Hide and Seek – 30m down and Gato Rock – Day 96 – Apr 24

This was one of those mornings when you think – what is that noise for it is still dark, followed by, is it merely a ringing in my ears, lastly followed by – argh no it is the alarm and we are off diving. The time 4am, (YES 4am!), so early if tested I would still be defined as ‘being asleep’ or ‘unconscious’. That being the case we both wobbled ‘zombie-like’ around the room for a while bumping into each other, the bed etc., before finally being acceptably dressed and ready to take in the morning air. Had I been compis mentis and watching the proceedings outside my body it would have been a hoot but I was taking part so ended up with my boxers on upside down and a bump on my head from walking into one of the many walls in our room – I counted thirty five but could have been going round in circles for a while!

It was quite a surreal early morning stroll – everywhere in darkness except the scuba diving centres which were a hive of activity. Every now and then you would see guys in the lights near the beach path running round with things looking like Giant’s suppositories or huge Vicks nasal spray but which actually were the Oxygen tanks which we should soon be taking with us to our destination the Monad Shoal for Thresher Shark watching. On our boat was a South Korean called Jerome Kim who seemed like a nice guy and had some serious photographing equipment going on.

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Jerome’s equipment next to ours – impressive eh!

As we arrived at our intended destination a ‘something’ actually jumped out of the water – we asked the boatmen and it turned out what we had seen was a Thresher Shark. Now this seemed so very incredible that it certainly stirred really encouraging thoughts in our heads. There must be so very many sharks in the water that some were actually jumping out of the water to see us. So we donned our scuba equipment with great excitement and not a little expectancy.

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Early morning and we are off diving whilst others are asleep – hope the fish are awake!

We entered the water and descended through thousands of tiny little blue jellyfish like little blue stars, one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Our first stop was 15m to see if we could see the sharks higher up thus conserving our air and increasing our time – along the way we saw some Blue Peacock Shrimp. However, there were no sharks here so we then dropped further down to the 30m maximum that is the limit of where our qualifications allow us to dive to. Here the visibility lessened somewhat – this was going to be tricky. At 30m there was an area fenced off – underwater fencing- we sat down on the crest of a ridge and waited and time was running out. After a while and time ticking, through the gloom we actually saw a Thresher which then buzzed past us – it looked beautiful long tail and really big eyes, it came past a couple of times and then we had to be out of there and back up on our ascent. On our way up we saw a small Frogfish. All in all it had been a great dive and we had completed it under great control too and we had seen a Thresher – what a dive!

As this first dive had been so early we now were going to return to the island, have some breakfast and then come back out for the second set of dives which was going to Gato Rock a nearby island.

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Gato Rock

The first dive here was really beautiful as the sunlight was streaming down around the rock. Here we saw a White Tipped Reef shark although he was asleep and they are not supposed to be dangerous they still look sharky enough and this is enough to put the willies up you. We saw some pretty neat other stuff as well – White Thorned Seahorse, Nudibranch and a Poisonous Banded Sea Snake.

The second dive here was to be a bit more challenging as we were to go through ‘the Tunnel’ – a 30m long tunnel through the rock. We were equipped with torches and dropped down from the boat. The tunnel was very exciting and although Liz did not enjoy it she managed to get through it fine and this was good because on the other side was a White Tipped Reef shark milling about the exit in the rays from the Sun too so it looked like a National Geographic picture. Another repeat sighting was of another (or the same) Banded Sea Snake but we also saw a couple of Cuttlefish who looked like they were in the early stages of ‘getting it on’, more nudibranch and an Ornate Ghost Pipefish too. Another challenging dive which we again managed to complete and see some new stuff on as well – mission accomplished.

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Like most creatures of the sea I look far more elegant in the water than out of it!!!

The only thing which marred both of our last two dives was the fact that Jerome had gills – he could stay underwater for a very long time so we had to wait a long time for him to come back in, at one point our dive master had to actually call him in. He must have been under the water a full hour longer than we could stay down.

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Picture taken whilst waiting for Jerome – I also managed to read War and Peace too!

When back and rested we went out at night to a restaurant recommended to us by Hiedrun and funnily enough at the end of our meal – which was very nice – we saw her and invited her over to have a drink and she was really nice to talk to. She told us lots of interesting stuff about both Cebu and the Philippines in general as she had lived in Cebu for a good number of years so she was very interesting company. In the distance the sky had taken that intense broody moody look that only skies over small islands can do, clouds can be right bullies. All said though it was an excellent end to a excellent day.

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