It was a random decision to book dives in Samal to quick start 2018 dive trips, it was like a homecoming after few years of skipping the island. And it was heartwarming that DM Maeng of ScubAqua (formerly Davao Scuba Dive Center) is still there to cater us. It felt nostalgic recalling memories in my … Read more Finding Solace in Samal Island!
In November, we head southeast down Misamis Oriental and revisited Duka Bay to relish once more its impressive depths. The bay has been a favorite back when I was just starting my dive pursuits. It is just few kilometers from Cagayan de Oro and I have good friends managing a diveshop in the location, this … Read more Deluge at Duka Bay!
Still our penchant for seeking less known sites is limitless. As we all knew, the island province of Bohol is a gem, it is undoubtedly replete with many wonders. Last year, we felt so blessed after diving in the town of Anda – it was incredibly rich we regret discovering it just lately. So, we … Read more Craving for Cabilao Island!
Coming to the southern part of Negros Occidental has been in our agenda but its time-consuming trip via Cebu & Dumaguete kept me stalling the plan, it needed a much longer weekend and at least three days leave considering no-fly intervals after dives. Fortunately, direct flights to Bacolod from Cagayan de Oro (via Cebu Pacific) … Read more Seeking Sipalay
After few weeks from our Mt. Hibok-Hibok climb I was back in Camiguin for a work trip, so the weekend was an opportune time for some break after that nerve-wracking week. We agreed to rediscover and dive once more the islet off Camiguin coast, so Angel caught up with me in Mahinog very early on … Read more Diving in Mantigue Island!
I was on my way looking for the Flatiron district in Manhattan, my few remaining hours in the city should be maximized to the fullest. The reason why I transferred to a hostel in Chelsea area and left my refuge in the past days at Jersey City. It was past 7pm but summer has illuminated well the street, in fact not a common condition back home. It could have been dark already, and most likely I wont venture searching a spot in a strange city. Lugging my backpack, I was determined to find this unusual building, cautious yet relying a bit with google map. 🙂
So, I was lost a bit but not worrying because I know I will surely find it in the end. Unexpectedly, as I was silently treading West 21st Street, the familiar dive flag sign caught me off guard. Yes, I was passing a dive shop by my left side – I grinned from ear to ear like my face would split in half (sorry, I’m exaggerating)! I wasn’t expecting to bump a dive shop right in Manhattan, it was a total surprise. I silently touched my dive computer which has been my travel buddy for this trip. My feet just brought me there to brighten up after a hectic day.
I peek a bit through the glass windows with a smile and left with quick steps for my destination. Scuba Network Manhattan was a lovely sight to me as a diver!
The sun was still bright when I got to Flatiron Building, unfortunately it was obstructed by Marshall’s ads installation, so it wasn’t a pretty sight for photos. I ended up at Madison Square Park sitting on one of those park benches, watching passersby, taking my time until it got dark.
If you frequently dive in the Philippines, chances are you have encountered a ribbon eel, usually in blue color gently peeking and swaying from its burrow. Normally the specie is found on sandy patches like the garden eel as they create their hole in the sand.
The ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita) or Bernis eel, is a species of moray eel, the only member of the genus Rhinomuraena and is normally found in Indo-Pacific ocean
Ribbon eels are carnivores, preying on small fish and other marine creatures. They can attract their prey with their flared nostrils and then clamp down on them with their strong jaws and retreat into their burrows.
They are usually seen with only their heads protruding from holes in reefs, amongst coral rubble on coastal reef slopes or in sand and mud of lagoons. It can stay in the same hole for months or even years.
The ribbon eel is the only moray eel that is protandric, which means that they can change from a male to female (protandry) should it become necessary for survival of the species in their area.
All juveniles are born male, generally in jet black with a yellow dorsal fin. The adult males are blue with a yellow dorsal fin.
As the adult male reaches full size (approximately 1 metre), it begins to turn into a female, and turns yellow. It will then mate, lay eggs, and die within about a month. Due to this short lifespan, female ribbon eels are a relatively rare sight.
Females are yellow with a black anal fin with white margins on the fins. So, they are not all different species, they are just differently coloured, according to sex…. which they can change during their lifetimes.
The ribbon eel grows to an overall length of approximately 1 m (3.3 ft), and has a life span of up to twenty years.
Rarely did I encounter ribbon eel in group, mostly alone or in couple which I quickly presume that couples are male and female. In my encounters, generally all were blue with yellow dorsal fins, the latest of which was in Samal Island. I remember there was once I sighted a black one (juvenile) while diving at Red Sands in Talisayan, Misamis Oriental.
I love blue ribbon eels with their blue and yellow color, so harmless gently swaying over their burrow. Their sequential transformation in terms of color and sex held so much wonder – such an interesting life cycle! Now, here’s hoping to encounter a swimming eel out from their hole or a female one, I guess I need to be keen for a yellow ribbon eel next time!
Indeed, there are 101 ways of enjoying the wonders of Camiguin Island and maybe it would be too archaic to say I am one of many who are captivated by its enduring charms. I will never get tired of coming over and over again, last year I hopped to the island three times each with different agenda to relish once more its grandeur on its surface and beyond.
Mountains and Falls
Thick foliage & trees…
Ferns & more foliage in the forest!
White Island obscured yet like a gem in the blue sea!
During one long weekend in summer I went with workmates to fulfill my long-time wish to climb Mt. Hibok-hibok, the trek was unforgiving but I made it traversing to Ardent Hotsprings. It was just marvelous getting up close with this majestic & dangerous mountain which have devastated the island decades ago. My legs went wobbly when I got back in the camp but happy for it was a wish come true!
In June during an official travel, after having a road tour with staff and workmates, I had a quick detour for a weekend dive with my dive buddy. It was rediscovering the island province, surface & beyond. And yes, after the dives in Mantigue Islandwe went up the mountains for the trek to Binangawan Falls in Sagay. We went for the unforgiving trails but the feeling was great when we got there, it was deserted compared to Katibawasan & Tuasan Falls! The trek was engaging, one mistake and you fell into the ravine. The waters was too cold, just right to cool down after the long and challenging walk and it was all ours! 🙂
Island and Depths
I went back to the island for my year-end dive and the weather favoured us, while other regions was on a storm it was like summer in Northern Mindanao. We aimed for Mantigue Island, we just couldn’t get enough of the school of giant trevally and huge turtles. I never get tired of coming back again and again, the point is – we only spent brief moment underwater which is usually an hour at a time, and the probability that we will see everything in that moment is nonsensical. Exactly, different sightings in every descent. Yet if I’m in Mantigue waters, I waited for the turtles and the large herd of jackfish or trevallies. I wished to be in the midst of these numerous silvery fish with big eyes and swim with them or be engulfed in their swirling motion completely at peace.
New sighting of this nudi specie
Peeping anemone fish!
A throng of giant trevallies!
Cardinals & goliath grouper in a cavern
Once again we encountered my favourite species – the turtles, giant trevallies, garden eels, stonefish, giant grouper (like a goliath!), sea snake, moray eel, few nudis and unexpectedly – a herd of barracudas! We bumped with the trevallies at least three times as we went around. We stumbled upon a reef decorated with feather stars, soft and hard corals and hydroids formed like a heart – amazing discovery! 🙂 Angel tugged me and pointed it out while floating weightlessly. My two dives on that Saturday have refreshed me undoubtedly after just recovered from feeling ill.
It was drizzling when we head for the white sandbar in Yumbing early the next morning, a storm darkened the skies followed by rains, but the sun peeped after awhile and suddenly brightened up the horizons. It’s been long since I last set foot in the sandbar, then a rainbow appeared and it reminded me of a promise from the heavens, a magic to behold sending good cheers!
Camiguin always fascinates me in every way, the island is purely magical – surface and beyond.
NB. The split photo of Mantigue Island is courtesy of my dive buddy.
“The sea, once it cast its spell, holds one in the net of wonder forever.”
~Jacques Yves Cousteau~
Last year was an important milestone being in my tenth year of this intoxication, apparently, the lure of the marine world has never waned and after such time still the intoxication is very much alive. The allure is clearly stronger than ever. And again, it always felt beautiful lifting me occasionally out of the realms of everyday into something otherworldly, getting into nature in the raw, somehow gaining a deeper sense of my own humanity in the process. It is humbling and felt privileged to have explored in part the mysterious yet interesting marine world. This enriching experience had maintained my equilibrium.
Ten years wasn’t very long but the journey is long enough to realize that life isn’t what should be as planned by the Creator without experiencing the underwater realm. The planet is composed more than 70% water, unmistakably it must be understood deeply so that all forms of life shall survive. Getting into the water is the only means we humans will understand how fragile and important is our oceans for our subsistence.
Just as it is, my dive trips were taken slow but persistently – one dive at a time so they say, learning from every descent and felt so blessed I sustained this madness. Last year, just in time for that anniversary I logged in my 200th dive! Although, exclusive in this country I have no regrets, being in the tropics I can dive whole year round without worrying about cold waters. And all these sites are slices of paradise without doubt, each of them have its own attractions and what a joy! Together with my buddy we searched the far corners around the islands, to our surprise there are lot of unknown sites in diving map that are at par with touristy ones if not more rich and astoundingly unspoiled – Bongao, Cortes, Maasim are just few of towns in Mindanao or Anini-y, Siquijor, Pandan in the Visayas – that have their own sanctuaries and have endeavoured marine protection awareness in their local communities. Or even watching the majestic Mt. Mayon over the horizon as you surface from a dive. And yes, always yearning to be back in this marine world heritage site in Sulu seas – the Tubbataha Reefs!
Diving, like any other sports requires good health and lean physique necessary enough if not to be agile for the rigors of dive trips. In other words I need to be conscious about choosing wellness which is more than about eating. I just thought lugging extra pounds in my body is not what it take to be a scuba diver, being heavy is a no-no for aquatic pursuits and that needs no explanation. That’s victory for me in a way, I’m still using until now my dive gears I acquired after I got certified – after ten years it’s almost tattered but it’s more than proof that its purpose was maximized. It’s more than just economics, it’s an evidence of healthy lifestyle! 🙂
Silence is something that has almost ceased to exist in this world, and diving become my escape, that deserted place where I could be silent and momentarily be in a different biosphere. You get down unto the depths and it’s absolutely quiet there apart from my own breathing, there is complete silence. Undoubtedly, the spirituality benefits of diving got me to the core, like that holistic consciousness of my existence, very few activities that could match this dimension. I admit and I mentioned this over and over again that diving has become my de-stressor after these years. I believe the Lord has led me to the restful watersthat refreshes my soul. The blue world has been and always be my inspiration in this journey. And I know I shall dwell in this perfect contentment for years to come!
Nudibranch (Nudibranchia) or simply called nudi in diving community are wonderful creatures, with odd shapes and vibrant colors one can’t miss them as it crawls on soft or hard corals among the reefs. They are lovely to behold and if you are sensitive on micro and subtle critters, these animals are exceptional.
Here are few facts I gathered about this lovely animal:
There are over 3000 identified species of nudi, it would take too wide and long to encounter them all
They are color blind or generally have poor vision and can only distinguish dark or light lumination
Nudis are hermaphroditic, which means capacitated with both male & female reproductive organs. Being solitary in nature, it needs to maximize their mating ability for reproduction
It has very short life span, it can only live not more than one year so there is no chance to encounter the same nudi in the next dive
They got their colors from their food, it has the ability to absorb and incorporate the tint & shade of their prey into their tissues such as anemones or sponges
Generally, it’s not for human consumption – often referred to as “butterfly of the ocean” due to vivid vibrant color and their intense toxicity – generally their loud color is a warning sign!
I love nudis and my dive won’t be complete if I don’t find one, I would conclude that the particular reef lacks the necessary as habitat for the critters and so not healthy. And I would reflect that perhaps I went too fast not to notice if there was one. With more than 3000 species, one can imagine how vast and mysterious our ocean can be!
In my year-end dive, we discovered this reef as we went around in the island sanctuary, perfectly decorated with feather stars, whips, soft & hard corals. Very symbolic and a gentle reminder for our love of the ocean and marine world in general. Just needed keen eyes, I was beaming when we spotted this corner! 🙂
We’re now into the swing of the new year putting in place each one’s agenda, may the force of love our motivation in our journey – our passions, dreams, and aspirations.
Indeed, the ocean is worth the love we could give. As Dr. Sylvia Earle puts it, ” No ocean, no life. No blue, no green. No ocean, no us.” Let’s keep the heart beating, it’s time we return the love!
The marine world is indeed filled with wonders, and this electric clam is just one of them. Ctenoides Ales (scientific name) is a specie of saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family of Limidae. It is known by the names of electric flame scallop, disco scallop, electric clam and disco clam. The only bivalve known to have light displays, its soft tissues flashes light like a disco ball!
This clam normally situate itself on overhangs or crevices obviously for protection, secondly, the lighting effect is more visible in the dark. Recently, we sighted the critter while diving in Cabilao Island, Bohol. Our last encounter few years back was in Pescador Island, Moalboal. So far, these are the sites where I found this rare flashy clams.
According to research, the explanation of this flashing light comes from reflection of the ambient light – the clam have a highly reflective tissue on the very outer edge of their mantle exposed and then hidden very quickly, so the change back and forth from the white reflective tissue to the red tissue creates the appearance of flashing.