Great Sharks Day!

Teeming with marine life!
Teeming with marine life!

“Why and what did take us too long to be back in Malapascua?”

Our first visit to this northern most island in Cebu almost three years ago was in many ways memorable, I was struck when I first set foot on its shores. I remembered I was almost running on the white sandy beach after I jumped out from the boat towards our simple cottage.  This is a backpacker’s dream spot, I thought. Although we missed the thresher sharks at Monad Shoal, we had a great time discovering Kalanggaman Island and its depths.  The place is practically left with time, no exact road network. No pave streets but a criss-cross of trails for motorbikes to traverse to any point of the island.  Practically a flat site similar to Maldives, like 6-10 meters above sea level.

Well, coming to exotic place is always posed with challenges, with everything in place the weather was our only possible hindrance. So, a typhoon came affecting Visayas & Mindanao and on the morning of my flight it was pouring rain!  It was almost cancelled but was grateful we made it when the skies over CdeO cleared, Angel was already waiting in Cebu.

Long – Awaited Return

We arrived Maya port past noon already with the sun shining bright, actually the heat was scorching which was to our advantage, obviously the weather would offer good visibility for the dives. Wishing to reach the shores fast but our cruise to the island slowed down as if teasing us again – the island looming larger in view as we approached.  The water taxi (tunda) was there to meet us and transport in groups finally to the station just near our dive shop.  It was good to see again Ms. Amelia of Divelink, somehow it’s more comfortable to dive with people you knew and trusted, unfortunately the DM assigned to us before had left the island already.

The perennial clown fish was there to welcome us!
The perennial clown fish was there to welcome us!

We left hurriedly after the necessary arrangements for the next day dives, with no decent meals since last night dinner, at 4pm we were both starving.  Before we settled in our lodgings we had a meal summarized in one – well, fitting for my abstinence! Actually we devoured our pasta and salad.

Our alarms went off at 4am the next morning, we need to be early as the assembly time was at 445am. My second time to be up that early for a dive – only for the threshers! After the long wait, Angel and I both hoped that we will encounter this phenomenal specie.  It was still dark as we got to the shop. We were joined with five Thai divers, who all looked Filipino to me.

Monad Shoal

We had a thresher shark show!
We had a thresher shark show!

The shoal is a mound that rose up from 250m depths, it had walls with sandy slope that created like a plateau, where the sharks converge every morning for the cleaning, the wrasses having early breakfast in return.  In short, they are co-mensal to each other.   There were five boats already anchored as we approached the area, we were the last to arrive I guess.  The cold waters splashed as we all entered in giant step one by one, we all went for the line for the descent. At 10 meters, Angel and I had our first morning surprise when two threshers quickly appeared in view swimming restlessly as if looking for a cleaner wrasse. So beautiful, it’s there with its long tail and prominent dorsal fins!  We were lead by our guide James down to the wall at the viewing deck, where the divers lined up waiting for the threshers to appear. Practically, it was a sit and wait activity as we were told during the briefing – like watching a movie! No one is allowed to swim around or cross the viewing ground so as not to disturb them, the air bubbles from the tank can scare the sharks mistaking it as fishing nets – based on research and observation.

Practically, it was a sit and wait activity...
Practically, it was a sit and wait activity…

Indeed, after awhile threshers came to the ground intermittently when it reached five I stop counting and just enjoyed the view. Obviously I dismissed all other marine life in the area but like others focused alone on the sharks. But Angel said, there were at least eleven sightings of threshers.  We went further but stayed close to the wall with James and found more, we went back to the viewing deck as other divers left the area. The last shark I had went nearer and it was a face to face encounter – those glassy round eyes gazing and its tail finning for swift movements averting its directions as if teasing me then. It felt so beautiful I wanted to cry but quickly reminded myself my tears won’t allow me to see clearly the sharks.  I still wanted to linger on ground holding the line but my dive guide signaled for my dive computer, alas my NDL was down to 3 minutes!  He summoned me for the ascent, Angel was already moving up away to the slope. It was so amazing I hardly took any photos, it was truly magical only your heart and mind captured the scene!

I still had the adrenaline rush I carried the tank on my back up the boat (which is rare) and gave Angel a quick warm hug for an afterglow of the incredible thresher sharks encounter. It was overwhelming I can’t contain, it was worth the wait…

Gato Island

Our two remaining dives was scheduled at Gato, an uninhabited island shaped like a cat in back view, off the coast of Malapascua about 30 minutes away on boat. We were joined with two other lady divers (foreigners too) with DM Nick. The Thai divers still joining, we were divided into two groups as we increase in number, reasonable as the site requires more care and work.

Reef sharks in a cavern in Gato island, Malapascua
Reef sharks in a cavern in Gato island, Malapascua (Photo credits to Angel)

From distance, the island looks ordinary and bleak – like a big boulder punctuated with few trees and vegetation, it has a guard house being an MPA but the surrounding waters was raging. DM Nick briefed us to search overhangs and crevices and the possibility of currents.  We descend on a slope decorated with soft corals, tropical fishes, sea stars, clams, urchins and more.  Most surprising was the sighting of white tip shark hiding under an overhang, I think it was resting or sleeping unmindful of its visitors.  It was a big one, it can’t just wiggle away from us!   We found a juvenile yellow frogfish, so cute it sat on the sand near the urchin.  DM Nick inspected anemones and we found too cleaner shrimp and few nudis.  We went around on some rocks and found another big white tip under a crevice, sleeping again.  Well, white tips are nocturnal so they went to hunt prey on night when other critters are sleeping.   The shark sightings in the shallows was a real treat for me and Angel, it was unexpected.  We ascend after 49 minutes with my air still at 80 bars.

Juvenile yellow frogfish - rare find!
Juvenile yellow frogfish – rare find!

After more than an hour of surface interval we geared up for the last descent, which according to DM Nick was a mini-cave dive. We listened intently for the instructions, reminders and demo how to fin once inside – our careless movement can cause clouding up the sands.  We will traverse the dark tunnel about 30 meters long, so we need to light up our torch as we enter the waters.  The boat moored near the guardhouse but the water was still raging.  Our group entered the waters and swam first for the spot which was an advantage as we will get the viewing first!  With our torches on, we headed for the dark carefully finning, it was wide enough to accommodate us. The overhangs partly concealed the area, then we stop quietly perching controlling our buoyancy as if waiting for a scene.  Lo and behold, slowly looming were white tips swimming coyly, circling around five in all like a family – big, medium and a pup. A pair of trevally or jacks was playing, glistening as I point my torch on them. Hovering nearby were group of snappers and few groupers.  Such a wonderful sight – watching these creatures in their own habitat!

Can you find the cleaner shrimp?
Can you find the anemone shrimp?

We proceed to traverse the tunnel and went to a sandy slope punctuated with soft corals, headed to a reef and were surprised when a white tip quickly passed by and disappeared in a blink of an eye.  We sighted banded sea snake – a pair of juveniles and a big one slithering on the corals. There was a lionfish, anemone fish and the shy moray eel.   Keen eyes were needed for the macros, the cleaner shrimp and the jumping juvenile scorpionfish didn’t escape DM Nick’s searching mode.  We surfaced after 56 minutes with my air still at 100 bars. Exhausted and the waters still choppy, I hold on to Angel as we swam back to boat. Still overwhelmed we were asking ourselves as we took our seats on the boat, “Why did it take us too long to be back in Malapascua?”

The shy moray eel...
The shy moray eel…

Simply Euphoric

High in spirits, we chatter now and then about the sharks – at the diveshop, on our way to the lodge, during dinner, in the sleeping room.  Angel declared it as his best dive, next to Tubbataha cruise I commented.  Indeed, you’ll never know the mystery of an island – more than on the surface.  Many are paradise in the depths, its unspeakable grandeur is more than what the eyes can see.  This trip was without challenges but turned out to be about sharks – a great sharks day.  And guess what, the proverbial rainbow appeared before us as we cruise back to Maya port the following morning, its other end in Gato Island! It wasn’t drizzling and the early morning sun decorated the horizons, yet the rainbow – right, our heavenly sign of a blissful trip…

White Tips Galore

A white tip shark in Tubbataha
A white tip shark in Tubbataha

The Whitetip Reef Shark  (Triaenodon Obesusis ) is  one of the most frequent sharks in the Indo-Pacific.  This species is easily spotted due to its curious, irregular, and waving swimming style and of course, the white tip on its dorsal fins.  Sharks are not a common sight as you go down the  depths, their dwellings are likely in reefs  remote and undisturbed. My sightings were few and I feel blessed I had the opportunity for such encounters with them.

I found bunch of juvenile white tips in Apo Reefs in the shallows, astounding as it was.  Actually, it was magical!  And when we explored Tubbataha, we had a dose of it everyday.  It felt like it was ordinary tropical fishes wading everywhere, but still we kept our distance from them.  Lately, we had wonderful sighting of the species in a cave at Gato Island, Malapascua. It was incredible, we do not expect such wonderful scene.  But they were all there, swimming coyly all five of them in the dark, unsuspecting that five earthlings were watching them in the corners of the cave!  It was mesmerizing…

White tips swimming coyly in a cave at Gato Island

Many people would cringe at mere mention of sharks being perceived as harmful. Yet sharks including white tips are interesting creatures which hardly would harm human beings unless threatened.  Here are few interesting  facts about Whitetips:

  1. This amazing fish is a very slim species.  At most, it grows to about 2.5 meters (8 feet) and weighs up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds). With its slender shape, grey complexion and pronounced gills, this creature of the sea is hard to miss.
  2. This species is found all across the Indo-Pacific region. It is found almost exclusively in coral reef habitats along the coral heads and ledges. Sometimes they can be seen near sandy flats, in lagoons, or near deep drop offs. The preferred depth is 8 to 40 meters (26 to 130ft) making this a shallow swimmer.
  3. Since this is a slow species compared to others, they prefer to hunt at night when most sea animals are sleeping. They prefer eels, crustaceans, octopus, lobsters, and crabs.
  4. The Whitetip Reef is a very social fish. They often lay on the ground in large groups. Many divers who see this phenomenon say it looks like a bunch of logs lined up side by side. This generally is not a territorial species, although they often spend many months in the same area.
  5. Since they are Viviparous, eggs are held in the placenta of the female fish until birth. Females are usually pursued by males for an extended period of time, at which point, the males will initiate contact by grasping the pectoral fin and maneuvering the two of them into proper position. Females give birth to 1 to 6 pups at a time and pregnancy lasts for 10 to 13 months.
  6. The Whitetip Reef Shark population has decreased over the years, even though they are toxic for human consumption. Due to their slow reproduction rate, late age maturity, and limited habitat, any human interference has large effects. So even though low levels of Whitetip Reef fishing are occurring, it is enough to dwindle the population and rate them as “Near Threatened”.
  7. Their threat to humans is minimal. This is a relatively harmless species but can spook swimmers and divers. They frequently swim close by to inspect swimmers but rarely pose any problems. Most bites occur from spear fishers getting bitten when the Whitetip Shark goes after their bait.

Early Ecstasy

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It was a face to face encounter with Thresher Sharks (Alopiidae) early morning one Saturday at  none other than the Monad Shoal, Malapascua Island north of Cebu province.  After almost three years I finally had a close encounter of this interesting pelagic.

It was one magical moment!

Thresher Shark Research Conservation Project


Malapascua Island is almost synonymous to thresher sharks, not to mention the pristine white beaches, generally this pelagic drives the local dive and tourism industries, fuelling 80% of the regional economy.  Myself included was first drawn to this southernmost tip island of Cebu province almost three years now, aiming to catch glimpse of the phenomenal presence of the shark in shallow waters.

This pelagic thresher Shark (Alopias Pelagicus) is an oceanic species whose biology and behavioral ecology are largely unknown  due to study limitations.  Fisheries and by-catch data indicate that it is found in warm and temperate offshore waters, matures late, has low fecundity and is vulnerable to over-exploitation.  International conventions have recognized almost all shark species to be threatened, promoting nations to implement protection policies.  These listed species comprise those which have received comprehensive scientific investigation, and whose biology and behavioral ecology are well understood.  The fact that thresher sharks regularly visit a sea mount in the Philippines presents a unique opportunity to study this rarely observed oceanic shark.  Preliminary investigations of the site identified significant relationships between shark presence and cleaning activity conducted by resident Cleaner and Moon wrasses (Labriodes Dinidiatus and Thalassoma Lunare).  Cleaning activity relating to sharks has never been investigated in the wild before, but this observable interactions seen at this site explained why these mainly oceanic sharks venture into shallow coastal waters, where they are vulnerable to fishing and disturbance from dive tourism.  Understanding their behavioral ecology will provide important information to support the protection plan for the specie.

Monad Shoal is located within the Visayan Sea, 8.16 km due east from the southern beach of Malapascua Island.  The sea mount is an open water site rising 250 meters from the sea floor to 15=25 meter depths.  Early morning presence of thresher sharks on the shoal attracted local dive and tourism industries to Malapascua Island.

It is with these facts and reasons that the Thresher Shark Research Conservation Project initiated, it started in 2009.  The project aimed to investigate the behavior of thresher sharks  in response to resident cleaner fishes, the correlations between parasite presence, to improve established methods of observing the specie, to assess also the population dynamics of visit frequency, and to provide relevant information to conservation initiatives in relation to managing impacts of fishery and dive tourism.  The project is developing a model for managing Monad Shoal as a protected area for the thresher sharks.

Please visit for more details. You could be  part of this research conservation project.

CY 2011: Quo vadis, Mermaid?

There's life beyond the depths!

Our Tubbataha 2010 is indefinitely postponed so my soul will wait silently for the right time, I know it will be worth the wait. Despite shelving my coveted dive trip for this year, I’m on again for more adventures for 2011 planning equally amazing and off beaten dive sites… I promised myself before venturing sites outside my dear country, I need to explore more and exhaust all the rich marine biodiversity in our waters.

Together with my favorite dive buddy Angel, we are more than bullish to explore these exciting sites:

  • Apo Reef – one of the most diverse marine life comparable to the Great Barrier Reef.  My tickets for San Jose – Manila – San Jose is ready. Angel encouraged me to buy this as early as May , it was on sale!
  • Coron (again!) – for the mysterious wreck diving. I’ll never get enough of all the challenging WWII wrecks in its waters.  Admittedly, I am smitten by the rich marine life and laid back environment in Calamianes.
  • Batanes – I never knew that there is diving in this northern most islands, so when Angel told me, I was thrilled! I slapped my forehead why I haven’t thought to search diving in the islands.  I have been wanting to visit this town, but keep postponing. Now, it’s like hitting two birds with one stone – stunning landscape and mysterious unspoiled depths!  Got our tickets already, it was on seat sale!
  • Manta Bowl – A new discovery, incidentally a dive master mentioned this site to us. Our diver’s itch is pestering us again!
  • Tawi-Tawi waters – one of the red flag areas in Mindanao, this is challenging!  We planned to conquer the place this year, but failed.  So, we will finally explore it next year as my birthday trip.  We got tickets already!
  • Malapascua (again!) – we missed the treshers last summer, so we need to go there again!  Hopefully, the sharks would cooperate this time. I love the laid back life of this northernmost Cebu island. 🙂
  • Others – there are other sites to explore more, those that are less expensive and accessible to get away with leaves at work.  Like Panglao Island, Camiguin Island, Moalboal, Siquijor or even Mis Or waters.

There will be more discoveries  next year aside from our surface adventures.  And always, yes always, I’m grateful with my favorite dive buddy who’s ever resourceful and very encouraging in planning our trips.  I’m  looking  forward for all these, but  shhhhhhh – these are still secret.  Ahhh, the mermaid in me is rejoicing!

Diving in North Cebu!

What about discovering a paradise island in a remote place, coupled with amazing dives! Imagine a stretch of white beach, idyllic environment, summer breeze and the depths… A tiny island in the northern most tip of Cebu province lies Malapascua – a dive destination every diver wouldn’t want to miss, the home of tresher sharks! And Kalanggaman – a virgin and unheard island belonging to Palompon, Leyte.  Angel has been raving about this unknown island which I didn’t seriously consider as our future destination.  But when I discovered that it’s one of exotic sites  in north Cebu diving, we included it in our list of dream destinations.  Angel and I has been looking forward for our Easter break, exploring the depths in these two interesting and intriguing islands  –  was just a perfect summer get away for our weary souls…

 Long Weekend

Our sked for north Cebu has been set many months ago and have chosen weekend after Easter, since it’s a long weekend, no need to get a leave from work.   It was a long week and arriving home on brownout, I packed up my gears almost midnight after a nap to make most of the time.  I only had about three hours sleep as I need to wake up early for my flight. I sneak away again from home while everyone still asleep.  😛  Luckily, I bumped no one I know at the airport – I’ve always wanted my get-aways private, I just don’t want to chatter about things explaining my trip.  I was rewarded with great sights when we get airborne – over Bohol, hundreds of choco hills and the islands of Panglao, Balicasag & Pamilacan, plus a colorful rainbow!  I always took rainbows as a sign of a great wonderful trip…

 It was a sunny morning when we touched down Mactan International Airport, and every time I set foot in Cebu, I had that proverbial feeling that I’m on familiar grounds like home.  Actually, this place has always been my fave get away aside from being venues on conferences, conventions or meetings relative to work. In short, I always landed in Cebu work wise or just plain whims to transport myself to another location to break the tedium of things. I had good friends also in this city.

 I met up with Angel at the North Bus Terminal for our trip to Maya, it was our first to visit north of the province just like when we went to Moalboal last year, our first visit to the south. It was a long trip passing coastal towns of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Carmen, Catmon, Sogod, Tabogon, Bogo & Daan Bantayan and city of Danao. When we reached Maya, the summer heat was scorching but watching the island from afar revives my spirit, excited what’s in store for us for the next two days! We cruised for Malapascua for 30 minutes but made longer since guests were dropped in different locations respectively,  good for us since the boat  docked right at Bounty beach near our lodge at Mike & Diose’s Beach Cottage. I was almost running after I jumped out of the boat to our lodge – the sight was enthralling! Although we booked on budget room, it was decent and comfy enough and I was amused with the mosquito net, drape style like those kinds seen on queen’s room.  🙂

Backpackers Dream

Angel and I were just thrilled and wanted to do things fast, we rushed to unpack our gears and to hang out our wet suit (folding it is a no-no), and we need to check at the dive shop for the skeds. We found out that the only means of transpo in the island are single motors traversing the foot path or trails.  Divelink is quite distant from our lodge so we were transported courtesy by our host.  Indeed, the dive shop shared a building with the Tresher Shark Research and Protection Center. Voila! The dive shop was kind enough to accommodate our requests: morning dive at Monad Shoal and two dives at Kalanggaman Island!  🙂  In the last days I was trying to negotiate for Kalanggaman, calling other dive shops but was never encouraging as they will need at least eight divers. Actually, the staffs at Divelink were generally friendly and I was delighted that they knew my dive mentor personally.  🙂  After settling things for the dive trip we retraced our way back to our lodge.

 We went back on foot asking directions from the locals but we had our first stop for our late lunch (3pm) at Gingging Flower Garden – good food but never pricey. We made stops also to buy our needs for the next two days until we finally get back to the cottage – whew! – it was a maze-like trails. We wanted to make most of our time as it was nearing dusk. Get around the place, took photos, look out into the beach, and finally had our refreshing swim in the blue, blue waters. So relaxing… I guess our chosen lodge seems a perfect place for this Easter break.  Ah, this is island living!

 We agreed to retire on bed early as we need to be up at 4am, so after our hot drinks, pep talk, stories and laughter , we set our alarms and yield to our tired bodies and hop to our “queenly” beds and doze off!   🙂

Milestone Dive

As usual I woke up earlier than Angel, I had preliminaries to do – set up UW cam hoping it would still work and my contacts. So far, this is my earliest dive – Threshers are early sharks and so is cleaner wrasse. So we were required to be at the shop at 430am, you think that’s insane? None at all, if you want an encounter with the threshers!

It was my 50th dive – my requirement for logged dives enough to go for the Tubbataha trip! And I’ll be using first time my all new D4 computer…

It was still dark and we need a torch, clutching our gears we tried to find our way to Divelink hoping we won’t get lost in the maze-like trails, we don’t want to be late!  We arrived on time though, very much earlier than other divers. While waiting, DM Johan made a brief briefing for our first dive at Monad Shoal, I was getting excited when he said they sighted threshers and devil ray from yesterday’s descent! Angel and I were beaming and fervently hoping for the same surprise. 🙂  We finally left past 5am already, and when we reached the spot we found out that there were other dive boats already docked. We descent at 618am and positioned at the first cleaning station, we should stay 1 meter from the sea bed and wait until they come. Watching around numerous divers waiting, I was bit disappointed and felt it was too disturbing for the marine life. I stayed with Angel just nearby with our DM, not wanting to miss the events.  We waited almost holding our breath, the cleaner wrasses hovering obviously waiting also for the sharks, then suddenly out of nowhere a devil ray appeared, flapping its way upward as if to surfaced but there was no threshers. DM Johan motioned us to the next station and waited awhile but there was none, so we surfaced after 40 minutes and my air down to 40 bars.

We cruised back but missing the threshers never dampen our spirits, the early morning dive was too refreshing although bit cold 🙂 .  There’s something more in store for us for the day.  We rushed  back to our lodge on barefoot, we didn’t had our slip-ons and wearing booties in swimming attires looks funny! 😛  Imagine Angel and I walking fast in barefoot catching our breath but careful enough not to hurt our feet. It was an experience and it’s good walking on the sands, brisk walking is a good form of exercise! After a rushed breakfast, we walked back again to the shop as we were expected at 830am for the next site cruise. Well, it was a pretty sweaty morning!

Hidden Paradise

We arrived just in time for the cruise to Kalanggaman which took two hours, it was sunny and the waters calm – it was just a perfect day for our dream island escapade! Looking at the island from afar seems like one of those tropical paradise islands in Caribbean,   I guess there’s no need to go outside the country, because we have our own jewels just waiting to be discovered.  A white island with greens – it shines like pearl as what Angel described.  We had our first descent at the northern part – a wall only heaven knows how deep, but we agreed to be between 25-30 meters.  A steep wall covered with colorful corals – we were in different world enjoying the view in silence.  I had these awesome feeling every time I am in the midst of marine life, can’t be put in words. Perhaps only with Angel I share this overwhelming feeling. There were trigger fish, barracuda, damsels, anthias, common anemone fish, angelfish, butterfly fish. I pointed out a stonefish to Angel, which he tried to poke and it wiggled away, we jerked away not wanting to get contact with his poison!  But I never saw gorgonians or basket sponges.  We surfaced after 37 minutes with 29.7m as deepest with my air down to 40 bars.

As planned our surface interval was spent at Kalanggaman, which what we just wanted as we needed to set foot on our dream island 🙂  – Angel and I had our lunch there, walk on the stretch of white sands, took photos and had a swim. It was a surrender to sun, sea and sands! We hastily headed for the boat when the alarm call sounded – I wanted to explore more of the island maybe walk around its circumference.  Our next descent was at the southern part of the island, but as I jumped unto the water, I noticed some sounds at my back and informed DM Johan, he had my tank replaced as there was some leaking! I need to swim back to the boat for the necessary replacement.  Angel and I descend last as he waited for me. Angel and I stayed close as we follow other divers again exploring the reefs – it just felt good wallowing in the marine world.  We tried to search for critters, found a moray eel, a camouflaged clam, worms, few nudis. We just swam around until we got shallower on a sandy area and explored the reefs, hopping from colorful corals, we linger more until our air was down to 40 bars we surfaced away from others, and swam back to the boat.

We cruised back trying to relax for the two hour ride, somewhere halfway we spotted dolphins which made us all stand and went at the boat front to get a good view, but it didn’t last long. We arrived almost 5pm and took refuge at the shop while waiting for our gears.  After settling our bills and some pleasantries with Mr Gary, we headed to our lodge and a brief stop at Gingging Flower Garden to buy food for dinner. I guess we walked sluggishly perhaps  bit tired of the day’s events!

Another Time

We missed the threshers shark but we got what we planned for the trip, and we have more reason to be back in Malapascua Island next year, hopefully given the opportunity to have a spectacular encounter of the sharks!  We made most of our remaining hours, after gears rinsing and bath. We leisurely had dinner while discussing for the next months dive trips.    🙂 Diving will always be part of me, actually I needed it to keep things in balance, to keep me sane as they say. And nothing could be more wonderful than sharing amazing experience with a buddy who share the same passion and love for diving.

I got sunburns, reddish and bit painful but the pleasure was more than enough to cover the pain.  My sunkissed skin is just on the surface, something deep in me in mind and my heart is more important. Our short escape was sufficient to refuel our spirits for more challenges back at work and that’s  more than enough to keep me going.  Again the Lord has arranged all things for this wonderful trip,  all praises be to Him!

Watch out for our next spectacular dive trips!

NB We got no underwater photos during this dive since my cam went kaput!