Dive Log – Malapascua, Cebu [Apr 2012] – Part I

In this age of digitalization, I thought I’d start taking my physical dive logs and start putting them up online for my record! Recording them with pictures to boot, this way it’s less painful in the event something happens to my dive log while I’m out on the water!

Malapascua, Cebu, Philippines

Diving with Thresher Shark Divers at Malapascua

Malapascua is a little island located north of Cebu. It’s not very big – apparently you can cover it by walking in 2-3 hours and its mostly famous for diving. The waters are clear and so, so, so blue! Most of the famous dive sites are further out (Monad Shoal, Gato Island, Dona Marilyn wreck, Callamangan Island) and reached by boat, but there are a number of great spots just around the island and some house reefs as well.

The diving is quite varied as well – deeper ones to look for the famed Thresher Sharks, Hammerhead sharks (in the right season!) and popular wreck dives, sandy bottom muck diving great for macro, as well as colourful corals and some reef walls as well.

Check out my trip journal here. Most of the pix taken here are mine, though some are from my fellow dive mates on this trip. Dive site descriptions are a combination of my physical logbook as well as the Thresher Shark Diver dive location sites.

All of us at Scubaddiction, taking the small boat transfer out to the bigger boat

Dive 1/12 (#42)
7th Apr 2012
5.51am (46 mins)
Monad Shoal – Shark Point

Monad Shoal: Shark Point

1st dive of the trip – we didn’t do a check out dive because we came in late the day before. We woke up at 4am-ish so that we could catch the first boat out at 530am. We went in pretty deep as that’s where Threshers are normally sighted in the early morning, at the cleaning stations located at about 30m or so – During the rest of the day, they tend to swim deeper. There was also a little ‘field’ of garden eels

Not very eventful – no Thresher sightings (save a very fleeting one only 1 or 2 people caught a glimpse of) even though the other 2 groups managed some great encounters!

That's our dive guide alongside a wall of coral
I like this pic of me taken by my dive mate XM


Dive 2/12 (#43)
7th Apr 2012
10.01am (39 mins)
Bugtong Bato

Bugtong Bato

Bugtong Bato is located on the North end of Malapascua island. It’s great for macro diving – there’s a lot of colourful soft coral in this area and lots of small creatures among them! I was still getting the hang of my buoyancy at this point, and I didn’t have the diffuser on my camera so my photos at this point were pretty crappy!

The one thing about this site was the sheer number of jellyfish that floated by as we were doing out ascent. No one was keen to get out of the water and run into the jellyfish!

Highlights: Various nudibranches, a couple of lionfish and a little striped pipefish

Without a diffuser, macro shots end up with these weird shadows
Colourful coral abound!
Look closely and you'll see a lot of Jellyfish in the water
We had awesome weather that day, check it out!

Dive 3/12 (#44)
7th Apr 2012
2.06pm (52 mins)
Deep Rock

Deep Rock

Deep Rock is located on the Northeastern side of Malapascua and is more of a muck diving site with its sandy bottom.

Here was where our guide found us the rare yellow pygmy seahorse, a tiny little thumbnail sized thing hooked on to yellow seafan. How anyone can find these things without knowing they’re there is just incredible!

Highlights: Big striped pipefish, a whole school of vertically swimming razorfish, seaweed like looking fish, Boxer Shrimp, large school of catfish, nudibranches

See the pygmy seahorse? This great pic was taken by XM. My own pic was blur!
Big striped pipefish
This seaweed looking thing is a fish. Easily passed over, you'll only notice that it's something different after you scrutinize its 'swimming' pattern
Boxer Shrimp
Cool black and red nudibranches

Dive 4/12 (#45)
8th Apr 2012
5.50am (43 mins)
Monad Shoal – Shark Point

Early morning sunrise as we descended, hoping to see threshers this time!

Day 2 of diving attempt and the second attempt to see Thresher Sharks. Since our group didn’t see any the last time, we were the first to go down this time around and by golly were we lucky, seeing a shark almost immediately upon descent, at a shallow 15m or so! It was quite a skinny one.

We saw another thresher shark as we moved along the shallows, still at about 18m or so. This one was bigger and circled a few times in front of us before ultimately swimming away, and that’s when I got this awesome video:

We descended down the sandy slope to as deep as 32.8m, where we did see another thresher shark, making a total of 3 sightings during this dive. Didn’t really spend time looking for other creatures, though I did spot a triggerfish swimming around us. Spent some time horsing around the shallow sandy area before ascent, all of us in a good mood having had great thresher shark encounters on the dive!

Thresher Shark #2!
Look at its long swishy tail
That's how close we were!
Here's what we look like, staking out sharks
Some of the crazy things we get up to while waiting to ascend

Dive 5/12 (#46)
8th Apr 2012
10.10am (49 mins)
Gato Island

Gato Island in the distance

Gato Island has pretty diverse marine life. There were a lot of divers here so it wasn’t that enjoyable at first. Visibility also wasn’t that great, lots of specks in the water. It’s a sea snake and marine life sanctuary, so lots of sea snakes in this area. Current was also quite strong in certain areas. I had my diffuser so I was finally taking decent macro shots.

Highlights: Sea Snakes, Moray Eel, Nudibranches

Big fat nudibranch!
Moray Eel poking out of a rock. Finally decent shots without weird shadows!
Sea Snake came slinking over just as we were making out ascent - managed to get this picture~

Dive 6/12 (#47)
8th Apr 2012
12.47pm (58 mins)
Gato Island

We had a sandwich lunch on the boat during our surface interval, before going down again, this time swimming in a different direction around the island. Still kinda crowded, not as much as previously but still lots of interesting stuff here.

Highlights: Juvenile Sweetlips, spotted and swishy, a whole bunch of sexy shrimp, a whole line of squid at about 5m, A big orange Spanish Dancer, mini-crab in sea fan, more sea snakes!

Sexy Shrimp Shakin' their thang~
Little squid all lined up!
Spanish Dancer
unidentified shrimp
Spotted juvenile sweetlips couldn't stay still long enough for a decent picture!

Dive 7/12 (#48)
8th Apr 2012
3.22pm (71 mins)

We did a 4th dive today which the others had gone on their checkout dive, also on the Northeast end of the island. It’s a muck dive with a sandy bottom and lots of creatures hidden in the sand here! It’s a pretty shallow dive so we were down there for quite long. The biggest thing we saw here was a lone cuttlefish, that rippled and flashed a ring of blue when it got agitated.

Highlights: nudibranches, striped pipefish, sea snake, ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp, filefish, crabs, tomato clownfish, cuttlefish, razorfish, Fake stonefish, sea snake(phew!)

Cuttlefish flashing its blue ring at us nervously
Ornate ghost pipefish. I saw a small one and this really large one towards the end of the dive
Mantis Shrimp in a hole
Fake stonefish, or looking very much like a juvenile devil scorpionfish


well camouflaged Scorpionfish
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