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Trip Start Apr 14, 1992
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Flag of Philippines  , Central Visayas,
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My apologies for not posting in the past 3 weeks! It's been very busy around here, and responding to emails, planning what I'll be doing in the coming month and a halfish time, studying all my divemaster stuff, and of course diving, writing here has kind of taken a back seat. Now I find myself with some downtime so I figured I'd write some posts. The time since the Pacquiao fight has absolutely flown by! With no more days off since that one, I've either been assisting on some courses, participating in workshops, or a number of other things, most of which involved 3 dives a day! I've really racked up my dives since I've been here, and even had my 100th dive going through the cave at Gato Island and seeing a Whitetip Reef shark and some mating cuttlefish! There's been loads of highlights since I've last written, so just a brief recap of what has happened since then:

- A baby whale shark happened to stray its way directly infront of the dive shop! Myself and one of the instructors, Nathan, were standing on the beach and saw everyone in the boats chasing after it. So we thought to each other, wow I really kind of want to go out there and see it...it should be out there for a while. So we both instantly turned around and hurried to go grab our fins, mask and snorkel and swam out there as fast as we possibly could. Now when it was first spotted it was infront of the shop, but by this point it was pretty far away, and let me tell you that was not the easiest swim -- er should I say sprint I have ever done. By the time we got out there, I was so out of breath I could not even manage to dive down and swim next to it for more than 5 seconds, and of course as I'm surfacing there's about 30 other people around so I had to watch out not to get kicked in the head! Overall though it was definitely a decision worth making, it was my first whale shark after all!

- Waking up at 4 in the morning is never very pleasant, however it is something you have to do on Malapascua if you expect to go see some Threshers! The 4am alarm was consistently worth it, as I saw these awesome sharks maybe 95% of the time I went, and when not seeing them, you were occasionally graced by the presence of a devil ray or manta! The 2 most memorable shark dives I went on were my last ones. Both of these dives started off pretty terribly before we even got onto the boat, the weather was terrible and forced our boats to load from the other side of the island, which in-turn made everything run late. When it was supposed to be a 5am departure for the site, we actually weren't leaving until 5:45 or 6 o'clock, which is not supposed to be good for thresher sightings as it is normally to bright out by the time you get out to the site (which is a 20 minute boat ride away). So as we were departing I honestly wasn't expecting to see anything, and it also didn't help that we were going to the "new" site, where my personal sightings had not been so good. However, I was with 2 of the other trainee dive masters and one of them had asked the local dive master if he could drop us at the "old" site because they had to go back to repair a mooring line anyway. He had no problem with this so we were jumping in at the "old" site, which surprisingly had no other boats there! As soon as we got down to the bottom of the line, one of the local DMs spotted a thresher, so we swam in the direction it was heading, on our way over there, one of the trainees spotted another one, but then both of them swam off quickly in the opposite direction. Once they vanished, we were pleasantly surprised to see a devil ray come swooping in over the cleaning station! Once the devil ray had gone, we sat and waited at the cleaning station for another appearance of some sharks. I told my 2 buddies to wait there, and I would look farther left, where I had seen some before. Lo and behold there was a shark circling there! So I got their attention and they came over and watched. Of course, I wanted to get closer, so I told them we should circle farther left and come up from its side, because it should still be there for a while when it's getting cleaned. Once we came up from the side of it, it was gone, which we all found very strange. Then, from behind me I hear the other 2 buddies SCREAMING through their regulators, and as I turn around I see a huuuggeee manta ray swooping in across our left side out in the blue. We were able to stay and watch this manta for about 10 minutes as it stayed and got cleaned, and as it vanished, we decided we could call it a dive and head back to the line. While we were headed back to our line, we were again surprised to see yet another thresher swoop in from the shallows and drop back down over the cleaning station, so naturally, we went back down to the cleaning station. We stayed until our NDLs were getting too low for comfort, and as we headed back to the line for good this time, another devil ray came soaring in straight towards us and immediately turned around once I quickly pointed at it. What an awesome dive, all this seen in around 30 minutes on the bottom of Old Monad Shoal! The next day we figured we would have to go again since the previous morning was so eventful. Again, the boat left late but it didn't bring my hopes down nearly as much as it did the day before. We specifically asked to go to the old site again, and they had no problem with that whatsoever. Me and the two other trainees were the last people in the water, and I guess everyone before us pushed left, but once we descended down the line, a thresher was immediately in our sights, this time to our right. So we followed it right, this time with myself in the back of the group. I turned my head over my shoulder to see if any other groups would be coming our way, only to see yet another giant manta cruising in over this cleaning station, and this time it was me that my buddies heard screaming through my regulator at them! Then for a while they both disappeared, then another shark came in, and to everyones surprise, a second, smaller manta! It's believed that mantas and threshers do not like to share the cleaning station, so generally when one sees the other, they kind of let it be and go find somewhere else, but this dive was different. On 2 different occasions I was able to see both a manta and thresher just by turning my head! There was even one point where a manta and shark were circling in such a way where they were both swimming straight for each other and peeled off at the last minute! It's times like these where I wish I had a better camera with some HD video capability! Those two dives were definitely ones I won't forget during my time there.

- On top of those 2 stories above, my trip has just been complete with some good diving, good people, and good times. The weather was good at times, and absolutely terrible at times, but that's nothing to complain about when living on an island for 5 weeks!
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