The Philippine Siren liveaboard is back to Southern Visayas

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The Philippine Siren liveaboard is back to Southern Visayas

With three months in Tubbataha, the crew on the Philippine Siren was eager to see what the Southern Visayas route was going to offer, and after four days of maintenance we all just needed some real action: in Mactan a charter of American customers joined us on the 11th of June to enjoy just that, sticking their nose in the mud for some hairy creatures. And turtles. And corals. And sardines. And some more mud.

balicasagblack forest12Check dives are for wussies, so the reckless diver says. But are they? Between a cramp here, a dropped smb there, a few pounds too less or too much, and that’s not a dietary concern, divers got up to speed. The very slow and efficient pace of scuba diving was the only acceptable result, the only one we aimed for, especially after the 20+ hours journey from the quarries of Ohio and the mishap on the plane the group went through. So Cabilao offered us the chance to do all of that. And to introduce some of our guests to the dark side of diving. Which has nothing to do with starwars nor with full face helmet masks, it’s just night diving, but we saw a phyllodesmium! Wait what? It’s a cool nudibranch, what else could it be?!

shark airport27Balicasag came next: we went to (diver’s) Heaven stopping by a Sanctuary after having crossed a Black Forest. Sounds like Dante, and maybe some of it has to do with the Italians running the boat. But everybody loves these spaghetti eaters and the Divine Comedy is a marvelous composition, so indeed the dives were all remarkable and beautiful, poetic and smooth! It is worth to mention the current we experienced, that made turtles wear pilot goggles and Nembrotha nudis hang on coral for dear life. With a Cathedral at night, the scuba diving adepts felt fulfilled and in high spirits, ready for the next destination.

whalesharkbigWho weighs 21 tons and has dots on the body? Aside from Madam Mim, yes. The Whale Shark! In Oslob they get fed, and having ten of them in the water is just an average day. You don’t even have to wear a scuba cylinder for that, as snorkeling is sufficient and actually better, so for one morning we got rid of the expensive dive gear, no use for fancy electronic gauges and wireless transmitters: a good old snorkel was all we needed. Would you trade your bubble-making machine for ten whale sharks? Everybody aboard did, and afterwards we spent quite some time trying to find all the jaws that have been dropped in awe of the creatures!

the cars13With the shark still in mind, an abrupt change took place, as we introduced our guests to the highly specialized wonders of muck diving, where survival skills and camouflaging techniques challenge even the most trained eye. Fortunately for us sometimes the black volcanic sand puts a threat to the invisibility mantle of a white frogfish, the crinoids sway just too much for the ornate ghost pipefish to remain a ghost and, well, our dive guides have some special skills when it comes to the muck: count twenty one different frogfish, plus flamboyant cuttlefish, harlequin shrimps, cockatoo waspfish and all the other critters you have to come to Dauin to see. At night, a full-on bobtail squid deathmatch and some naughty flounder party went on the record.

pescador island3Change of scenery, change of topography, and up north between Negros and Cebu there is Pescador Island, where two wall dives offer seasnakes and pastel-coloured corals, an impressive vertical cavern and more fusiliers than you can imagine. Just to keep our eyes filled with sun-blanketing schools of swimming creatures, the second half of the day Moalboal hosted us for an hour long dive surrounded by sardines by the millions, then we went off diving Turtle Bay at night. Dozens of crabs, anyone? Served!

Coconut Point5After a long, and wet ride, Apo was the perfect opportunity for adrenaline junkies and couch potatoes alike to get satisfaction: overdosing on colours, soft coral gardens and bommies while having most laid back diving experience you can get was easily done. But then it’s Coconut Point, which suggests a nice and tasty arrangement. If you like ripping current and schools of trevalleys, that is.

But Dauin had more to offer, as leaf fish, bobbit worms and starry night octopuses were there only for us to find them. Surely when we lifted our eyes off a hairy squat lobster only to find schooling barracudas staring at us at Mainit we had an interesting few seconds, but that’s the essence of diving, isn’t it?

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