Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Philippines - Malapascua (Kalanggaman Island, Lighthouse dive sites)

Today has been a long day.
After spending a night in a cheap hotel in Maya (the only place so far that had wifi and it was good as well!) we woke at 6am to catch the boat at 7 from Maya pier.

I had a little moment when I realised that all these people stayed overnight for us. The taxi driver, who didn’t do the 3 hours journey back to Cebu but slept in his car and the boat crew, who were told to wait for us but due to our flight being delay it got too dark and the sea too rough for them to go home they had to sleep on the boat. We were the only passengers on that boat towards Malapascua so it made me feel bad for them.

But what a boat! Much more stable and wider than the bangkas we travelled on before. The floor and even the ladders were covered with non-slipping stuff. There was space for everything and everybody. Here’s a pic.

Malapascua Island is famous for only one thing: diving. It is (or so I was told) the only place in the world where you can see thresher sharks. These long tailed creatures usually live very deep but because of nutritious water they come up to a diveable depth so we can go and have a look at them. We are very excited as apparently it is almost guaranteed that you can encounter them on every single dive in that area.

The only problem is that they only come up at dawn. We were supposed to do today’s dawn dive but were not able to make it. We only have one chance to see them, tomorrow morning. They better be there!!

We were keen to get on with our dives so as soon as we got there we registered, dumped our stuff in the resort (that is really nice but did not have a chance to take photos) and signed up for our 2 dives. These will be in a dive site quite far away (1.5h) but are very nice. They have another attraction for us, they are wall dives and we’ve never done that before.

These were my kind of dives. During the first dive we saw lots of fish I am already familiar with and lots that I never seen before. And believe me, after every single dive I look through ALL the fish photos in my Reef Guide to see which fish I encountered that day. The best thing is, Paul took photos of many fish so as soon as I have a chance I will hunt them down in a book or on the internet and get their names.

Paul is getting better and better at taking photos so it is getting really hard to choose only a few. First I start with pic and a video of the wall:

This remora was circling around us throughout the first half of the dive. If you go back to see our amazing manta video (the second one) and look carefully you can see that there are a few remora hanging off that manta as well, close to its tail.

Other nice pics. These are ghost shrimps. They are almost completely transparent, you can only notice them from their antennas.

This fish was posing for Paul and stayed still for a long time for the shot.

We had our surface interval (a break between dives that allows your body to get rid of all the accumulated nitrogen) on this beautiful paradise island. It was just perfect except one thing, in the distance was a big storm. We felt so cheated. This place is the ultimate tropical island with golden sand and palm trees but it we could only imagine how nicer it would have been if the sun was shining.

Our second dive was really good as well. We saw something special, a pigmy seahorse. They are tiny, like the end of your pinky so it is very hard to find them. Paul tried to take photos but we couldn’t spot them on the photos, not even when zooming in. Well, they were a bit of an anti-climax. They were really tiny. I’d rather see a proper seahorse, to be honest.

A few pics from the second dive. 
Spot the fish!

We also signed up for a night dive. And not just any night dive, it was to see the mandarin fish. These fish are quite small but shockingly beautiful with all their vibrant colours that can be only seen by light. The tricky thing is that they only come out at dusk so you can only see them during a night dive and you have to use a torch to light up the colours. Again they are hard to find but our dive master was awesome and found them quickly at the beginning of the dive. Here’s a pic.

My wish came true, we saw some real, normal size seahorses. Our guide pointed the first two out but I spotted the third one. I was really proud of myself.

Tomorrow we have to wake up at 4.40am to see the thresher sharks so again it’s 9pm and we’re in bed. Today was a great day with lots of very nice dives, I hope tomorrow will be similar or even better.

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