Mission Whale Shark

This is gonna be a tough thing to write out of excitement.There’s another adventures ahead.If your’e ready so am I !

Lemme start with this pic !

scuba diving PH
diving Napantao Marine Sanctuary

I couldn’t be more extremely excited to write all of what had happen from our 2 week Adventure.

I am passionate in so many things or activities but this adventure brings the hell out of me from excitement since day 1 when we start to dig informations online and contacting people.So anyone closest to me knows what adventure I’m talking about-”Scuba Diving ”, again? yes? no? super JAWsome yes pls  !

Scorching information over the web is not that easy as 1 2 3 ,mainly because either it’s too much or too little info , and most are too old and or nothing new. Our target for this adventure is a Liveaboard dive safari trip (6 days).Someone guess where we’re heading? Tubattaha? mmmm yes please but were not ready yet (kinda expensive) , Apo reef? yes please but then again we don’t have enough time to plan everything and not enough response as well.

To start with, my Dive Buddy found this Liveaboard operator from Bohol who offers Dive tours for Visayas Area and more interestingly he offers Liveaboard Dive Safari from Anda Bohol to Southern Leyte in the place where a possible chance to encounter Whale Shark is at stake.

After canvassing and doing more research we come to a choose Berndz Tauchsafaris based in Panglao Bohol,considering the rates and its inclusions; 6 full dive days with up to 3-4dives a day ,all inclusive of food, drinks and accomodation on board, we think it’s an interesting package.It requires a minimum of 6 divers that cost 895Euro each to have our own group Safari.

So we started reaching out to our circle of Dive addicted friends who are more or less like us as well, kinda suffering from ”Aquaholism”. After two weeks we finally reach 6pax as headcount with positive response means it would be more flexible for us, we can decide our preferred dives sites, schedules and no pressure from other groups.My Dive buddy is organizing and leading the contact with the dive operator and everything went fine at that stage.We finally had a  dive schedule for Jan.3-8 from 5:00am on 3rd of January to 8pm of the 6th day.

Scuba Divers : Uwe (Germany), Alieth(Ph) , Alexandros (Greece), Jens (Germany), John (US) and Mathieu (Belgium)

Dive safari
From US-to Europe-Asia

Jan 1, 2017- yes, First day of the year we just wanna be in the beach , relax and chillout.Starting point is Cebu, me ,Uwe,Alexandros and Jens will head to Anda first and spend two nights there. Mathieu arrives earlier than us in Anda and guess we are jealous already. So I manage to get us a ticket(Oceanjet , Cebu-Tagbiliaran bohol) ahead of time hence travel date is a holiday, it can be tough sometimes.

1st misadventure : It’s 420pm but were not at the port yet, we arrive at exactly 5mins before the scheduled departure, the boat is still there ready to depart but unfortunately they wont let us in anymore since Customs Officer already cleared the vessel for passengers. Trying our luck and begging for them to let us in but no chance they offer us seats instead for the next special trip at 530pm, well we have no choice but to relax for an hr and wait for the next trip.

So inside the boat here we are :

dive safari
see our exciteed faces

We arrive at Tagbilaran port at around  8pm and travel time to Anda Beach is around 2.5hrs., we are greeted by a cute driver from the Resort where we stayed  (La Petra Beach Resort Anda). Road seems so calm it was still a holiday , I think people are still so tired from the New Years eve party, well, they deserved rest too.We arrive at La Petra Beach Resort around 1030pm had our dinner and immediately took a rest.

The following morning we had an early breakfast before planning to hit the beach for the day. Then my buddy told me a bad news he receives an email just moments ago.

Apparently the dive safari operator emailed him saying that his Liveaboard boat is broken (some problem with the engine or so), and he can’t assure us that it would be fixed within the day so we can proceed the following day.

So what are our options?

  1. He will refund our package payment fully including our bookings and incidental expense with our trip.So we will find alternative on our own.
  2. Wait for the boat to be fix which means possibly until Jan.4 but unsure.

We relayed the bad news to the rest of the group and tell them the possible options and or consequences. It’s not an easy decision we have to make specially almost everything is already planned out including bookings paid after the safari trip and individual circumstances.

Shortly after our meeting , the operator called up again, and said he found a new boat as an alternative, it’s his friend’s boat – a bigger one that can travel long distance Anda-Southern Leyte, however this boat don’t have cabins and if we opt for this boat we shall stay in land in at least 2 Dive resort within leyte, the dive operator offered to pay all resort expenses hence there is no accommodation place with the alternative boat. It sounds to be a fair deal for us so we agreed but with the alternative boat we have to wait one day, so schedule is move Jan4-9 means we have one day to kill in Anda. We decided to look for dive operator within Anda beach and do 2 dives for a day. Found a French guy who operates a dive center in Flower Beach Resort 10 minutes away from where we stayed. It was a sunny day and just perfect to be back underwater again plus special people with awesome friends.

Day 1 -Jan.4- We woke up very early  for a scheduled transfer to another resort where the boat will pick us for Leyte.Sea is calm when we depart, skies is a bit cloudy and some mist but Rainbow showed up seemingly greeting us good luck. Travel time is about 4-5hrs Bohol to Southern Leyte, we arrived at Macrohon Leyte where we checked in at around mid day.

diving sogod southern leyte
duck face for the Whale Shark

We cant wait to start diving so we gear up ready for the first dive heading to the divesite called Medicare North, this is so-called after their neighboring position with Padre Burgos Medicare facility. This is a steep site down to 3ometers average rocky and sandy slopes which are decorated with hard and soft corals with schools of fusiliers, sweet lips and angel fishes, current is average. Noticeably large table corals and sponges are visible in this site.We eat our lunch within an hour surface interval then we proceed to Medicare South for a more relaxing dive, a rocky-sandy slope to 20meters where you can see snappers, black corals and a very cute Pygmy seahorse living in a seafan.It was a good starter dive although the weather seems to be sad, no sun .

Day 2 -Jan.5 This day we went diving around Limasawa island with thick clouds and some bits of rain, Mr Sunshine is still elusive.

Limasawa is a small island with around 6000+ people.In the past year local divers spotted Whale Shark passing by the area and now we were trying our luck to meet them here. Limasawa Island is famous place historically because it is where the  ”First Catholic Mass in the Philippines was held during Spanish times in the year 1521.

We did 3 dives in Limasawa’s beautiful walls adorned with all sorts of soft and hard corals  in different colors and sizes, sponges ,black corals.Massive gorgonian fans can be seen as well as nudi branches(my favorite) and sometimes a yawning frogfish is available to greet you.On top of the wall is a lively coral garden full of anemones, tunicates, soft corals inhabited with all kinds of reef fishes.

Looking into the blue hoping to spot for Mr Sharky, unfortunately we didnt see him yet, but we still have 4 more days to go.

2nd misadventure : after the 3rd dive, were heading back to the resort, travel time is around 45mins-1hr, however shortly after we depart from Limasawa the boat captain stops the engine because there is a problem.Oh My God ! not this time please, everyone is tired for the dives and we just wanna rest in the resort.The crew tried to fix the problem(they say the cooling system on the engine is not working anymore), an hour has pass but still they couldn’t fix it then another half an hour and its gettin dark already. So we decided to ask for assistance from Sogod bay for a rescue boat.Luckily there is an immediate response form the other side and they’re willing to save us 😉 but after 15mins the engine suddenly starts , voila the crew was able to fix it, so rescue is cancelled and everyone is grateful.

Day 3 -Jan.6  Want a drift dive ? Max Climax 1 & 2, strong currents on these sites but we see beautiful stuffs like Nudis, sea moth, crinoid shrims and hairy squat lobsters.Vast array of staghorn can also be seen in this dive site as well as soft corals and barrel sponges. Then the most awaited night dive follows after 1.5hrs surface interval, we went to the well-known Padre Burgos pier.

What did we see during the night dive ? on my list are :

Flamboyant cuttlefish,Seahorses, nudis, flatwords, decorated crabs, the resident Stargazer of course, bobtail squid and many more.

Some beautiful soft corals in bright colors outgrown the pier’s pedestal  looking like a wedding venue decor.We tried to look for the tiger shrimp but failed to see him.

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Day 4 -Jan.7  Exciting day because we went to Napantao Marine Sanctuary , I super miss this place so much, one of my favorite dive site.Imagine your in marine biology class, this place has almost all freaking living things underwater that you will study about.Many behavior of living organisms that resides here can be observed. From different types of hard and soft corals in all sorts of colors and shapes, u name and see i here. Plus the massive population of all kinds of reef fishes in schools alive, awake and enthusiastically surrounding you. Big fishes like trevallies, barracuda, snapper, jack fish visiting the reef to feed.From mooray eels with their head protruding in between crevices to nurse sharks and black tips chilling under the huge rocks.

Beyond the happenings in the reef we focus our attention into the blue to see if Mr Whale Shark will finally show up, but nothing comes out until our tanks reach 30bar 😦 time to go up.

But still this site is so awesome that for the second dive we went to the same site and continue to Ghost town for a muck dive.

I will leave it to your judgement on the pictures below.

Day 5 -Jan.8 Since a typhoon is forecasted and Southern Leyte is declared under signal #1 together with Cebu, Bohol Siquijor and nearby visayas area.So this day we decide to do all dives inside the bay because it is safer.This day diveplan is to do 1 reef dive (Bunga Bend site) and a  muck diving (also my favorite kind of diving) at Malitbog also know as Little Lembeh.My dive buddy hooked me up into muck diving about 3yrs now,if your new to this kind of diving you will initially question what the heck are you doing in this kind of divesites, but as time goes by and once you will get familiarize of what is it about and what can you see in this murky,trashy, sandy and sometimes blurry kind of divesites ,you will for sure slowly get addicted to it, specially when you see all the critters and extremely cute stuffs that is living behind the sand and or hiding behind bottles of beer and or some torned closed at the bottom.We had an awesome dive at Little Lembeh.

Day 6 -Jan.9 Today is our last day.

3rd MisadventureAside from a bad weather of the day which will hamper our trip back to Bohol, there is more worst news-The dive operator told us that our boat or the boat that brings us to Southern Leyte left early dawn without us knowing. We supposed to go back to Bohol on this day however because of the typhoon all boats are stranded at the port and is not allowed to sail, therefore we are stuck in Sogod Bay, we can’t think of anything else to do.

We decided dive with Peter’s Dive Resort and went to Jun’s Pinnacle where we see turtles and as expected this site is as lively as the neighboring  Napantao dive site where we dive again for the third time.We spent most of our time in the ”Aquarium” and observe the fishes as they glide.Turtles,Damsel fish, parrot fish, thousands of Anthias, hundreds of angel fishes,all kinds of anemone fish,lizard fish, gobies,cardinal fish,groupers,pipe fish, lion fish, frogfish and giant trevallies hovering on top of playing reef fishes.

So we finish the day with a muck dive at Ghost Town which to our surprise marks one of the highlights of the trip is that we found 2 green hairy shrimps ,a very tiny one and a tiny one 😉 about 2mm and 5mm size.

To end our dive Safari we head to the pier again for a night dive.

During the night dive we see the Flamboyant cuttlefish again, and of course spent more of our time watching him, shortly before the end of the dive, the dive master signal for our attention and guess what  he found something special- a Green Hairy Shrimps, which is very hard to spot since the water is a bit choppy underwater, the algae where it sticking is constantly moving. After my dive buddy had enough with the green hairy shrimp we proceed to try to search for the tiger shrimp again, unluckily we failed to find him, instead he find a very cute nudi.Back at the resort during dinnertime we tried to scan among pictures to see and SURPRISE guess what we see on the last shots he took, apparently near the nudi is a Purple/Red hairy shrimp.

                                                                                                             SURPRISE SURPRISE !!! 🙂 😉 😉

sea-slug magical-purple-hairy-shrimp

That ends our dive safari.

Super JAWsome, FINtastic and a SEAlebration of life UnderWater ❤

><(((0>

night dive in leyte
sand eel
night dive in leyte
sand eel

We might not meet Mr.Whale Shark, we still consider it as a SUCCESS, despite misadventures along the way, we are still amaze how beautiful the sites in Sogod Bay for sure we will never get tired visiting/diving Sogod bay in Southern Leyte if given the chance.

Finding Flamboyant chilling at Padre Burgos pier and spending time with not only 1 but 4 Hairy shrimps and not just green but also purple/red hairy shrimps is more than a jackpot for us 😉 😉 ;*

Photo Credits to : Uwe, Jens,Alexandros and Eegy.

Thanks guys for being so awesome !

More pics down 🙂

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Thanks guys for reading and now off to fantasize for our next exploratory dives somewhere in Panay next months , anybody who can guess will be one lucky bastard. 😉 😉 😉

The second week we proceed to Camiguin to summit Mt Hibok Hibok and dive Mantigue island, next on my blog .Stay tuned !!

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