks, barracudas and rainbow runners, rub alongside batfish, grouper, dog tooth tuna, Napoloeon wrasse and oceanic triggerfish. Hawksbill and green turtles were seen on almost every dive and we were also graced by eagle rays. After 20 dives the Philippine Siren, with her guests and crew bid farewell to Tubbataha Reef and made her way to Puerto Princesa as Jimmy and Boy prepared a delicious barbecue and we got in the party mood. It has been great to see some repeat guests of the Siren Fleet and welcome new ones, thank you for joining us on this liveaboard adventure, Eva and the Crew.