Philippine Siren, 7-20 March 2018. More Muck Diving and a Pristine Reef—Tubbataha

Philippine Siren 7-20 March 2018

Tubbataha Reef

(An excerpt from my personal log)

“The Atmosphere staff was in charge of transferring all of the passengers from their respective flights and hotels to the pick up point for the Siren. Once again they did a bang up job.

At the pick up point I was pleased to see Michelle and Scott from British Columbia. We were together last year on the Indo Siren. Then all the familiar faces from the Philippine Siren, Shu, Ed, Maureen, Donato, all the rest of the staff and especially Marefe.

I had heard a rumor that Shu and Ed would be leaving soon for Indonesia. Fortunate for me they are still here and also fortunate for me, I will see them again in Indonesia.

We started our diving on the 8th around the South part of Cebu Island. The first day was relaxing. Nice walls and critters. Some turtles. Nothing too crazy. The night dive was perfect. Crocodile snake eel, lots of crabs, nudies, eels, etc. so a good settling in day. Our dive group is well matched with the exception of our beginning diver, Jack. He is doing pretty well though. We are diving 4 dives a day including a night dive until we get to Tubbataha where we will do 4 day dives and no night dive. The visibility has been so so. Hopefully that will improve as we continue.

Our dive guide is Donato. I dived with him last time and really enjoyed him. We will change dive guides every 14 dives. That should get us through our 42 dives aboard the PI Siren.

11 Mar 18. Around Cebu

Our group changes around occasionally. The core of our dive group is Michelle, Scott, Glenn and I. We have been consistent. Jack is taking a course and sometimes an odd diver gets added. Especially Kelly, Olga, and Dan. Still, we are very compatible and deliberate divers.

The vis has slowly gotten better. We are mixing wide angle and macro Diving so we are getting a wide variety of animals and environments.

This morning we were up early for Oslob. This is a place where the fishermen were having trouble with whale sharks disrupting their fishing so they started feeding them and discovered a new tourist trade. I was only on the site for 1/2 an hour but still got some good whale shark pictures. The current blew most of us off the site and it wasn’t worth wearing myself out to continue. For several this was their first whale shark encounter. We had a couple who are having a family emergency and have to leave today. They got to snorkel with the whale sharks before they left. For the rest of us, I am hoping there will be more whale sharks when we get to Tubbataha.

This afternoon we will be diving a couple of places I dived with Atmosphere. They were good, don’t mind returning.

After the third dive I’ll have a massage before the night dive. Life is tough.”

After Diving several days around the islands of Negros, Cebu, and Bohol we headed to Tubbataha Reef in the Sula Sea. It is a National Park and a World Heritage Site.

There are lots of small critters here, nudibranches, Pygmy Seahorses, frogfish and such. However, the big draw here is big animals, schools of fish, and healthy reef. We expected current and some rough seas. We got all of that. I would rate this part of the trip as an intermediate level dive trip.

Yes, there was current but we mostly dived with the current. Yes there were waves but not a huge problem (mainly because the Captain and crew took really good care to minimize those conditions.) Still, I feel it is best to have a little experience before you get to a very remote location with those conditions.

We did not see mantas or whale sharks which really surprised me. We did see lots of white tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, so many turtles. As I mentioned, our little dive group was very deliberate. No rushing us! We rotated. Which group went first to the dive site and if ours was first we were often overrun by the other two groups who seemed to be sprinting through the dive site. That worked well though. Obviously Shu and Ed did a great job of paring divers together for the groups and were not hesitant to make changes if needed.

I only did 40 of the 42 dives. Had a little sinus problem that needed a rest.

For those of you who don’t know, I don’t eat glutens. F food on these trips is a priority for you then the PI Siren is a good fit. Every meal I had many alternatives, some offered to all, some made especially for me, Marefe always took good care of me and everyone else with special dietary needs.

I had two massages, thanks Maureen, that I would highly recommend.

Now for a few pictures check out my Facebook post. You can also find my work at SACs Gallery. There website is SACs Gallery.

A nudibranch 
Turtles were abundant at Tubbataha 
A gray giant frogfish in a gray sponge. The diver is Glen.
A juvenile bat fish is a great find
Porcelain crabs in an Anemone 
For those of you that get my postcards, you may recognize this uncommon pink Common Seahorse.
I love schools of Jacks, especially when they are shaped like a giant Jack.
This is a male juvenile ribbon eel. I know it is a juvenile by its color. I know it is a male because my dive guide said so.
Another beautiful nudie in formal wear.
A moray, looking surprised
A soft coral crab
My favorite sting ray, the marble ray
A Denise Pygmy Seahorse
The current could get pretty strong as evidenced by these corals and crynoids.

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