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 a Saturday.
Our cruise to Mantigue was challenged, the insurmountable waves tossed our small boat vehemently and I was thinking if we could just let the storm pass, but we are far from the shore already. The sun was brightly shining though, but I started to worry when the engine had trouble and stopped when we were still half way, what if? 😦 It was agonizing, the waves were fierce enough to sink us! Obviously, we made it to the shores of the island.
We maneuvered a bit to the north side to take cover from the raging waves and so our DM decided to have our first descent at the Black Forest. Another challenge was kiting up since our boat was too small to do it, the last and most practical was to do it on waters. It’s been long since I last did it, I hesitated at first but I remembered Mario (my mentor) saying it is the easiest way. So I went down first alone, I missed Mario at that moment because he always make sure someone will hold the gears for me. My buddy was just watching me from the boat. 😦
We went down to a sandy slope decorated with soft corals, it was surprising that the viz was reasonably good considering the waves we encountered, the sea as always is incredibly unpredictable. So, we swam over variety of soft corals, hydroids, whips, crinoids with those fish juveniles wiggling over. The turtles graced us, this time not just one but there were six! Always, watching them gracefully swimming warms my heart. So with Angel, it is always his favorite specie but now he can calmly watch it swimming by without getting too excited, before he always ends up chasing the poor turtle! 🙂 We found also giant clams, coral crabs, sea cucumber, striped eel fish and a moray eel. We had a safety stop in the grassy sandy shallows and after 63 minutes ended in a shore ascent, swimming up to the white beach.
Our surface interval was spent for our late breakfast at Dive Special camp, and later to make most of our time, took a walk around the islet circumference discovering its other side. The sun was brightly shining without any trace of a storm! The waters was calm already, so we finally went in our second dive for the sanctuary which we originally aimed for those giant jacks! We took a short boat ride until the side of the site with those floaters and geared up again in the waters. We descend right in the sanctuary, watching closely taking our time as we swam slowly but this time the viz gone dim and cloudy. The variety of fishes have again surprised me, it was filled to the brim I must say. There was a herd of giant batfish, school of midnight snappers, and most of all – the school of jackfish! They have grown in number and obviously in size, now real giants after four years we last saw them! Again, we had a dose of turtles, five in all including a big one who swam from my back coyly as if wanting me to follow her, I watched it in awe. There were banners, angelfish, chromis, damsels, triggers, fusiliers and those electric blue anthias darting, so colorful. There was a scorpionfish too, banded pipefish and variety of giant clams. As we move around, we encountered again the school of jacks, hovering as if not moving at all. So peaceful and relaxing, how magnificent to just watch them! It was a grand display of nature’s splendor. We had a shore ascent again after having our safety stop in the grassy slope, the afternoon tide fiercely carrying us to the white sandy shore. We had a total dive time of 57 minutes with our deepest at 20.4 meters.
Ending our two dives, we silently cruise back to the dive shop jetty in Mahinog with the waters perfectly calm. Have you been to Camiguin? If you can squeeze few hours, cruise to Mantigue and wander around, you don’t need to dive to relish its unspoiled charm. Its richness is in its simplicity and serenity!