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.

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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 Reefs Natural Park, Palawan

I visited Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park from May 29 to June 3 via M/Y Sakura liveaboard (my first one).  I flew to Palawan morning of the 29th then in the afternoon embarked on a 10 to 14 hours boat ride to Tubbataha.

As stated in the handout I received during the orientation, “The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is the only purely marine World Heritage Site in Southeast Asia.  The Park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reefs and lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the global center for marine biodiversity. 

The Park is a major source of coral and fish larvae, enriching fisheries in surrounding areas.  Its islets are one of the last intact seabird habitats in the Philippines.

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It has seventeen (17) dive sites tagged in the map.  Eight (8) in the North Atoll, seven (7) in the South Atoll and two (2) in the Jessie Beazley reef.

On average, we did four (4) dives per day except for the last day wherein we only did three (3).  I personally decided not to skip any of the fifteen (15) dives to maximize the experience.  We were blessed with generally fair weather with scattered rain especially during the evening.

It was like a dream.  Though some of my co-divers said it was not the best visibility, every dive was a great dive.  The corals are pristine with the reef wall full of large sea fans.

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Marine life is diverse.  And most of all, lots of colors abound.  It was everything I envisioned it to be.  So beautiful.

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We were also blessed with sightings of sharks (loads of different varieties), whale shark, turtles and manta.

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imageYes, there is a whale shark there somewhere. Taken at 100ft deep.

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To keep it short and simple, it was the best site I have been to. The ocean is alive and wonderful.

I did take some photos but mostly I just spent most of my time admiring and absorbing everything my eyes could land on. It is not everyday I get to see majestic beauty.  It also helped that I knew I was with a group of diver photographers so I know they will have loads of photos.

All I can say is that we have been so blessed.  I hope we all strive to preserve it.  God is wonderful; what a beautiful world.  Hopefully I can return some time in the future.

To learn more about Tubbataha, you can visit http://www.tubbatahareef.org.