LOL – Lauren on Location rounded off a fabulous week of diving at Monad Shoal with 2 dives at Gato Island (about 1 – 1 1/2 hrs boat ride N.W. of Malapascua Island) today, which was absolutely incredible, the visibility was particularly good especially on our first dive and the water was like glass.
Managed to see a number of White-tip reef sharks, hanging out under ledges and in caves which was incredible and of course my highlight, however the sheer abundance of soft coral cover was outstanding especially the pulsing coral which was absolutely mesmerizing and definitely had the ability to put me in a trance like state.
Gato Island – a view from the water
The second dive included a cave dive, which was excellent if not somewhat disorientating in the complete blackness, we also saw more white-tip’s including one free – swimming.
Whitetip reef shark
During the week I had enjoyed all sorts of macro life (such as octopus, squid, cuttlefish, scorpionfish, stonefish, lizard fish etc…) as well as 3 of the most impressive elasmobranch visitors to Monad shoal; Thresher Sharks, Devil Rays and Manta Rays.
I had missed the Manta Ray visits the previous week due to my ear infection and was beginning to get desperate for a sighting.
As we descended for our final dive of the day, I began to make out abstract white shapes in the water; I was puzzled until I realized that the white patches were linked together and formed the absolutely massive body of a Manta Ray estimated at 5m (conservative!) across from wingtip to wingtip! The ability of this behemoth to move so gracefully underwater was fantastic, it held such a presence.
LOL – Lauren on Location – Too much detail around ear infections balanced by some rather nice photos.
A little over a week ago I was starting to get impatient, I had been out of the water for several days due to an infection in my right ear and (more importantly) no longer wanted to wear a woolly hat on the boat to stop the wind aggravating it whilst everyone else was diving, however a trip in to Cebu city was on the cards for me to go and renew my visa, which I thought I may as well combine with a trip to the ENT Doc to try and find a solution to my resounding deafness!
After going to the bureau of immigration and extending my visa (first extension is 38 days and cost me less than 4000 pesos, thereafter I can extend for 2 months at a time), I headed to Dr Gary Rivera’s surgery located at Suite 321, M. Diaz Building, Cor. Don Jose Avila St, Osmena Blvd, Cebu City, with the hope that I could get an appointment. Everyone was brilliant and I just waited in line for my turn to see the Doctor, when I was being seen the first thing Dr Rivera said was “I can’t see your ear drum” after seeing my frown of concern he quickly said “there’s so much residual infection stuck to it I need to suction it out”, after having several alarming metal rods poked in my ear and after swapping to a higher power suction machine I was more than happy to realize that my hearing was greatly improved. I was sent away with some drops to get rid of the remaining stubborn gunk stuck to my ear drum (thank you so much to Dr Rivera and his surgery team, I fully recommend him for anyone requiring an ENT doctor in the Cebu City area).
Once back on the island I was more than happy to be back in the water and being spoilt by visits from numerous Devil Rays and Thresher Sharks and many other critters on the reef, I am really enjoying experimenting with underwater photography, I only have a compact setup (Panasonic Lumix with HD video), but I have been delighted with the images I have captured.
The Thresher Sharks are a challenge as they tend to arrive very early in the morning when the visibility is poor. All images have been taken with the flash turned off so as to minimize the impact and disturbance on the reef life.