Unraveling Camotes Depths!

Camotes islands was never in my list for this year to explore, while I have heard about it obscurely but never thought it to be a possible dive destination. On an impulse, Angel and I packed our gears for a weekend dive trip to Camotes.  It was exciting for us both, we just love off beaten paths – it is more interesting!  Discovering one new place with little known or vague facts and information is exhilarating!

Still tired from the trip and our rushed afternoon tour the day before, we drag ourselves from bed.  As usual, I woke up earlier than my buddy for the preliminaries – packing and ucam set up.  Our version of breakfast – a mug of coffee, 1 ½ piaya, I banana – to be light for the dive and to save!  🙂  We ordered Filipino breakfast takeout for our lunch from the next garden resort and pick up gears just in time when our transpo picked us up.  We arrived at Ocean Deep 15 minutes ahead of our appointment, I was hoping we could meet the owner but didn’t.  So, we assembled the gears and I was aghast that the dive master and the receptionist did the carrying of the paraphernalia to the boat!  Far cry from previous dive shops we got into. It was about 100 meters to the boat, Angel and I had no plans to carry our 3 tanks each, sorry… 😛

We cruised to our first site at Tulang Island for Lawis almost an hour – we planned for a maximum deep of 35 meters, since it‘s a wall it would be manageable.  We did roll-back entry and when we descend, I needed 2 more weights!  We

got into some slope and the wall – what strikes me most is that there was lot of sea fans scattered around of different colors and sizes like it’s a garden.  There were anthias, scorpionfish, camouflaging clams, hard and soft corals,

fusiliers, barrel sponge, damsels, colorful nudi, anemones, clown fish and crown of thorns!  We did see lot of this sea stars and I was apalled, I was wondering if there were initiatives by the locals to protect the marine environment from this menace.  We ascend after 46 minutes having our deepest at 33 metres.

We took refuge at the white beach of Tulang Island for our surface interval, a peaceful stretch of white sand.  The divemaster took a break and left us on our own so we took a refreshing dip at the cool crystal waters, searching for shells and stones for my souvenir. 🙂   An hour later we moved on to our next descent at The Wall which we stayed for

clownfish on an anemone

56 minutes at maximum depth of 26.7 meters. Again, it was a wall with some sandy slope decorated with a variety

healthy corals

and large expanse of corals, sponges, crinoids and variety of colorful fish juveniles.  We ascend and exited at another spot at site no. 4.

Our late lunch served as our surface interval for our last dive,  as we cruised back near the Mangodlong Rock Resort.  Without consulting my dive computer we descend for our last dive at Lucbon Shoal, in awhile it kept blinking – Error!  Our surface interval wasn’t enough L  We got down to a wide coral gardens where we had an average of 20 meters as our deepest.  Variety of hard corals – there was a wide table top coral, staghorns and other kinds of

crown of sea thorns 😦

branching species in different shades and colors.  But sadly, the crown of thorns had attacked this area and it was so frustrating to watch the corals turning grey and brown in death.  What a disaster!  In my assessment, about ¼ of the area has been devoured by the sea stars.  I found this so alarming, and I was wondering if the local government or authorities have done something to save the environs.  Even the dive operators and resorts around the islands have the responsibility to protect the marine resources, after all they’re making business from it!  We ascend after an hour as Angel was getting low on air.

We cruised back to the beach area of the resort and was grateful we got back earlier as expected.  Hey, I went ahead not wanting to see who’s gonna carry the tanks back to the diveshop 😛  After settling bills, packing gears and a brief wait of our transpo, we were back at our lodgings before it gets dark.  It was such a full day but surviving the almost unknown sites with my favorite dive buddy was pleasing enough, no complaints except for the menacing crown of thorns slowly destroying the underwater paradise in Camotes waters.

The underwater scenes in Camotes didn’t disappoint us, now and then Angel and I will continue to discover more of our country’s enchanting paradise deep down.  The exquisiteness of the marine world and seeing more places in Philippines will always be our inspiration… 🙂

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