Quick Notes: Coron

Welcome from Barracuda Lake

I visited Coron last 27 October to 02 November 2017, primarily to see the Dugong and the wrecks, which are two of the main attractions the province is known for.

It is not actually my first time in Coron. My first time was way back in 2013 with my friends from the office. We did the island hopping, hot springs and climb to Mt. Tapyas back then. But, this trip is different as it is more focused on dives and the other side of Busuanga island.

Dugong infographic from Cashew Grove Resort

Best to start that I was quite unfortunate with the Dugong. I  was part of the group that did not see the Dugong.. the first in almost two months (based on the the resort owner and the guides)!

Main factor was the poor visibility. Prior to the trip, the guides were quite optimistic and confident since there is a friendly Dugong that regularly feeds in a specific area. But, due to a number of factors, visibility was not good that day. Our group was advised not to proceed either with snorkeling or diving.

Ou group was then transferred to a reef (note: a beautiful reef with diverse marine life) where there is a chance of seeing one since it is also a feeding ground; but, luck was still not on our side. I guess it was not yet in my cards to see the Dugong (that is mother nature for you). But, I do hope I get the chance to see them in the future in their habitat. I do pray that the surrounding community really moves towards saving the Dugong.

Coron Wrecks from Reggae Dive Center

For the wrecks, this was quite an experience. First off, let me say that I am not really a fan of wrecks, especially when there is penetration involved. My main fear is getting disoriented and lost inside the wreck.

After this trip, I could say that wrecks are really not my cup of tea. I love the history behind the wrecks but the experience being in one is totally different.

My fear was not baseless after all; but, the risk of getting lost and disoriented can be managed if you get competent dive masters to accompany you (slow clap to our guide Arjay from the Reggae Dive Center). I tried to be real focused during dive orientations but the dark seems to erase everything I tried processing and remembering. I ended up being completely reliant on my dive master (well, and my dive computer) inside the wrecks.

Window

Random rails underwater

Again, it is just not my cup of tea but I can sense that there are divers that prefer this, probably those that knows about ships. Still, a great experience. In some ways, I felt like an austronaut floating into unchartered territory researching for something.

Coron definitely has a lot to offer – both wrecks and marine life. For the latter, even if I was not able to see the Dugong, Coron still has a lot to offer – first time to see an electric clam, cuttlefish, blue dragon nudibranch, second time to see an octopus, ray and leaf fish, school of jacks, and lots of scorpion fishes.

Will I go back? Yes, hopefully when there is better visibility. After all, I have not yet dived Siete Picados and seen a Dugong.

Credits: Dugong infographic as posted in Cashew Grove Resort and Coron Wreck Summary as posted in Reggae Dive Center

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Quick Notes: Tubbataha Dive Experience

Related to my previous post, I am posting a brief summary of my experience.  I made notes on all our dives with side comments in my phone and now inputting it here for safekeeping.

1st day

  • 2 dives on Jessie Beazley Reef – 1st multiple shark experience, really awesome to see them in their natural habitat
  • 2 dives on Shark Airport – 1st dive saw multiple sharks again (with some resting on the reef); 2nd dive was a night dive wherein we saw multiple large colourful  lobsters

2nd day

  • 1 dive on Shark Airport – failed hammerhead search
  • 1 dive on Seafan Alley – beautiful corals and sea of fishes; as if trapped in an aquarium
  • 1 dive on Black Rock – Manta (saw it first)!; strong current though and almost ran out of air; I have to thank Richard (our dive master) for keeping me calm and collected on this one
  • 1 dive on T Wreck – chill dive; beautiful corals with a random small turtle

3rd day

  • 1 dive on Delsan Wreck – saw a Whale Shark for the first time… it was more than 40 meters deep though so I did not get that close; I wished the photographers did not swarm it as much, it may have swam higher
  • 1 dive on Triggerfish City – only saw one triggerfish (so I was wondering about the name); mountain of corals and loads of turtles (one turtle though looked like it was either sick or sleeping); Bonus:  upside down shark near the boat right after we surfaced — thought it was trapped but it was not.  My co-divers said it must have been a wild night
  • 1 dive on South West Wall – sharks were swimming far away but still beautiful corals; corals were not as beautiful as the other sites but all alive and well; nice to see
  • 1 dive on a site near Amos Rock – felt like we were swimming in a coral maze; few shadows of sharks; Bonus:  swam with dolphins for a few seconds/minutes prior to the official dive starting point
  • Side trip:  Visited the ranger station after the last dive; amazing people and may they continue to protect the Tubbataha Reefs

4th day

  • 1 dive on Amos Rock – not so good visibility (by Tubbataha standards), which may be due to the rain during the night; school of shark and barracudas; beautiful corals with small fish (common in Tubbataha — wonderful)
  • 1 dive on Malayan Wreck – small wreck but saw a blue spotted ray; school of jacks
  • 1 dive on Wall Street – chill dive; Tubbataha standard of beautiful wall and corals; Sea fan pictorial with Alice at 90ft

All in all, Tubbataha was the best dive site I have been to so far – good visibility, wonderful corals and marine life.  For first timers, be prepared for mostly deep and drift dives.  Generally, the drift is not that strong, though this depends on weather and sea conditions.  Visibility is great.  Though from what one of my co-divers said, there are times when it was even better.

 

Coastal cleanup

I participated in my first coastal clean-up last weekend, 27 to 28 February 2016.

Though the worldwide clean-up happens around September, it was adjusted here in our country to coincide with the summer season.  We went to two dive sites in Anilao: Mainit and Dead Palm.

I enjoyed the experience. It was my means of giving back to the ocean, which was the venue for most of my wonderful memories. 

Looking back, it was a good thing that I had mastered my buoyancy given that most of the trash are wedged in between corals. No point picking up trash but destroying corals in the process.

I also felt sad. Seeing the extent of trash we leave behind is depressing… There are diapers, sachets and toys. Too much plastic! Given that these trash are foreign in nature, it disrupts the balance of the marine ecosystem.

Good thing that in Dead Palm, trash was minimal. A glimmer of hope that maybe tourists are starting to get conscious. Or, residents are exerting efforts to protect the corals.

Mental note to not be a contributor to ocean waste.  Looking forward to my next coastal cleanup activity.

Transferred Post: Our First Shark Experience

Original publish date:  11 August 2013 (daredevildivers’ wordpress)

NOTE:  To date, this remains as one of my most amazing dive experiences… well not just the thresher sharks but Malapascua as a whole.  There were  sharks, mantas, octopus, turtle, frogfish, mandarin fish, etc. Though the weather was not that perfect (rainy season), somehow we got lucky.

A return trip here remains on my wishlist (maybe when my sister learns to dive?)

Transferred Post: This time, I knew

Original publish date:  16 July 2013 (daredevildivers’ wordpress)

Wonderful memories are made each time a person dives. It may be the first time you went deeper than 60ft, the sight of a juvenile harlequin fish or the joy in discovering a swimming turtle. It may be a feeling or it may be a sighting… Always wonderful.

For me, one of my treasured memories was the first time I wore the regulator away from the surface… That initial encounter with diving in the first confined water pool session when the instructor assisted us going down the bottom of the pool.

I can still remember how conscious and paranoid I was in trying to equalize that it took me two tries (and a persistent instructor) before I managed to set my fins at the bottom of the pool. Somehow I thought equalization is the same as sneezing so I was not getting the intended result. (Good thing a person can swallow to equalize.)

Breathe in, breathe out… Breathe in, breathe out then it was love. I already knew diving will be worth all the money, time and effort. Now, I may be near broke but am always happy.

A lot has happened since then. 50+ dives after, I have to say it is still love.  Every single dive is just as wonderful with its own story to tell.  My happy temporary escape.