October 2013

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2013 was also a great year for liveaboards. We had four memorable trips to Apo reef. For 2014 we have already filled our first trip from May 1 to 7, 2014 we are therefore filling a second safary aboard MV Vasco to visit Tubbataha reef on April 24 to 30. Tubbataha is home to the best diving in the Philippines. It promises to be a fantastic trip and we hope you can join the safari. More details below.

We also have more trips to Apo Reef and Coron Bay, with the first dates already confirmed for February and April. Join us for great diving. Email Rick to find out more

Over the past year we have seen more and more turtles in Puerto Galera. One of the best places to see them is on Sabang beach, directly in front of the pier. We usually have three of four green turtles there on a daily basis as well as hawksbills. The local turtle population is now so healthy that several turtles have been laying eggs on local beaches. Yesterday 72 hawksbill turtles hatched on Small La Lagun beach and scampered to the water. Learn more about turtles below, as well as the story of tripod the three legged hawksbill.

finWe also have to extend a big thank you to everyone that sponsored our FINathon. Together we raised over $4000 to support PADI Project AWARE's fight to conserve sharks from over-fishing and finning. We'll be following up our fundraising with visits to the Mayor of Puerto Galera, to try and have the area declared a shark conservation zone.



Finally, we are pleased to report that bumphead 'buffalo' parrotfish are back in PG. We've spotting a large school on West Escarceo over the past few months. Welcome back guys!





It's been a busy year with lots of friends returning for diving and courses. Above are John Oven with his father Nic. Both have being coming to PG for years. John completed his PADI divemaster course with Corey, but check him out [photo right] in his younger days snorkeling off the dive boat. Nic now has a bit of catching up to do, if he is not to be left behind with his dive qualifications.

In the summer Cecil and Patty came back again with a large group of divers from Monterey, California. Every year Patty organises donations to the local community. This year was no exception as they came with newborn baby caps and also cash donations, with which they were able to donate oxygen regs, canullas and blood pressure meters to the PG hospital. A great idea and well received by the doctors and nurses



Above :Cecil and Patty with some of the staff of
Puerto Galera hospital


Above : Oxygen regs and nasal canullas were in short supply,
also needed were new, mercury free, blood pressure meters.

Pete Lucas not only had time to complete TDI Trimix using sidemount configuration, but also went on to do his SDI Wreck Diver cert. At right, Pete and Ton Ton practising blind gas sharing. Ton Ton has been roped into assisting with so many courses, that he is becoming quite an experienced wreck diver.

Drew Petterson and Ling Yang came to us as tech divers and quickly completed their TDI Advanced Trimix courses, culminating with an 80m dive on Verde Island. Drew managed to stay on a few days and made a 100m dive on Hibo reef, followed by an 800m climb of Mt Malasimbo, searching for the wreck of a B-24 bomber [found]. The dive was easy and well within his comfort zone, after the moutain climb - completely kn*ckered !


Drew and Ling Yang

The 2013 liveaboard season had lots of old friends join us from around the world. Among the many divers were Marc, Jim, Wade & Kelly, taking a break from making computer chips; Bob Danel brought his son Jeremiah over from the States, with Jun, Martin and Gavin. Roman & Oxsana Doroshenko flew down from HK and Mr & Mrs Sugita joined from Japan


Lock up your shoes. Winston is a loveable 5 month old Basset Hound. As the newest member of the team he is very friendly but has taken a liking to chewing slippers and dive boots. Best to put them above reach.




Above :John Oven in his younger, snorkeling days

keith gp 2

Above : Pete Lucas and Ton Ton practising blind line work for his wreck diver course.


Above : Wade & Kelly, Jim, Marc and Nate


Above :Martin, Jermiah, Bob, Gavin, Jun & Nate [again]


The newest member of the team - Winston, a five month old Basset Hound


Finally, we welcomed Johan Spannare and his friends all the way from Sweden. They had a great time on the the liveaboard to Coron & Apo. As you can see they didn't let being in the water cut into their beer time. As soon as they surfaced from their night dive the crew would have a bag of beer hanging off the boat, waiting for them.









Tubbataha Reef is considered to be jewel of Philippine diving. Located 100 miles offshore, it is home to stunning walls, large pelagics, great coral and lots of sharks.

The Tubbataha season is short, running just from March to June. We have booked MV Vasco for a second safari for the peak week of April 24 to 30. There are places for 12 more divers.

The liveaboard boards in Puerto Princesa city and includes 6 nights and 5 full diving days.


Accommodation is in twin share, aircon cabins and all meals are included on board. We dive from chase boats and groups are lead by experienced local divemasters. Expect to see lots of larger fish such as jacks and reef sharks.


The price is U$1900 per person which includes

  • Van transfers airport to pier
  • 6 night twin share aircon cabin
  • all meals on-board
  • 5 days no-deco diving
  • water, coffee, tea and juice

Not included

  • Apo Reef Marine Park Fee [approx.$78]
  • nitrox
  • equipment rental
  • drinks
  • insurance - we highly recommend full diving and travel insurance

For more information visit our tubbataha page here, or contact Rick by email



Mv Vasco

Patty Claspell

Above: outdoor diving area

wall dive

Stunning walls


turtles abound





In February and April 2014 we will be offering two liveaboard trips to Apo Reef. U$720 for 4 nights with 3 diving days . We also have other dates available from January to June, to both Apo and Coron. Contact us if you have some dates in mind or check out the full schedule here

  • February 4 to 8, 4N/3 diving day - 4 places - U$720 + Marine Park permit
  • April 24 to 28, 4N/3 diving day - 4 places - U$720 + Marine Park permit
  • Coron Wrecks Plus Apo Reef, 6 Nights - 5 diving days -throughout the season - U$1200 +

We'll be boarding Rags II, a purpose built dive boat, in Puerto Galera and then overnighting to Apo Reef. Here we will have 3 days to dive the famous wall dives of Apo. Great visibility, corals, turtles and pelagic fish are a great contrast to Puerto Galera. On the final night we set sail for Puerto galera, arriving between 0830 and 1230 the next day.


Above : Several large Napoleon wrasse, attest to a healthy ecosystem

Apo Reef is all about steep walls and plenty of fish. It's not unusual to see lots of whitetip and grey reef sharks swimming at the base of the walls, as well as lots of turtles in the shallows. The walls are very colorful with plenty of nice coral and reef fish. Dives are completed swimming on the reef flat on the top of the wall which is conveniently 5m deep. Nitrox makes the dives longer [and safer] and is available free on-board for certified nitrox divers


Above : whitetip reef sharks resting

group shot

Above : Divers and crew with smiles on their faces

Cost - U$720 per person includes 4night, 3 divng days - accommodation, tanks and weights, unlimited no-deco diving and nitrox for recreational divers, all meals and drinks [!!] also included. The only extras are rental equipment if required, Peso 2000 Apo Marine Park Entrance fee and a fuel surcharge if the price of oil should rise[ $25~$75 per person per trip].

Courses on board For recreational divers we'll be offering deep, wreck, nitrox and advanced courses on-board at a reduced rate. No formal class, or exams [except a short test for nitrox] just fun diving and lots of great experience. Let us know what class you'd like to take !Check out our Apo Reef page here and Coron page here

We'll also be having some great trips combining the wrecks of Coron Bay and Apo Reef. U$1200 for 6 nights and 5 diving days. Contact us to book a trip







Kayak group

Over the past few years we have seen a huge increase in the number of sea turtles in the area. They are especially common off Sabang Beach

Just of the pier we usually see two or three green turtles feeding on the sea grass in shallow water. The large male is almost 1.4m long and is fully mature . He is usually giving a ride to a couple of

Green turtles can be recognised by their smooth shells, with distinct plates [scutes] on the shell, straight edged upper jaw and two single scales between the eyes. Males have longer tails and the claws on their front flippers are more developed than the females. They mainly eat algae and seagrass.

The males usually have a thicker, longer tail extending out beyond the hind flippers, as well as longer claws on their front flippers.


Above: the longer male tail on this Hawksbill
Below: front male claws


At the beginning of this week we had the pleasure to see more than 70 baby hawksbill turtles hatching on Small La Laguna beach and making the short race to the sea. There is another clutch of eggs on Big La Laguna that should also be hatching soon. While most juvenile turtles do not survive to adulthood, it is great to see them laying eggs and helping to maintain a healthy local population.



Above: The green turtle shell is green~brown, with distinct scutes [plates] - check out the remora catching a free ride


In contrast the hawkbill scutes overlap and have a rich brown color. The upper jaw has an overhang [the hawk's bill]


Hatching baby hawksbill making a dash for the sea.


Tripod The Hawksbill

Early in the year we heard reports of a hawksbill turtle that had it front flipper entangled in fishing line for several weeks, resulting in the flipper dieing and making it hard for the animal to swim. We are able to capture the turtle [with the permission of the Dept.Of the Environment]. Unfortunately his flipper could not be saved and needed to be amputated by the local vet. Of course his name now became 'Tripod'

Without a suitable holding pen, Tripod was released back into the water. We were able to give him his booster antiobiotics over the next few days. However, each time we went back to him, he had not moved and did not seem to be feeding. Turtles often lose rear flippers to shark attach and can swim well without them, however the front flippers are essential to propulsion and Tripod could barely manage to swim. Unfortunately a week later he died, probably from starvation. Another important reminder to remove trash, especially plastic bags and fishing line, from the sea.


Giving the booster antibiotics



Handling was supervised by vets and only with the permission of the DENR


The front flipper had died and was only left attached by a small piece of skin. Here Alfredo Manglicmot DVM performs the simply surgery


faceMr Hiroki Baba has just recently returned to Japan after working several years in Manila. He is a keen underwater photographer and especially loves macro. Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos he took around Puerto Galera. Hopefully he will be back to visit us soon and continue to add to his beautiful portfolio of work.



above: this orange pygmy seahorse is a tough fish to photograph


above: Bubble corals are often home to beautiful crystal shrimp like this one


above:A harlequin ghost pipefish from Secret Reef






above:not all fish are big and flashy, sometimes the smaller species make better photos


above: a stunning nudi, hard to spot even for a seasoned photographer


above: a hwaksbill on West Escareco


above: just one of hundreds of local species of nudibranch


above:a great sense of depth in this photo of a clown frogfish


above:another critter from secret reef - a mimi octopus

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  • Inner located elbow to avoid overhead interference
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  • Ready out of the box! (2) Tank bungees, (2) SS Cam bands, (4) SS Bolt snaps & line included with kit
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  • Not yet sidemount trained, or interested to have a go? It takes just two days and four dives to complete your SDI or PADI Sidemount courses. Drop into the shop and have a go !








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