Once again: incredible dives in Tubbataha with the Philippine Siren!

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Once again: incredible dives in Tubbataha with the Philippine Siren!

May 2015: half of the Tubbataha season is behind us already, and with much excitement we leave Puerto Princesa under a full moon promising strong currents and high fish activity. With us, after many Europeans, is an entire group from United States. Their late landing time forced us to leave the harbor at sunset, and the challenge of setting up the dive gear in dusk is expertly undertaken by our crew.

The group is full of experienced divers who just finished a week of diving in Puerto Galera, so we decide to head straight towards Jessie Beazley Reef and give them a taste of pelagic life. After the first sharks and tunas, we cross the waters separating us from Tubbataha North and we find our mooring for the night at Malayan Wreck.

donatos wallDay 2 is dedicated to the North Eastern side of the North Atoll, where between Shark Airport and Washing Machine we get a good example of how unpredictably fun the water behavior can be at this remote reef of the Sulu Sea: plankton-filled cold upwellings, vertical whirlpools, ping-pong currents. You name it, we’ve done it!

We still have some credit in the bank: we have yet to seize one of the big prizes, despite the hundreds of white tip sharks, gray reef sharks, barracudas, tunas and turtles that have been dealt out during our dives so far. As a result, on Day 3 we put our chips on the number of Ko-Ok, a rarely visited site that in the past proved to be a winner, and sure enough a Scalloped Hammerhead shark is there waiting for us. A visit to Black Rock changes the perception of the underwater landscape in Tubbataha before returning to the walls of South Park, after which a visit to the Ranger Station is in order. The marine biologist there is happier than ever when he learns about our Hammerhead sighting and the guests learn a thing or two on the tough life led by these amazing volunteers out in the open ocean during their two-month shifts.

shark airport27Time to get serious, so we take the Philippine Siren to the mooring line of Delsan Wreck and gain a prime spot for our last full day of diving. An early start at Delsan is guaranteed to provide a thrilling dive, and a massive school of Blacktail Barracuda obscures the sun as it hovers above us, while sharks and trevalleys find shelter in the 35+ meters of depth where the green thermocline has settled. Add to this a sustained current and the cocktail is served, chilly and punchy.

Dive two is again Delsan Wreck, this time with much less current and more curious Gray Reef sharks. We spend the rest of the day between the coral heaven of Staghorn Reef and the steep seafan paradise of South West Wall, where once again whirlpools and down currents decide for us where we should go once submerged.

Malayan13With the trip almost over, there is still time on Day 5 for a second visit to Black Rock garnished by schooling Longfin Batfish and Bumphead Parrotfishes, and a last glance at Jessie Beazley Reef with its pack of twelve juvenile, and friendly, Gray Reef sharks and its beautiful reef of Cabbage coral dotted with clams.

A flat sea helps us to reach Puerto Princesa by evening time, so a nice motorless and harbor sheltered night for everybody is the perfect reward after eighteen dives in five days.
Once again Tubbataha hosted us and kept us happy, so stay tuned for yet another report next week!

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