Another day of more fun diving in the Philippines!

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Another day of more fun diving in the Philippines!

It was a beautiful and hot day when sixteen guests boarded the Philippine Siren liveaboard in Mactan, Cebu. After lunch on board we started the first leg of our travel around the Southern Visayas and headed for Cabilao Island where we would dive the next day. The trip was a charter of the Swiss agent Dive and Travel, completed by two ladies from Australia, and one from Hawaii, US. The two Swiss guests Andreas and Susanne had booked this liveaboard adventure as their honeymoon. That set us especially in a celebrative mood and it made the team proud that the lovely couple had chosen the S/Y Philippine Siren as a destination for their special trip.

The first of the 40 dives of this twelve days diving cruise, we did at Cabilao’s dive site Talisay Tree. The easy check dive got everybody comfortable in the water again.
At Gorgonian Wall, the second dive, we found a yellow denise pygmy seahorse, a banana nudibranch, and beautiful soft corals on the wall, but also in the shallow part of the dive. A drift dive at Lighthouse and a night dive (our guest Dee’s 900th!) at Cambaquiz resulted in more great stuff: yellow-green giant frogfishes , green turtle, hawksbill turtle, great barracuda, octopuses and a whole range of crabs and shrimps. all in all: happy days diving.

barracuda school

Early in the morning captain Russell started the boat engine and set course for Balicasag Island. With the island in sight some guests who had chosen to sleep under the stars on the sundeck got to witness a promising beautiful sunset over the Visayas.  Breathtaking morning dives with the sun lighting up the corals and the divers spotting Green Sea Turtles everywhere. In the afternoon we dived Black Forrest, spotting five different kinds of nembrotha nudibranchs. For the night dive we drove over to Panglao’s Alona Beach House Reef, where we spotted a bunch of different sizes octopuses, a pygmy cuttlefish and a painted frogfish.

nudibranchs in visayas

To hit our second diving day at Balicasag off we dived the dramatic walls, overhangs and crevasses of Cathedral. Highlight of the dive was the big swirling school of big-eyed jacks. The next dive we spotted five frogfishes, one of which was free swimming – well, at least it was trying – and three others were competing for the top spot on a small sponge. The rest of the day’s catch: dramatic drop offs, scenic landscapes and lots of schools of fish: Long-Jawed Mackerels and the obvious anthias, damsels and fusiliers.

Pescador froggy lit w torch

Five whale sharks and a peacock mantis shrimp… That sounds like the beginning of a joke, but actually it was what our divers spotted during the first dive of the day. It was Fanny’s 100th dive, and what a dive it turned out to be.
After the whale shark dive we drove the boat over to Dauin for some change of scenery. The black volcanic sand of the island of Negros made for great muck diving. The first dive we spotted five thorny seahorses, and the following dive brought us flamboyant cuttlefish, snake eels, ornate ghost pipefish, ambon scorpionfish and two very cute baby painted frogfishes.

whale sharks

As part of the adventure package we had some choppy conditions making our way over to old time marine sanctuary Apo Island. Nonetheless, when we got there the dives were great and it was in particular the endless healthy coral fields that astonished the divers. We encountered schools of reef fish everywhere: anthias, damsels, bluetooth triggerfish, surgeonfish. Easily pedaling along the coral formations we furthermore spotted the usual suspects at Apo:  banded sea snakes, big schools of reef fish and green and hawksbill turtles. One of the restrictions of the marine park is that we can’t dive there at night, so for the night dive we headed back to Dauin. Sticking our heads in the black volcanic sand we found: a juvenile frogfish, a flamboyant cuttlefish and a very hairy ambon scorpionfish.

Juv. Lionfish

The first dive of the day was at our friends at Atmosphere Resort. We dived their house reef and found two bright green leaf scorpionfishes and a harlequin shrimp with a baby. Nice way to start another day of muck diving on the coastline of Dauin. The other highlights of the day were: 6 frogfishes, 2 robust ghost pipefishes, a range of (moray) eels, sea snakes, a huge green sea turtle and a bright white devil scorpionfish. A group of guest skipped the night dive and took a dinghy ride over to Atmosphere Resort for a sunset cocktail at their pretty swimming pool bar. All together: another day of more Fun diving in the Philippines!

green sea turtle

The famous Pescador Island was on the menu for the morning dives. Dramatic steep walls typically covered with grey-blue  tube and finger sponges. After a photo-moment at the dive site Cathedral and with the sun coming through we spend a nice long dive in the colorful shallows around the island. We spotted great stuff: a huge giant frogfish, a baby green turtle, bearded scorpionfishes, a school of gracious batfish and some unusual suspects: lumpy asterponotus and a liver-colored asteronotus.

colorful corals

Dives number 29 and 30 of this trip were at Moalboal’s Dolphin House and Panagsama beach. On the first site we spotted some more green turtles and found some rare and shy fish hiding in the corals: the illustrious comet fish and a couple of minute filefishes. On the later site we counted 7.000.000 sardines and filed five giant Frogfishes in our logbooks. After the second dive, when everybody was enjoying a hearty lunch, we started the 16 hour trip to Malapascua. The area around this island would be the setting for the 10 more dives to come.

Jacks Sards. banca Moalboal

At 5:15 AM Shu went around the cabins for the wake-up call. We wanted to be in the water at 5:45 AM to have a chance to encounter some thresher sharks at Monad Shoal dive site. And we did. The gracious animals came up close and coming up on top of the pinnacle we had some 15 minutes with an eagle ray flying around. The dives at Deep Rock, Deep Slope that same day added to the list: pygmy seahorses, pegasus seamoths, lots of nudibranchs. The night dive at Ka-Osting/Bantigi was out of this world and some called this their best night dive ever; octopuses, including starry night and blue ringed, squid, cuttlefish, seahorse… and the list goes on and on.

Sepia sp

We dived Monad Shoal again for some more pictures of thresher sharks. After the dive we moved over to Gato Island for two awesome dives. We spotted: white tip reef sharks, painted frogfishes, some really cool nudibranchs and a couple of harlequin shrimps. Again the night dive site Chocolate Island lived up to its reputation of the favorite site of the Dive masters; the catch of the day: freckled frogfish, starry night octopuses, Spanish dancers, emperor shrimps and a robust ghost pipefish.

harlequin shrimps

For the last dive of the trip, we drove over to picture perfect Calanggaman Island. A white stretch of beach dotted with palm trees, surrounded by turquoise and blue was our view for the rest of the day. We did a nice easy dive on its Southern Wall, finding longnose hawkfishes and tuna and a school of big eyed trevally.

It has been a marvelous diving adventure around the Southern Visayas! Thank you everyone for making this possible! We hope to see you soon!

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