After some preliminaries, we speed off for our first descent at the house reef, one of my favourites. Banaug Shoal always excite me, it’s abundant marine biodiversity is probably one of the richest of my many encounters. The sergeants, damsels and snappers, which always come in throngs as you touched down on shoal’s top. They come near you as if wanting to be feed 🙂 , so near as you stretch your hands and sometimes so near your face! But I got a lot of whistles from Sir Dodong warning me not to go far away! The black corals, gorgonians, crinoids, colorful sponges decorated the shoal – being there felt like I was carousing in a colorlful garden. I tried to search the walls for some critters, spotted tiny nudis and hunt for unusual specie. I went around a little bit to search for critters – groupers, variety of anemonefish, trumpet, surgeons, anthias & more. Two big snappers keeps darting on us. I was surrounded with colourful reefs and then found a small alibuag. Indeed, it’s a paradise!
We got back to the bouy line, I waited and searched for the moray eel and there it was! 🙂 Hidden under a reef, a white moray showing its head and gawking at me. 🙂 As if challenging me to come nearer… While watching in awe, Sir Dodong signalled for ascent – I still wanted to stay but pointing to my SPG, my air was down to 500psi. So slowly I ascend still watching the view below, our deepest was 32.9m for 43 minutes underwater.
We went back to the diveshop for our surface interval, MSU-IIT students who were having their OWC was preparing for their exercises. We left with them for our second dive to Sipaka Point on a speed boat and transferred to Seareyna for the cruise. Our second descent was a shallow one, as it was purposely for the students for their exercises. We explored sandy, wide coral gardens decorated with colourful crinoids, sponges and gorgonians. Spotted variety of nemos, sandperch, wrasses, fusiliers, small puffer, goatfish, triggers and long thin sea cucumber that looks like a snake! We found too crown of sea thorns, which I learned Fr. Young has personal hatred as he was been stung once. I was left with him while Sir Dodong were taking documentaries for the students.
We covered a large area just going around, somewhere on a slope we stumbled a fishing line entangled among the reef, so we carefully untangled it and gather almost a 10 meter nylon line. I took delight in touching those critters on reefs that immediately hid and disappear from view. I remembered my diving lessons then. I picked up some trash and finally ascend after 64 mins with 17.5m as our deepest, far from the boat.
Our lunch served as our surface interval for the last dive, we joined the students again on the dive boat. After a brief rest after lunch, we boarded the speed boat and separated from them heading for lowly Lapinig Island. It was almost 2pm and the surface was bit choppy, we descend on a sandy slope getting deeper. In awhile, Fr Young pointed out something which we barely got a glance from the elusive manta ray. I spotted a big puffer which I tried to follow but keep on wiggling away from me. 🙂 There were batfish, damsels, anthias, sweetlips and a variety of anemone fish. There were colourful crinoids – black and green feather star. There were sea fans too, I was most attracted to a lavender gorgonian! We searched for critters on sea fans, crevices and on corals.
Lapining is a paradise beyond the surface, I remembered I had wonderful sightings when I had my lessons more than three years ago. This lowly island which is hardly ever noticed by people cruising to Camiguin, has treasures beneath not everyone got the opportunity to view. We ascend after 56 minutes with 32.5m as our deepest. When I surfaced, the sight of the glorious Island Born of Fire right in front of me!
It has been a wonderful sojourn, three deep dives all in nitrox, a perfect way to end my diving pursuits for the year. The mermaid in me is rejoicing, really it’s all about passion… I’m looking forward for next year’s dive escapades with my favourite dive buddy. No doubt 2011 is a promising year for more adventures! 🙂
- CY 2011: Quo vadis, Mermaid? (cbartazo.wordpress.com)