Southern Visayas Underwater Photography
Southern Visayas with Mark Strickland & Chris Huss
On Luxury Liveaboard Philippine Siren
We left from our home port in Mactan – Cebu on the 20th of June for our 10 day cruise on dive liveaboard “Philippine Siren”. Shortly after leaving port everybody started to feel at home and made themselves comfortable. We were quite an international group of divers from Australia, UK, Canada, USA and Spain. This truly special trip was designed as a photo workshop and we were honored to welcome two internationally known photographers on board: Famous Mark Strickland and his business partner Chris Huss, who made this trip extraordinary with their good spirit, humor and willingness to share their knowledge about underwater photography.
Arrival day was spent with settling in and starting to feel at home, preparing for the first dive tomorrow morning and of course to set up cameras and to make sure the right lenses (macro or wide angle) were put on, whilst discussing different photo techniques and picture approaches, all followed of course by dive stories and how to get the best picture of a tiger shark without getting eaten… which I have to admit the chance is pretty slim in Southern Visayas.
Our trip lead us through the Southern Visayas region, starting in Cabilao, followed by Panglao, Moalboal, Pescador Island, Dauin (black sand diving), Apo Island, Balicasag and back home to Cebu. The area is known for its abundance of macro life but offers also great “wide angle” opportunities with its beautiful colored reefs and sheer assortments of soft and hard corals. All divers were thrilled by the healthy variety of corals, critters, reef fish and fish schools we even had a chance encounter with a Manta Ray and there were of course the huge school of Big Eye Jacks, Barracudas (Chevron and Great Barracuda) at Balicasag, along with Big Mouth Mackerels, Tunas and Green + Hawksbill Turtles to name just a few of the bigger fellas we enjoyed diving with. On the smaller side we were thrilled with a large variety of Frogfish (Giant, Warty, Painted, and Clown), Ornate and Robust Ghost Pipefish, Moray Eels in all colors and shapes, Blue Ring Octopus, Wonderpus, Bobtail Squid, all sorts of Shrimps and Crabs which would be too long to count them all (Orangutan Crab, Xeno Crab, Porcelain Crab, Peacock Mantis Shrimp and Skeleton Shrimp amongst them). Not to forget all the different Flatworms, Nudibranch, Dragonets, Scorpion and Stonefish, as well as Black Banded Sea Snakes and Pipefish…. A real photographers delight!
Throughout the trip Mark and Chris organised very interesting and informative photography seminars all displayed on the flat screen TV in the lounge and in addition they introduced and presented new destinations with some of the amazing pictures that they have been taken over the years. Thanks a lot for this guys, I guess we all learned a lot about underwater photography and have a few new holiday destinations to consider with the Siren Fleet!!!
Another highlight of the trip was definitely the announcement “sails up”, which we did on our last day of the trip as the weather gods were with us with sunshine and good winds! Everybody had the opportunity to hop in one of our dinghies and drive around the yacht to see her in her full glory, and she does look very beautiful!! Throughout our trip and between all dives we were spoiled with delicious meals or snacks, not to forget the entertaining meal briefings from our two chefs Jimmy and Boy. Also a lot of relaxing opportunities were given between the dives, reading books, editing pictures or simply having a nap.