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Me diving

Friday, August 31, 2012

Philippines 2012: Day 4: Verde Island Day Trip

On Friday, we went on a day trip to Verde Island.  We had to get going a little earlier, because we were going to the far side of the island, which is about a 45 minute ride (still a pretty short ride by our local standards!).  We were on a bigger boat for the trip, which I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of.  Doh!  The agenda for the trip was to do one dive on the far side, then go to a “dive camp” for a surface interval (and the cook would be dropped off to start working on lunch), then a second dive nearby, then back to camp for lunch, and then a final dive on the close side of Verde Island.  There were only four of us on the boat, which is a light load for one of these trips.  On the way over, I realized that I had left my gauges clipped to my doubles regs, back at Tech Asia.  Whoops.  Rob has a backup gauge, which he also left at Tech Asia.  Doh!  So we decided to share a gauge for the day :)

The first dive site was, I believe, called “The Dropoff”.  It was aptly name.  The site came up to maybe 20 feet, and dropped down to at least 100 feet.  It was pretty vertical once you to past about 40 feet.  It was very well-covered with coral, sponges, sea fans, gorgonians and the like.  There were also a good number of fish, like schools of anthias and such.  There were still plenty of nudibranchs and such to look at, but it was definitely more of a wide-angle site.  I kept swimming over and asking Rob how deep we were (what can I say? I just don’t trust him not to go excessively deep!).  After I did this about 3 times in the first half hour, he got really annoyed, took the gauge off, and flung it at me.  I must admit, I sort of had a feeling that the day would end with me in possession of the single gauge.

Verde Island
After our surface interval (which featured some yummy cookies and muffins), we headed to another site whose name I do not know, but it was a very nice site.  The dive started on a relatively flat area that was quite covered in coral. We were just swimming around there for a while, when we ran into a few turtles.  I think we saw three in all – one that was just swimming around, and another pair that were snoozing on the bottom.  We also saw a huge banded sea krait, which was writhing around in the water.  Neat!  Eventually we meandered into a series of pinnacles that were really nice.  They had tons of little fish swarming all around them, plus quite a bit of soft coral on the sides.  The deepest of the pinnacle was probably about 80 feet at the bottom, and the shallowest was around 20 feet on top.  We stopped for a while so Rob could take pictures of a patch of soft coral.  Actually it was a pretty long while… I was getting rather bored.  Eventually he was finished, and then we realized that the rest of the group had moved on.  I had a vague idea of the direction they’d gone (toward the shallower pinnacles), so we headed that way, but didn’t see any bubbles or anything.  Eventually after hanging out in the shallows for a while, we thumbed it, since our understanding was that if we got separated from the group, we were supposed to look around and then surface.  Apparently we had misunderstood this, and since we were still together as a buddy team, we weren’t expected to surface.  So that was sort of annoying.

We headed back to the camp for lunch, which was quite a spread!  There was bbq chicken, a Filipino noodle dish, some sort of fish dish, and a really tasty fruit salad.  And some other stuff in there as well.  After lunch, we hung out for a while, and eventually packed up and headed out for our last dive over there.  The last site, called Coral Garden, was back on the other side of the island.  We dropped into shallow water and we were in an area with patches of reef here and there, separated by sand.  It didn’t strike me as being that nice of a site at first.  We were swimming around a bit, when Rob pointed out to me that the leak alarm on his camera was going off.  Ruh-roh.  I thumbed it, but he seemed unconvinced that it required aborting the dive.  Oddly, it seemed like I was way more concerned about it than he was.  I guess he could see in the housing that there was just a little moisture.  So no pictures from this dive.  Even though I was initially pretty meh about the site, we eventually ended up in a much denser area, and it was a really nice dive.  It was a gently sloping reef, with a good number of fish, and I spent a lot of time nudi-peeping, and had a fun time with that.  We ended up in an area that was about 20 feet deep, and we spent at least the last 20 minutes of the dive there.  When it was finally time to end the dive, I thumbed it, and Rob was acting weird, asking what depth we should stop at.  I couldn’t understand why we needed any sort of stops at all when we were at 20 feet for most of the dive.  I finally remembered that he had no gauge, and was just asking what depth we were at.

When we surfaced, it had become pretty overcast, and started raining shortly after that.  It was a pretty wet ride back to the resort.  When we got back, we found that we had plenty of time to make the night dive, and even some time to warm up beforehand.  For the night dive, we were going blue-ring-octopus hunting.  We went to a site called Small La Laguna, just off to the left from the resort.  We did not succeed in finding a blue ring octopus, but this was an awesome macro dive.  We saw a pipe seahorse, (non-flamboyant) cuttlefish, a leaf scorpionfish, some other more “normal” looking scorpionfish, and of course a variety of little crabs, shrimp, flatworms, and nudibranchs.  I found a Cerberilla affinis, which I was pretty happy with, since it was unlike any other slugs we’d seen yet.  We did see one octopus, but it wasn’t blue-ring; I’m actually not sure what it was.

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