Everything comes out in the wash…
Everything comes out in the wash at Tubbataha…
It was the time of the year when Philippine Siren started its liveaboard diving adventures in the remote atolls of Tubbataha, in the Sulu Sea. Since our port of departure was Cebu, we spent the first part of the trip in the Southern Visayas region. Along the way we made a brief stop in Cagayancillo as we cruised onto our final destination. After a welcome drink on board Philippine Siren diving liveaboard, all initial boat briefings and dive equipment set up completed, we were ready to depart.
On the first leg of the cruise we took our fun group of 13 Americans from Reef & Rainforest diving in: Cabilao, Balicasag, Apo Island, Moalboal, Pescador and Dauin. These first days of the liveaboard we enjoyed macro life sightings mainly, though plenty of turtles were seen at the stunning coral reefs. Blue ring octopus, plenty of frogfish, cockatoo waspfish, pygmy seahorse, flying gurnards and many other critters were spotted during the first week. All these sightings were spiced with retired marine biologist Dr. Bruce Carlson’s fascinating presentations in the evenings.
After a visit to Atmosphere Resort in Dauin it was time to head towards Tubbataha. All the photographers switched to their fisheye lens in expectation of what was to come! We had visibility ranging from 20-40 meters all through this part of the cruise, which allowed us to spot large pelagics including grey reef, white tip, nurse sharks, green sea and hawksbill turtles plus huge schools of fish. Our first dive in the vicinity of Tubbataha’s ranger station could not start better with a big guitar ray swimming in between all of our divers, plus loads and loads of white tip sharks! The next day we visited the ranger station in the Northern Atoll, where our group had the chance to sign the guest book and gain some mementoes.
We continued the diving adventure dropping into the waters at Amos Rock, Black Rock, Shark Airport, Triggerfish City, Staghorn Point, South West Wall, Delsan and Malayan Wreck, among others. Perhaps our local dive guide Donato is the only person capable of spotting a Denise pigmy seahorse in the immensity of Tubbataha’s reefs. While I was blessing him with a kiss on the forehead, he was still able to point at a hammerhead shark passing by in the blue!
Since the weather would not allow us to enter the water at Jessy Beazley Atoll and look for more hammerheads, we decided to try Ko-Ok dive site since it offers similar conditions. After a very early morning wakeup call and a quick breakfast, we were ready to jump in the water just before sunrise. Ko-Ok is a vertical wall that literally drops into an abyss. Great visibility and blue fluorescent plankton all around us we swam deep into the blue. We were very fortunate to see scalloped and great hammerhead sharks, plus the resident monster-sized dogtooth tunas.
On the last day the wind dropped and allowed us to dive both Shark Airport and Washing Machine. A perfect ending was ours with more white tip sharks and marble rays enjoyed before we were ready to cruise back to Puerto Princesa.
Many thanks to this wonderful group of divers for making this trip so special, especially to Sherry for joining a Siren Fleet cruise once again. We hope to see you all again on board soon!
Salamat (thank you) from the crew of the Philippine Siren.