Happy days diving in Tubbataha!
Another great diving trip adventure in Tubbataha was waiting for the new Philippine Siren guests! It was a mixed group of different ages and nationalities, but they all shared the same love: the underwater world. We took them through the different boat, safety and general dive procedures briefings and everybody assembled their scuba diving gear.
We got up nice and early and got ready for the check dive. We chose the nice and calm South East Wall of Jessie Beazley Reef to get comfortable in the water again. The dramatic steep wall and gorgeous shallow plateau made for a great first dive of the trip. We spotted white tip reef sharks, a silvertip reef shark and some grey reef sharks, as well as dogtooth tuna and lots and lots of soft corals waving in the gentle surge. We continued spotting more sharks in the second dive, which was another gentle drift dive along the wall and ending on the reef top. Distinct features in this dive where the massive coral boulders that dotted the reef top. They proofed to be great spots for encountering resting sharks and spiny lobsters.
After the dive we continued further East to Tubbataha North Atoll for the two remaining dives of the day. We chose the dive site Malayan Wreck on the west side of the atoll and were treated on lots of fish action. Visibility wasn’t the best we’ve seen, but that was made up by big chunky grey reef sharks, a marbled ray and a fun drifting along the walls and though big schools of fish.
For the dive guides, one of the favorite dive sites of Tubbataha Reefs National Park is Delsan Wreck. The wreck itself lies on top of the reef and it is not why we go there. The real attraction here is the nearby corner of the reef. Two currents usually come together here and end up in up and down currents, bringing along lots of nutrients, and with that the whole food chain. We jumped in early, and started drifting along the wall towards the corner. When we arrived we were treated on some spectacular fish action: giant trevally and dogtooth tuna hunting a massive school of big-eyed trevallies. Soon the hunters were joined by grey reef sharks and whitetip reef sharks. A little further we stumbled upon a school of chevron barracuda and to top this awesome dive off we saw a whale shark doing a drive by, shooting glances at us.
The rest of the day we dived at or near Delsan Wreck and encountered a big school of batfish, a marbled stingray hanging out on the reef top, grey reef sharks and hammerheads, and the nice dramatic scenery of the gorgonians and soft corals on the dive site southwest wall.
For many guests another favorite dive site is Black Rock on the northeast side of the south atoll. It’s another corner in the reef structure that attracts loads of fish life. It is a good spot for encountering the rare stuff such as: mantas, hammerheads and whale sharks. So we kept our fingers crossed the whole night and jumped in just after sunrise for the first dive of the day. Right on the first dive we were lucky finding: hammerheads, manta rays and eagle rays. The mantas and eagle rays kept showing up in the other dives of the day, but we also spotted: a nurse shark, massive schools of midnight snappers and harlequin sweetlips, pickhandle and chevron barracudas, and huge dogtooth tunas. Obviously we also found the usual suspects patrolling the reef; the whitetip and grey reef sharks where everywhere. After the fourth dive we drove the boat south, keeping a picture perfect sunset on starboard side. Soon we arrived at our spot for the night, and while dark settled in around us we had a lovely dinner prepared by our chefs Boy and Joanry.
The dive site Ko-ok on the South Atoll is supposedly named after a local bird. We didn’t see many of them under water, but some of us did spot a scalloped hammerhead and a thresher shark – not bad either. This site is also known for the large school of bumphead parrotfish, that we saw cruising by also. After the dive we headed over for the North Atoll where we dived at Wall Street, Gorgonian Channel and Amos Rock. Between dives two and three we visited the park ranger station. The rangers were more than happy to see some new faces. The guys are on two months shifts staying at the ranger station, which is in the middle of nowhere really. They’re doing a great job protecting the park and facilitating marine research. So we enjoyed their little tour and their explanation about their daily life at the station. The catch of the day at the remaining three dives was: reef mantas, marbled stingrays, huge spiny lobsters, lots of big bellied grey reef sharks and a hawksbill turtle munching on some soft coral. Happy days.
At 04:00 AM the boat engine awoke for his long day of work. First we drove two hours to the northeast of the North Atoll for the last two dives of the trip, and after the dives we started the 12 hour journey back to our home port in Puerto Princesa. But, let’s first report on the two dives, because they were great ones. The small to medium pace current at the neighboring dive sites Shark Airport and Washing Machine was nice and comfortable and took us twice over both sites. We spotted a whole array of cool things: a very curious scalloped hammerhead, eight wihitetip reef sharks lined up on the sea bottom, being teased by a massive school of big-eyed trevallies, waving soft corals on a stunning ref top ledge and some pretty tranquil green turtles.
We surfaced from the second dive and got back to the Phillipine Siren where the crew was already waiting for the guests to help them washing their gear and hang it out to dry before packing.
We shared big friendly hugs and waves and wished everybody safe onward travels. We urged them to come back to the Philippine Siren soon, because they were a fun group and there is plenty more to explore in the Philippines!