Diving Tubbataha is Whale Shark – Tastic!
The Philippine Siren liveaboard was once again ready to dive Tubbataha with a brand new group of divers! First stop, Malayan Wreck. We jumped in and did our check dive. And straight away one of the groups spotted a nurse shark hanging around. Not bad for the first few minutes of the first dive. The nurse shark was followed by lots of his distant relatives, the whitetip reef sharks and the grey reef sharks. We spotted them everywhere. After the second dive and yet again another nice lunch we visited the Park Ranger Station and got a tour around by the very friendly rangers. Two more dives along the south walls of the North Atoll brought us lots of sharks and dramatic views on overhangs with massive gorgonians and sea fans. We were lucky with the visibility that was u to 30 meters at places.
We woke up early to yet again an amazing day for diving. A slight breeze, very little current and blue everywhere; both in the sky, as well as in the sea. We jumped into an aquarium at Delsan Wreck dive site. The visibility was amazing with seemingly endless views over its lovely coral formations. Towards the corner of the atoll we found big schools of fish. Bigeye trevallies and different kinds of barracuda were roaming the shallow plateau. Dogtooth tuna, grey reef sharks and giant trevallies were always on the lookout for an easy snack. The second dive at Staghorn point was another aquarium dive and it became an awesome dive the minute we spotted a nice size whaleshark swimming along the wall. The rare sailfin snappers, a massive school of bigeye trevallies, and the plentiful midnight snappers added some more spice to the dive. We added two more dives with similar goodies and we all concluded that it had been a great day; one to remember.
After a gorgeous sunrise we jumped in at the dive site Ko-ok – named after a bird that rules the airspace there. Lots of fish action and seeing the fun of it all made it a great ride to be in. Moving over to the next site we already got a bit of a taste of what was to come: wind picking up and waves rolling the boat. Diving in at Black Rock we found nice and calm conditions under water and we spotted great stuff: several manta rays, devil rays and a scalloped hammerhead. The current changed and we got a fun ride to finish the dive. It was three for the price of one when we got in the water at Black Rock South, because the current took us along three dive sites. Black Rock South, Black Rock and Black Rock North. Massive schools of midnight snappers and harlequin sweetlips started parade, and it all ended with the mantas at the cleaning stations. After the dive, we moved the Philippine Siren to North Atoll for the last dive. The wall of Wall Street was filled with gorgonians, a whale shark and at a corner in the reef we found a pack of 6-8 reef sharks hunting together with some giant trevallies. We surfaced to an awesome sunset, and speeding back to the Philippine Siren we saw only happy faces in the dinghies.
With red footed boobies circling the boat we started the dive briefing for the early morning dive at Shark Airport. After jumping in we again encountered a nice current taking us over two neighbouring dive sites. We ended the dive at Washing Machine after having spotted a marbled stingray, some pretty relaxed hawksbill turtles, big schools of bigeye trevallies and surgeonfish, and the obvious whitetip reef sharks. Five devil rays and a whale shark were swimming around… that sounds like the beginning of a joke. But it wasn’t. On the second dive of the day that is what we encountered, along with a massive school of bigeye trevallies in the shallows, and some random reef sharks here and there. We decided to stick around in the area for the two remaining dives of the day, because so far it had been a rewarding dive day. The third and the fourth dive again brought us a great hammerhead, tons of funny looking nesting oceanic triggerfish, and whale sharks. One in dive three and two(!) in dive four. With still two dives to go the next day, we laughed and said to each other that most of the lists of the divers were already fully ticked off.
We began the last day of diving with a fishbowl of a dive. We jumped in at the northeast side of Jessie Beazley Reef finding an unbelievable amount of reef fish busying around the walls and shallow plateau. Thousands and thousands of damsels, pyramid butterflyfish, surgeonfish, fusiliers, redtooth triggerfish and anthias were all around the divers. This reef looks so healthy and alive it feels like a celebration of life, light and colours. After breakfast we rounded the boat for some pictures of the blue sails that we swapped during the week. The second dive was the last of the trip and we can say it left quite an impression on the guests on what Tubbataha currents can be like. We jumped in with few ripples on the surface and were gently taken along the wall. Getting nearer to the corner the current really started picking up to a genuine Tubbataha down current on the far corner slope. It took a bit of a struggle to get back in shallower waters and put the happy smiles back on the faces, but the sheer amount of fish we encountered on the corner was unbelievable. In the afternoon we raised our glasses and toasted on the Whale Sharks and other goodies of the past week. What a wonderful trip it had been.