In the office, preparing for a "big" activity tomorrow...
The weekend was excellent, superb, wonderful... I could use all the superlatives I can grab from a dictionary but they won't be enough to describe the dives I made this weekend. It was meant to be another weekend of "work" dives since Tony, my buddy aka dive instructor/good friend, has 4 openwater students who need to complete their checkout dives. Due to unfortunate (now I doubt that; sorry buddy!) circumstances, he had to cancel the trip because of a bad cold.
I was joined by Aris and Lief, a wonderful couple who inspire me about how a relationship is about tolerance, acceptance, understanding and (of course) LOVE. A friend of Lief's, Jeff, joined the dives (a lovely guy BUT married AND heterosexual) while Sarah (a lovely woman...) joined the trip to windsurf and, like me, to have a weekend that would keep her sane for another week of work.
Jeff has not been diving for four years so we had to start with a "sissy" dive, pun intended. We dove at steps, not a spectacular site but good for beginners like Aris and someone who needs a refresher like Jeff. Jeff just needed a few minutes to remember how to be a fish and soon we were exploring the "steps" at STEPS, the dive site in front of Vistamar Resort where there's a hull of a ship and two blue ribbon eels under it. We saw a lot of puppies aka tame fishes who have been fed by unethical divers, a school of small barracudas and some nudibranchs but that's about it.
After lunch we did Sepoc Wall, another "sissy" dive and saw a lot of colourful corals, sponges and other organisms on the wall. Our last dive for the day is Lief's favourite: Layag-layag. This dive site actually branches into three possible other dive sites depending on the current: Kirby's Rock, Bahura and Bahura Kanto. The latter is where I usually want to go to see the adult white tip reef shark. As always this dive site has a mild current but no white tip shark. However, we were greeted by colourful corals, lots of fishes and a school of small tuna! There was even a big Titan triggerfish and we had to avoid it. The light was not superb since it was around 5:00 pm already but it was still a wonderful dive.
At this point I knew Aris is becoming a good diver, his buoyancy skills are good and he has the "eye" to see a lot of peculiar marine organisms despite the need to wear correctional glasses. Lief has been a diver for so long and is very comfortable underwater. He's my fellow underwater comedian :)
I was exhausted when we returned to the resort since I was at Bed dancing the night away with my boyfriend Buds the night before and did not have any sleep. I went to bed early and woke up after 7:00 am the next day. This was embarrassing since we agreed to dive at 7:00 am.
Since we wanted to do Mainit the day before, this time I know it would be possible since we are early. Mainit is not for the chicken-hearted hehe. It is at the tip of the peninsula and currents there are quite tricky. However, this place is known for big fishes and a lot of nice coral formations. There was even a time I saw a metre-long grouper! Upon arriving at the dive site, it was obvious there was a strong current on the surface and possibly beneath it also. I asked Lief and Aris if it was okay and they agreed we should try it. I gave the briefing and emphasised the need to stay together AND try to make it to the bend where the current is not as strong.
Upon hitting the water, we were carried by the strong current past the rocks jutting out of the water and into a very beautiful blue backdrop of colourful fishes! First we saw schools of rudderfishes and snappers. I pointed out thousands of bright red/orange fishes called Basslets being carried around by the swirling currents. Around the bend, we saw a big school of barracudas each at least 2 feet long and numbering more than 50. After that a school of Giant Trevallys/Jacks were swimming around obviously waiting for prey to be carried by the currents. Then we got into the "quiet zone" and started investigating nooks and crannies more closely. Aris saw an adult female banded sea snakes and I lifted its tail to show that its tail is shaped liked a rudder for swimming. Lief pointed at the head which was sticking out from the other side of the coral head. It was beautiful!!! We came out of the dive smiling and awed by the whole experience.
The next dive was at Twin Rocks Sanctuary which is not normally a remarkable dive but good enough. However, this time it was such an overload for the senses. Lief found a big cuttlefish and started chasing it. He found another one hiding under a small coral head and it blended in so well! Would've been nice for a picture. Then when I was playing "I Touch Roses" with some crinoids, Lief spotted a Blue-spotted stingray beneath the coral. After that we saw a mantis shrimp near a Blue ribbon eel which was joined by an Emperor Angel. We saw two more big angelfishes, Six-banded and Semicircular which used to be very rare in Anilao because of the aquarium fish trade. Now they're making a comeback! We saw so many things during that dive that now I can only remember some of them.
The nicest thing about the weekend is that there are far less divers in the water which could be the reason why our underwater friends are more relaxed and visible. These dives will keep us sane until we go back again and join them for more underwater adventures in a week or so.
Next weekend: Party time! It's time to be Proud boys and girls cause it's PRIDE TIME!!!