Tall tails of Malapascua

Thresher shark in Malapascua
Thresher shark in Malapascua

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Steve Weinman

Divers prize encounters with thresher sharks, and Malapascua can usually be relied on to provide them but, as MICHEL BRAUNSTEIN discovers, a shark dive before breakfast leaves ample time for a wealth of other underwater diversions. He took the pictures

The Coral Triangle is renowned for its abundant variety of fish and corals, with species reproducing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world. In certain dive spots, scientists have identified more than 70 coral species, comparable to the total number found across the Caribbean. 

An integral part of the triangle is the Philippines, though it isn’t only divers who appreciate the country, which has a natural topside beauty and many diversions beyond the underwater world. 

The Philippines boasts a remarkable variety of reef life, from the macro up to whale shark dimensions, while wreck enthusiasts will discover remarkable sites too. In 1944 the Japanese Navy stationed a large fleet in Coron Bay to evade US planes before it was eventually discovered and bombed. These sunken ships have become habitats for marine life in their own right.

Malapascua Island off northern Cebu
Malapascua Island off northern Cebu

I had the opportunity to explore only a fraction of what the Philippines has to offer on a recent visit – and one tiny island in particular encapsulates the range of marine life that can be found there.

Thresher sharks

Off the northern part of Cebu, Malapascua Island is one of those places well-placed to offer incredible macro subjects, though its main claim to fame comes from the presence of elegant thresher sharks, which ascend from the depths to visit cleaning stations every day. 

Black and white photography works well for Malapascua’s thresher sharks
Black and white photography works well for Malapascua’s thresher sharks
Black and white photography works well for Malapascua’s thresher sharks
Black and white photography works well for Malapascua’s thresher sharks

With their extended tails and graceful movements, to see them feels like watching a ballet. Maintaining proper buoyancy is crucial when diving at Kimud Shoal to avoid damaging the reef. Photographers refrain from using strobes to prevent startling the sharks and risking their premature departure.

Thresher sharks are not easy to approach closely. You must be patient and remain quiet. Eventually, they become more confident, and can come so near that you observe their long tails swaying above your head.

Romance at sundown

I was diving Malapascua from the Evolution Resort. The reef around the island also boasts an impressive mandarinfish habitat. These colourful creatures emerge from their hiding places to mate at night, and require patience and the use of red light for photography

Patience is rewarded as night falls and the mandarinfish emerge to mate
Patience is rewarded as night falls and the mandarinfish emerge to mate
Patience is rewarded as night falls and the mandarinfish emerge to mate
Patience is rewarded as night falls and the colourful mandarinfish emerge to mate

I spent more than 70 minutes rooted to the same spot, waiting to observe and photograph these little fish. What an exciting experience it was to see them emerge for a few seconds and strive to capture the perfect shot, although I found enduring the cool temperatures without moving for such a long time quite challenging. Warming up under a refreshing shower back at the dive-centre was no less enjoyable.

One of the many seahorses
One of the many seahorses

The reefs around the island teem with marine life, but the seahorses stand out in all kinds of vibrant colours. Also memorable was the touching scene of a crab embracing its offspring. Both creatures seemed to gaze at me, the small one nestled in the pincers of the larger one. 

Crustacean parental control
Crustacean parental control
Nudibranchs are also present in profusion
Nudibranchs are present in profusion

Gato Island

Another must-visit dive-site is Gato Island, a special place that boasts rich underwater scenery. Photographers will find at least a couple of dives essential here: one with a wide-angle lens and another with a macro lens. 

That’s because the location offers such a diverse array of marine life. Exploring its caverns and passages we encounter resting whitetip sharks with their young, which turns out to be an incredibly moving sight.

Magnificent canyons are adorned with strap-weed filefish (Pseudomonacanthus macrurus), which caught our imagination, while encounters with sea snakes, turtles and barracuda added to the sense of adventure.

Gato Island is also a haven for macro enthusiasts, featuring as it does an abundance of nudibranchs, seahorses, harlequin ghost pipefish and a creature that is becoming more of a rarity in the Philippines – the tiny pygmy seahorse, specifically the Denise variety.

Porcelain crab in anemones
Porcelain crab in anemones

Technical issues prevented photography at Gato during my visit, so I’m eager to return to capture the beauty of this remarkable location. As General McArthur said (long before Arnie): “I’ll be back!”

Bad luck and good

Unfortunately, I had another camera moment when luck wasn’t on my side. After a night-dive I realised that my snoot had not been properly secured and was now lost at sea.

I promptly informed the Evolution dive-centre of my loss – and was pleasantly surprised when a guide from another centre came across it and shared a picture on a WhatsApp group. 

Outrigger dive-boats of Malapascua
Outrigger dive-boats of Malapascua

Confirming ownership to our dive-guide, I was overjoyed to have it returned, especially as the trip was still in its early stages. I had no more unwelcome issues with my camera gear. 

The Philippines is a remarkably welcoming country, its people exceptionally kind and helpful. Diving conditions are favourable almost year-round, with a shortie or 3mm wetsuit usually ideal.

Cuttlefish
Cuttlefish
Coral shrimp
Coral shrimp

Malapascua offers a tranquil atmosphere, and numerous water sports besides scuba to enjoy. Getting around is easy too – a motorcycle taxi will take you wherever you want to go for a small fee, and it’s a delightful and enjoyable way to explore the island. 

The primary language spoken is Tagalog, blended with Spanish and some English, but the latter is widely understood.

Evolution Diving Resort

For divers looking to experience Malapascua, either as a standalone or part of a bigger trip to Cebu or elsewhere in the Philippines, Evolution Diving Resort offers a five-night twin-share stay in an air-conditioned Deluxe room with breakfast, return airport transfers from Cebu Mactan Airport, 12 dives (equipment excluded) including with thresher sharks, a trip to Gato Island and a night dive, with all local marine fees from £685. Return flights from the UK from around £700.

Also on Divernet: Top Green Fins dive-centre is on Malapascua, Never mind the threshers!, All creatures great and small, The Ghost in the Sea, … but I’ll never forget those threshers!

This week, it looks like DPV manufacturer ScubaJet has begun insolvency proceedings. PADI has distributed half a million dollars in their Project Aware campaign. Dorset coastguard have called off the search for a missing diver. And the Pearl Fleet has commented on a viral video of a shark-dive that didn’t go so well
https://taucher.net/diveinside-insolvency_proceedings_at_scubajet-kaz9246
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/conservation/padi-aware-distributes-500k-in-mission-hub-grants/
https://www.scubadivermag.com/raid-launches-ots-full-face-mask-programme/
https://www.scubadivermag.com/dorset-coastguard-call-off-search-for-diver/
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/health-safety/search-for-diver-off-dorset-stood-down/
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/health-safety/pearl-fleet-hits-back-as-maldives-shark-dive-slammed/
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The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.

This week, it looks like DPV manufacturer ScubaJet has begun insolvency proceedings. PADI has distributed half a million dollars in their Project Aware campaign. Dorset coastguard have called off the search for a missing diver. And the Pearl Fleet has commented on a viral video of a shark-dive that didn’t go so well
https://taucher.net/diveinside-insolvency_proceedings_at_scubajet-kaz9246
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/conservation/padi-aware-distributes-500k-in-mission-hub-grants/
https://www.scubadivermag.com/raid-launches-ots-full-face-mask-programme/
https://www.scubadivermag.com/dorset-coastguard-call-off-search-for-diver/
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/health-safety/search-for-diver-off-dorset-stood-down/
https://divernet.com/scuba-news/health-safety/pearl-fleet-hits-back-as-maldives-shark-dive-slammed/
Diving Into The Darkness Link:
https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/mzsd


Become a fan: https://www.scubadivermag.com/join
Gear Purchases: https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/dive-gear
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Website: https://www.scubadivermag.com ➡️ Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Scuba Gear Reviews
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Website: https://www.rorkmedia.com ➡️ For advertising within our brands
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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.

YouTube Video UEw2X2VCMS1KYWdWbXFQSGV1YW84WVRHb2pFNkl3WlRSZS5GNzRBRjZBMTFFRDU2OERD

Missing Diver Search Called Off #scuba #news #podcast

@preethasebastian8921
Sharks and Yum Yum Yellow. What are your thoughts? #askmark
#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
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@preethasebastian8921
Sharks and Yum Yum Yellow. What are your thoughts? #askmark
#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
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YouTube Video UEw2X2VCMS1KYWdWbXFQSGV1YW84WVRHb2pFNkl3WlRSZS4zMzg4MjBBNzZCQzY5MDk4

Are Sharks Attracted to the Colour Yellow? #AskMark

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@emilyZA460
#AskMark hi! I was hoping you could help me understand the interchangeability of a DSMB and a simple SMB if I only plan to use it when I deploy it during my safety stop at 5 meters. I used the simple version for this purpose during my last liveaboard and despite occasionally having to reinflate at the surface due to some air escaping while being deployed underwater, it didn’t seem to be too problematic and so I was wondering if it’s necessary to have a DSMB for this purpose? The issue for me is that somehow I tend to end up misplacing my SMB quite often and so the price difference between the two makes it a more acceptable loss when it’s replacing the SMB regularly rather than the DSMB at double the cost
#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
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The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.

Diving Into The Darkness Website:
https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/mzsd

@emilyZA460
#AskMark hi! I was hoping you could help me understand the interchangeability of a DSMB and a simple SMB if I only plan to use it when I deploy it during my safety stop at 5 meters. I used the simple version for this purpose during my last liveaboard and despite occasionally having to reinflate at the surface due to some air escaping while being deployed underwater, it didn’t seem to be too problematic and so I was wondering if it’s necessary to have a DSMB for this purpose? The issue for me is that somehow I tend to end up misplacing my SMB quite often and so the price difference between the two makes it a more acceptable loss when it’s replacing the SMB regularly rather than the DSMB at double the cost
#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
LINKS

Become a fan: https://www.scubadivermag.com/join
Gear Purchases: https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/dive-gear
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OUR WEBSITES

Website: https://www.scubadivermag.com ➡️ Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Scuba Gear Reviews
Website: https://www.divernet.com ➡️ Scuba News, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Travel Reports
Website: https://www.godivingshow.com ➡️ The Only Dive Show in the United Kingdom
Website: https://www.rorkmedia.com ➡️ For advertising within our brands
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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.

YouTube Video UEw2X2VCMS1KYWdWbXFQSGV1YW84WVRHb2pFNkl3WlRSZS4yOUY5MUNBMTM5RDMyREQ5

What's the Point of Fancy dSMBs? #askmark #scuba

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