Great macro dives in the Southern Visayas!

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Great macro dives in the Southern Visayas!

The Philippine Siren Liveaboard welcomed 16 diver guests aboard in Mactan, Cebu Island. For its 10th anniversary the UK dive shop Mulberry Divers filled the Blue O Two charter with a lovely bunch of people. All the ingredients were there for a great 10-days diving liveaboard adventure in the Southern Visayas.

The first day of diving was spent around Cabilao Island. This picture perfect tropical island is famous for its fields of soft coral on the shallow plateaus, and for the denise pygmy seahorses that live in the Gorgonians on the dramatic steep walls. We started the day of with a check dive to get everybody comfortable in the water again. Shortly into the dive the divers were checked out by the first green turtle of the trip. The catch of the rest of the day: robust ghost pipefish, denise pygmy seahorse, hunting trevallies, reef octopus and a broadclub cuttlefish.

pygmy seahorse

We continued our trip with a calm and breezy boat ride over to Balicasag Island where we would spend the next two full days of diving. With a total of six day dives and two night dives we really got the chance to explore the waters around this gorgeous island. Amongst many high lights during these happy days of diving we spotted numerous green turtles, quite a few giant frogfishes, a pallet of zebra, fimbriated and snowflake morays, some octopuses – one of which the notorious blue ringed octopus – and we had an underwater dance with a swirling shoal of big-eyed jacks.

jacks 700

We celebrated Mulberry Divers’ 10th anniversary with a homemade cake by our chefs, and we said goodbye to Balicasag. Next, we changed the underwater scenery dramatically by moving over to Dumaguete and Dauin for black volcanic sand and muck diving. Straight away the dive site Kabayo Point delivered us five thorny seahorses and at Atmosphere House Reef we found a bright green leaf scorpionfish, three different species of frogfish, bobtail squids, a baby pleurobranch, harlequin shrimps and a candy crab to easily satisfy our diver’s appetite for sweet sea life.

nemos

Next on our diving schedule was Apo Island. The lake-like conditions on the morning dive, and the sheer amount of underwater life around the island impressed all divers. Sea snakes all over the place and many shoals of reef fish such as fusilier, redtooth triggerfish, anthias, surgeonfish, snappers and sweetlips. The three day dives in this long time Marine sanctuary proved to be outstanding. For the night dive we headed back over to our guides’ favorite Dauin dive site San Miguel where we caught some nice creatures in our light beams: ambon scorpionfish, cockatoo waspfish, bobbit worms and pygmy cuttlefishes.

Flam. cuttlefish pair

While one half of our guests dived the muck sites of Dauin again the following day, the other half had a family day outing in the beautiful area of the two volcanoes of Dumaguete. They visited a gorgeous waterfall and the hot springs. The other guests tumbled in the slightly colder – 29 degrees Celcius –  seawater to find frogfishes, thorny seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, orange banded pipefish, robust ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish and a coconut octopus arm-wrestling a crab.

colour reef

The next day we hopped back over to Apo Island to satisfy our cravings for coral sceneries, easy drifting, sea snakes, shoals of big eyed jacks and giant trevallies. At night some of our guests tried a new concept at the Dauin dive site San Miguel: nighttime snorkeling. They had a great time finding lots of stuff in the shallows. The divers had a blast with the smallest juvenile Painted Frogfish, a grumpy looking Whitemargin Stargazer and it looked like it was the high season for Bobtail Squids, because we were spotting them one after the other.

Froggy lit w torch

After the night dive we travelled North and the following day we spend diving Pescador Island and the coastline of Moalboal. The impressive steep walls of Pescador, some Giant Frogfishes, plenty of Reeftop Pipefishes, swinging soft corals in the swell and the bowl of sardines and four ornate ghost pipefishes in one crinoid made for a great diverse day of diving. the waters of moalboal really lived up to its reputation.
When everybody was back from a great night dive with lots of ornate ghost pipefishes and green and hawksbill turtles at the dive site Sanctuary in Moalboal, the captain started the boat engine and we headed back in the direction of Mactan.

Picture PH 15 29 SV10 01

The wakeup call on the following diving day was early, but none of the divers complained, because the Whale Sharks of Oslob were on the menu. At 5:45 AM we hit the water and immediately were amazed by the graciousness of these beautiful creatures. The guests had 5-6 Whale Sharks circling them and after a 60 minute swim around with the gentle giants all divers came back on board smiling big smiles.
The 34th and final dive of this liveaboard adventure was a drift dive at Sumilon Island. We logged some more sharks – the white tips and a black tip this time – and topped the list of fishes and creatures we’ve seen off with a dozen razorfish and the last frogfish of the trip.

whale sharks 3

The afternoon we reserved for the traditional cocktail and group pictures on the sundeck. After a barbeque feast and a final good night sleep aboard the S/Y Philippine Siren, the guests disembarked the next day in Cebu. What a fantastic week of diving, sunbathing, chatting, reading, laughing, sleeping and eating it has been. In other words: the perfect holiday!

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