Monday, 21 January 2013

The Philippines - Dimakya Island (house reef)

Today was a perfect day.
After breakfast (main ingredient was mango) we walked over to the dive centre to do our first dive on this island. It was a shore dive so we suited up on the shore and simply walked into the sea. The seabed was covered with white sand and the visibility was only 5-8 m.

At first we were just cruising on the white sand and we didn’t see anything. I looked at Paul, is this really one of the best house reefs in Asia? He shrugged and signed ‘let’s wait’. A few minutes later we got to some rock that was full of fish. Then Toon, our guide signed ‘ray’. I knew it can’t be a manta so looked around then followed a pointing finger to the ground. A blue spotted stingray was lying under the sand, only its eyes and a bit of its spine were visible. As we got closer it shook the sand off itself and swam away.

Stingrays are much smaller than the mantas. Yes, they do sting but as long as you try not to disturb them and you don’t try to catch their tail they will not hurt you. Basically, as long as you treat every animal with respect they will not even think of getting close to you. Well, except a great white shark, maybe. During our dive we saw more stingrays, sleeping under the sand or swimming around us. 

Then Toon signed ‘cuttlefish’. We slowly crawled closer. There it was, a huge cuttlefish swinging to the rhythm of the waves. We stopped a little distance away. Paul got his camera ready. Usually these animals are very shy so you can only catch a glimpse of them but this one slowly swam to a nearby rock and started searching for food in the cracks like we weren’t even there. We’ve never seen a cuttlefish do anything else but quickly swimming away so we were completely mesmerise by this one. It changed its colours continuously, only on half of its body then on the whole, it was amazing.

 We can only imagine how nice this reef would’ve been with better visibility. There’s lots of fish here when you know where to find the rocks and they seem to be very friendly. We were hoping to spot a turtle but this time we didn’t have a chance. Toon promised we will try to find one on the next dive.

After our dive the sun was out and we went straight back into the sea to snorkel. There is great snorkelling here and now the sea was calmer and the location of rocks was more visible. We saw plenty of bigger fish getting a good clean by the little ones, hanging almost vertically, enjoyment clearly written on their whole body.  At some point hundreds of blue baby fish swam under us very quickly. Next time we have to bring the camera with us.

After a big lunch we were feeling quite lazy before starting our second dive, the mission was to find one of their famously friendly turtles. During the dive we realised that here even the fish are very friendly and curious, they let you to swim very close to them. When Paul was taking a photo of a giant moray eel a few big black fish swam all around so Paul had to chase them away. No turtles, though.

 We started to get back to the shore, swimming on the white sand. Toon turned around and was just about to show us the ‘going up’ sign, when Paul signed ‘turtle’ an pointed up. A small turtle was swimming above us with two yellow remoras attached to its shell. It landed not far from us. We were on it straight away but it just started eating sea grass like there’s no care in the world. Our guide gathered some sea grass and dropped it just in front of the turtle and it ate it all up quickly. The sand was fine and we made big clouds with our fins in the shallow water but our friend didn’t mind at all. It stayed with us for almost 15 min but then it needed to go up for air and we let it go. Wow, what an experience! A turtle interaction time, just for us! Well done Paul for spotting it!

By the time we finished the dive the sun was gone but we sat in the sun loungers looking over the sea and talked about the turtle.

During dinner we were having our dessert when the band came over and asked if they can play a song of our choice. It is quite common in South East Asia that small bands or a man with a guitar stops at your dinner table to play something for you but usually they do it for money. We even had an encounter with a band who did not want to leave our table unless we pay them tips. Therefore we always thanked them but refused the offer. Here however it was part of the entertainment offered so for the first time we enjoyed our dessert with a band playing only for the two of us.

 We had a little read at the clubhouse then we finished our day gazing up at the clear sky full of stars whilst lying on the beach.

Special thanks to the Jack family, to Jamie and Anna, to the Cable family and the Hubbard family for the chance to dive at this amazing location. 

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