As a few of you will know I usually make an annual trip to the Philippine island of Oriental Mindoro once a year. I had originally planned for this to be late January ~ early February of this year but for various reasons this had to be changed to late March ~ early April, I had been at this time before and I thought I knew what to expect!
I had quite a collection of new kit with me including regs, BCD and camera equipment, so I was curious as to how it would all work together. Once at the dive resort I decided to give my kit a try in the pool and to check my weights before going into the sea proper, once in the pool I tugged on my new Sherwood BCD’s dump valve and the toggle came off in my hand. I should have taken this as a warning of future things to come!
In total I think I had 4 hardware failures during the holiday including blue torch flooding, camera /flash fibre optic cable being somewhat inconsistent and HP hose leaks, anyways enough about equipment and now to the dives.
I booked 20 dives and managed 18, the majority of the dive sites I had visited before.
My first dive was at Fantasea reef a nice gentle dive site around the 23m mark with lots to see and usually a very gentle current going in your direction. I decided to wear my 2mm shorty (well the air temp was around 33 degrees). I dropped off the boat and found myself in a very cold 26 degrees and the visibility was only around 8m! Not what I expect at Mindoro, I kept checking the temp read out on my computer and my BT and both were telling me 26 degrees my senses were telling me “your equipment is faulty it’s about 14!”. The following day I started wearing my 5mm full wetsuit and this made things more bearable, although it didn’t do anything for the visibility which at best was 12m.
Now being a Glaswegian earthquakes are something I don’t usually experience and my second night in the hotel I was lying on the bed and the room started to shake, I found this a bit perplexing since I knew I hadn’t been drinking and three minutes later the room did the same to a lesser extent, when I went for breakfast the following morning I was informed that there had actually been eight earthquakes that night.
Now a few of you maybe be thinking and what has this to do with a holiday dive report! Well two days later I am diving at Sinadigan Wall (20m down) watching a 4ft green turtle when I feel rapid tapping on my chest which quickly became rapid thrusting on my chest and my ears were pounding and feeling as if they were about to explode! Yip I was feeling an earthquake at 20m below the surface of the sea. At first I thought my tank had exploded (which is quite ironic because my guide later told me that he had thought that his tank had exploded), we soon realised that it was an earthquake and unknown to us about 50m away from us the cliff face was tumbling into the sea, the aftershock came and our solution to this was to place our fingers in our ears, after we had done our safety stop and was on the surface I was surprised to see that the sea was as calm as a duck pond.
So what marine life was in Mindoro this year? Well there were blue Jacks, sweat lips, various groupers, barracuda, clown fish by the score, trigger fish, bat fish, turtles both green and hawk billed, moray eels, sea snakes, squid, sea horses and an increase in manta shrimps, what I didn’t see was a single Lion fish for some unknown reason there numbers seem to be dwindling?
As mentioned earlier my blue torch flooded on it’s 1st dive at around 23m which curtailed any fluorescent night diving though some fluorescent day time diving was tried, another tragedy is the “Alma Jane” dive site is no longer my “special place” last year when I visited her there were an additional 49 divers around her when I went this year there were so many divers that she was surround by a wall of bubbles.
The average temp for the 18 dives would have been around 27 degrees, the coldest being 24 degrees and the warmest being 29 degrees visibility was fluctuating between 8m and 12m, I’d be surprised if the amount of earthquake activity going on had not something to do with both temperature and visibility.
This wasn’t the holiday I expected for so many reasons but it was still an enjoyable diving holiday. I have been informed that one ofthe dive resorts will be offering three day trips to Apo reef as of September, so I will be keeping an eye open on this as Apo reef is probably the best dive site in the whole of the Philippines.
I hope you enjoyed reading my report
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