Mission : Dive with the Whale Shark in Leyte during off Season :p (close to impossible) right? but who knows….(lol)
To continue our underwater adventures let me bring you to one of our favourite dive destination-Sogod Bay , it is a large bay in the southern part of Leyte Island in the Philippines. An extension of the Bohol Sea, the bay is surrounded by the province of Southern Leyte, and the namesake municipality of Sogod is located at the head of the bay. Panaon Island forms part of the eastern side of Sogod Bay, while Sarangani or Limasawa Island is at the mouth of the bay(Wikipedia).
Southern Leyte is one of the place in the Philippines besides Donsol where you can relatively swim with the Whale Shark in their natural habitat and in most natural way. Season for this plankton feeders is between November to April.
So the plan is after Samal we will head straight to Southern Leyte.From Cebu we took the boat via Cokaliong Shipping Lines which departs 1pm and we arrive at Maasin City port At around 6pm, we took a small public multi cab for 75pesos each to Padre Burgos where Sogod Bay Scuba Resort is located.
Sore legs and muscles doesn’t stop us from fantasizing again with our friends in underwater world, we are set for another 3days of diving with them.
We stayed at Sogod Bay Scuba Resort (SBSR) I have been here once sometime in March 2013 while my dive buddy have been in Sogod bay staying at another resort same year as well. This would be both of us second time around, and indeed our first experience here must be so awesome that it keeps us coming back.
So our first three dives will be north bound from the resort 20-30mins boat ride.We start to descend to Bunga bend , sloping 10-35mtrs with diverse fishes an coral life, our second dive is next to Bunga bend i forgot the name , with a little bit of current. Weather is testing us as well, bright sunrise in the morning then gloomy afternoon. I found a unique kind of shrimp during this dive, it is camouflaging in a yellow black feather star I call it feather star shrimp.We also see soft coral crab, porcelain crab and decorated crab.
Second dive is at Max Climax dive site current sweep like drip dive but fun chilling over colourful coral garden. Before ending the dive , the guide showed us a special kind of Nudibranch its called solar nudi, it is our first time to see such kind of nudibranch.
What’s exciting for this day is the night dive, say it where? of course on our favourite Padre Burgos pier.Yes I know what you are thinking about, most pier stinks , smells bad and trashes down there and even on the surface.
Well don’t fret because what lies beneath is beyond what you can imagine. My first dive here way back 2013 is funny, so full of stories from a crab sitting near the zipper of an abandoned luggage to a shy nudi chilling over a sea star.
Padre burgos pier dive schedule is Mondays -wednesdays-fridays. When we arrive there is another group of divers getting ready to submerged.
We are greeted by two seahorse in chilling out in driftwood near a huge boulder of concrete wall decorated with sponges and corals, this two seahorse seems to be inhabiting exactly the same place as when i saw them 3yrs ago (amazing isn’t it) then we saw nudis along pier pedestal and lion fish all around, as expected crabs are busy for their meals, and nocturnal critters are coming out. A cute bobtail squid showed up and a cuttlefish. Then suddenly in one coral block our dive guide Dave found something special, OMG can you believe it, its a TIGERSHRIMP, yes a tiger shrimp , luck is still haunting us until Southern Leyte :p so someone is already dancing underwater at that very moment. Expect him to spent the remaining air in his tank photographing the lovely tiger shrimp , then the guide found another special kind of shrimp, on the same coral block a cute Donald Duck shrimp showed up, he must have known that a photoshoot is going on the other side and he wants his selfie too for a profile pic you know !!! 😀 😀 😀
In the middle of the dive we notice someone is watching us under , under the sand is two bright us of a stargazer fish.
Our second day we head southward from the resort to Tangkaan Point dive site, we did two dives and as usual it was fantastic , very healthy coral garden and abundance of fish life. During this dive we went 25meters deep in a coral slope where a special sea fan is located, a pink one with a pink pygmy seahorse, she’s very cute and perfectly camouflage.
We also see a lot of nudis (my favourite) in Little Lembeh dive site, it is another muck dive sandy patches where we see Ghostpipe fishes and different kind of shrimps.
On our supposed last day of the dives included in the package is Panaon island where Napantao marine sanctuary is located, this is one of my favourite dive site in Southern Leyte besides the Padre Burgos pier, my first dive here is dreamlike, it is still so amazing the second time around. The abundance of fish life in this area is incomparable, there are just so many fish life , so many of them and almost all sorts of color you can imagine you will be surrounded with them. In a few minutes after descending to the wall our dive guide Dave immediately showed us something special hiding in a hard coral, then I saw a colourful green/orange blue combination tail swaying hooray its a little mandarin fish , a very shy one. The walls along Napantao is still spectacular, with all sorts of fish in all sizes. Then our guide is pointing something on top of sponge he signaled its a frogfish, its a giant one , I swim closer and realize yes it is huge and calmly observing ,it is my first time to see such a size of a frogfish specially I been oriented a lot already with macrophotography that focuses in tiniest critter and most frogfish I saw is not bigger than 10cm.
Why do frogfish yawn, are they sleepy or bored? I tried to google but no real definition as to the reason why they yawn , but closer hypothesis is 1. Territorial aggression 2. stretching their jaws to relax it after eating something 3. signal for photographer that they have had enough 😀 so better back off. The second dive is still a wall dive to 15meters it is the other side of the sanctuary, after 15mins in the wall we slowly went of on top of the wall where the vast coral garden can be perceive with the eyes.Soft and hard corals are just everywhere with abundance of fishes around , then at one moment from a distance the other guide Berto signaled us that there is a shark, OMG seriously is this another mission accomplish ? So me and my dive buddy hurriedly swim faster and closer to him, we were looking around because we were excited to see the Whale Shark of course, but wait he is pointing at the bottom under the table coral, weird how can a whale shark fit in there, its unbelievable, so we tried to check and dive to the bottom until the sandy part and see 2 Juvenile Blacktip Reef Shark. Sorry dive buddy is having a hard time taking pictures its too huge for his macro lense 😦 It is still amazing isn’t it? We wait for them to come out but they didn’t, they must have sensed us waiting there.
After an hour surface interval we proceed to Ghost town for another muck dive, it is a sandy slope in between the two walls of Napantao, we immediately saw 2 ornate ghost pipe fish and many nudis and flatworms.
We end the dive very happy, Sogod Bay Southern Leyte as always not disappointing us, and as always we were diving in uncrowded place, the feeling is so relax ,almost no pressure no stress.
Our last day is supposed to be relaxation day.Boat is scheduled 12mn, we decided to add two more dives for the day. The dive guide bring us to Sta.Sofia dive site to see another sea horse, this time it would be yellow, its gonna be exciting another variants to see.
The yellow sea horse ends our real dive fantasy. Have you noticed that luck is still on our side, we constantly see critters and underwater friends old and new. But as life goes on we have to go back to where we burn our a** off to save money again for the next dive trip 🙂
Time to pack up and eat lumpia before heading to the Maasin city , we still have to buy our boat ticket and crossing fingers and praying boat is not full or else I have no idea yet where we would spend the night. So we arrived at the Maasin city past 6pm from the port we walk to the ticketing office only to find out that it is closed and a poster is written next ticket issuance is 11pm that is like wth another 5hrs to wait, grrrhhhhh. So we decided to google places to eat but after walking very tired we stop to eat at a local pizza place, then we found in google maps a restaurant by the bay near us so we decide to take a tricycle and there we ordered beer, the time seems so slow when we were waiting, were both so sleepy and we almost have nothing to talk about just to entertain ourselves and not falling asleep in the table.
Fastforward we got the ticket and hop into the boat and we sleep happily ever after. 😉 ><(((0>
Mission not accomplish 😦 we didn’t meet Mr Whale Shark.But don’t fret we will be back for him next year.
Next dive trip : Liveaboard dive safari from Anda Bohol- Southern Leyte January 2017 ><(((0>
Photo Credits to MR Uwe Michaelis (the UnderWaterExporer)
Special thanks to : Sogod Bay Scuba Resort , the boat crew and Dave our dive guide you are all awesome.
Thanks to the Resort Staff Annalyn and the other one I forgot the name,for a bright smiles everyday making sure we have fun diving. Thanks to the kitchen staff for preparing always a special Lumpia and yummy Kinilaw , our dives would never be complete without these in our tummy 😉 😉 😉