Divers didn’t know where to look!
It was another hot day in paradise when the new guests boarded the S/Y Philippine Siren in Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. With boat, cabin and safety briefings out of the way, they started setting up their dive gear and getting ready for the five and a half days of diving in the Tubbataha Reefs National Park. The representatives of the park came on board for their briefing on the dos and don’ts once in the water, and after that we started the 12 hour trip to the north atoll where we would do the first dive the next day.
Early in the morning we woke up the guests for the check dive. A gentle drift along the wall at the dive site Malayan Wreck got everybody comfortable in the water again and strait of the bat we spotted lots of whitetip, and grey reef sharks. The second dive was at the same site and with the current picking up it resulted in even more whitetip reef sharks and one of the groups spotted a nice school of 10-15 grey reef sharks cruising along the wall. We surfaced smiling, and after having had lunch we hopped into the dinghies to visit the park ranger station. We were guided around the tiny station from which 10 rangers, the whole year through, patrol the reefs and the waters in the park.
Back on the Philippine Siren we geared up for the next dive, which was at Gorgonian Wall. Obviously, with a name like that it doesn’t come as a surprise that we found heaps of massive Gorgonians on the steep dramatic wall. Besides that we also enjoyed the very lively reef top with its gardens of soft corals and Anthias in many different colors. We ended the diving day with a dive at Amos Rock where we encountered two marbled stingrays flying over the reef. The first day of diving was a fun day of diving!
We spend the night on the South West side of the South Atoll. Our first dive was at Denson Wreck; one of our favorite div sites in Tubbataha Reefs National Park. We got treated on: plenty of grey reef sharks, dogtooth tuna, whitetip reef sharks, giant trevally, and massive schools of big-eyed trevallly, chevron and blacktail barracuda and colorful anthias and damsels. The visibility at the second dive site Staghorn Point was amazing and looking over the endless fields of hard and soft corals we were amazed by the abundance of life around us. There were schools of fish everywhere and the wide-angle photographers amongst our guests really got their fix. For the third dive we went back to Delsan Wreck and had a similar experience as before with big stuff hunting big schools of fish, but the highlight of the dive was a whale shark that just could not get enough of us. It came back time and time again and slided through the herd of diver photographers as if it was walking the catwalk; a great dive! The last dive of the day was reserved for Southwest Wall, where we had a great relaxing dive along the steep, dramatic wall with its overhangs crevices and abundance of sea fans and gorgonians. What a day it had been!
How is this for the beginning of dive day: great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead and a thresher shark. Not bad I think. That’s how our day started at the dive site Ko-ok, and it kept on getting better. Our second dive was at Black Rock and this was one that many will never forget. Some of our guests saw a thresher shark. All of our guests saw mantas being cleaned at a cleaning station. And one group hit the jackpot. While looking in the blue they spotted a scalloped hammerhead and looking back at the reef they saw the mantas. While they were making up their minds where to go and look, a whale shark swam between the two, messing it all up. For a few it became three highlights in one GoPro shot. The third dive was a nice and relaxing ree ftop edge dive at the southern part of Black Rock; zillions of Anthias darting above colorful soft and hard corals and massive sea fans in bright sun light. A dream of a dive. We finished the dive off at Black Rock again and found incredible amounts of fish all nervously rushing around. Once again we were taken by the abundance of life.
We spend our last full day of diving on the north side of the North Atoll. The area is known as Bird Islet and has funny redfooted boobies flying around. They are quite curious and come close to the dinghies checking the divers out, and sometimes they chill out in the top of the Philippine Siren’s mast.
With dive site names like Shark Airport and Washing Machine on the schedule for the day we drove up the expectations with our guests a bit. Here’s the day’s catch: marbled stingrays, nurse shark, big chunky grey reef sharks, heaps of whitetip reef sharks, hawksbill and green sea turtles, swirling currents bringing up all the nutrients and with that load of schools of usual suspects such as redtooth triggerfish, midnight snappers, big-eyed trevallies, and surgeonfish.
At Jessie Beazley Reef, we dove two times on this beautiful reef, first on the Northeast Wall and second on the Southwest Wall. What struck us the most was the enormous amount fish on just off the walls and on the shallow plateaus; thousands and thousands of different kinds of fusiliers, surgeon fish, trevallies, butterflyfish, triggerfish and other reef fish. The corals and the reef itself appear to be really healthy and it makes the divers aware of the uniqueness of the Tubbataha Reefs National Park.
What an incredible trip! Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience with us! We hope to see you soon!