Diving the Visayas from Malapascua to Cebu means big and small at the same time!

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Diving the Visayas from Malapascua to Cebu means big and small at the same time!

The Philippine Siren welcomed on board daring band of divers travelling from parts afar to the tropical Islands of the Visayas in the Philippines. United by their passion for traveling and underwater life, the disperate group quickly bonded on the back deck of the phinisi style dive boat, the S/Y Philippine Siren, over some drinks and a warm Filipino welcome from the crew.

The first two dives of the trip were at the picturesque sand spit island of Kalanggaman. With a large school of jacks engulfing some lucky divers, all eyes and flashing fins, and an eagle ray cruising by for a visit, the check out dive turned out to be quite a crowd pleaser. The night dive at Chocolate Island delivered a host of interesting creatures including abundant pleurobranchs, spanish dancers, frogfish, and sponge crabs. This dive is fast becoming the favourite of all the guides.

frogfishthe cars

The second days diving highlights were the thresher sharks at Monad Shoal. The entire time spent at the cleaning station was in the company of threshers, frequently as close as two meters. On top of the plateau we were treated to five curious eagle rays swimming in formation and closely approaching divers, only wheeling away from the bubbles at the last second. Gato Island was the destination for the rest of the day with an exciting swim through the underwater tunnel, a hairy frogfish, some T-Bar Nudis and plently of colour from soft coral.

colour soft coral

The day after was a unanamiously voted return to the threshers, which didn’t dissappoint. Another wonderful show by the graceful sharks and their entourage of eage rays. The second dive of the day was a day dive at Chocolate Island, with everyone curious as to what a world class night dive site looks like during the day. Carpeted in Nembrotha nudis, Blue Dragons and even some seahorses, Chocolate Island will most likely be getting more attention in future trips to the Malapascua area. Leaving Malapascua and sailing down to Moalboal gave us all an opportunity to sit on the sun deck during the evening and watch the celestial show of the milky way and even the International Space Station cruising past.

nudis

The Moalboal area was the destination for the following day. Pescador Island yielded up 4 wonderful frogfish and an array of jacks, trumpet fish and needle-nose crocodile fish, all hunting the abundant anthias and damsel fish. The afternoon diving involved a visit to the famous sardine ball of Moalboal. With millions of sardines and of course their predators hanging around and swooping in for a meal, this was a spectacular dive.
With much anticipation the S/Y Philippine Siren arrived in the Dauin area of Negros. Famous for it’s muck diving, Dauin quickly lived up to it’s reputation for world class critter spotting. With an even dozen seahorses on the first dive, flambouyant cuttlefish, ornate ghost pipefish in the afternoon and a spectacular night dive at San Miguel divesite including a bobbit worm, cockatoo waspfish and bobtail squid, the biggest challenge faced was finding storage space on hard-drives for all the photos.

bobtail squid1

Apo Reef was the destination for the following days diving. Apo is one of the oldest marine sanctuaries in the Philippines and a shining example of how succesfull these projects can be. With seemingly endless fields of stunning hard and soft coral, it has perhaps the best preserved coral reef in the Philippines. Banded Sea Snakes, Turtles, abundant reef fish and even a Giant Trevally more than 1m long made this a destination to remember. Topped off with an exhilirating drift dive, it left even the more experienced divers with a grin from ear to ear. For the night dive it was a return to Dauin. Three flambouyant cuttlefish, a devil stinger, a cockatoo waspfish, ornate pipefish and a whole array of snails, crabs and shrimps, this dive left divers running out of space in their logbooks.

eva turtle 700

The final day at Dauin proved to be spectacular. 14 frogfish of four different types, ornate, velvet and robust ghost pipefish, bobtail squids, seahorses, coconut octopusses with eggs, leaf fish, and banded Tozeuma Shrimp. With a haul like that, everyone was sad to be leaving Dauin…but excited to be heading to Oslob to get up close and personal with Whale Sharks the next morning.

Hairy frogfish

Six whale sharks at one time at Oslob. What a sight. Whale sharks on the surface and in mid-water, coming meters from divers. An early start to the day ensured some time alone for the Siren Divers with the majestic goliaths.
Later that day at the famous Balicasag Marine Sanctuary more than 20 turtles were spotted on one dive. Mixed in were some frogfish, stonefish and morays. During the afternoon dive many dozens of nembrotha of five different types were spotted. A gang of chevron baracuda swam by to have a close look along with some tuna, surgeon fish and batfish.
The final dive day of the trip came all too soon. Pygmy Seahorses were the quarry at Cabilao. While some divers had their heads buried in the gorgonian fan looking at the pygmies, the other divers waiting patiently were treated to a fly-by by a Manta Ray. Big and small at the same time!

whale sharks

Good things come to an end! Thank you every one for this great trip! It was a pleasure to have you on board! Hope to see you soon!

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