Saturday, March 7, 2015

Malapascua Diving Special. Monad Shoal

There's no doubt that diving Philippines is an amazing experience and no visit is complete without diving the idyllic island of Malapascua. This week we begin a series of features designed to showcase some of the very best of Malapascua diving as well as introduce some of our PADI Divemasters here at Exotic Resort. Every few weeks the Blog will dedicate itself to this project and this week we begin with Monad Shoal which has to be Malapascua's most famous spot for diving and is home to our famous Thresher sharks.


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Wilmar delivers the briefing with his eyes shut. Pro.
It's early in the morning, 0430 in fact as The Blog sets its bleary eyes on our Divemaster Wilmar, who pours me a well needed complimentary cup of coffee and places it in my feeble hands. Wilmar started his career at Exotic as a member of boat crew before progressing to captain and then three years ago he became a Divemaster. As a life long Malapascuan and father of only two he considers himself lucky considering so many of the islands people have more than enough children to field their own football team. Anyway, his cheery face is a welcome at this hour as he introduces me to my French buddies, Pierre and Monique before delivering our dive briefing. Apparently, it will take only thirty minutes to reach Monad Shoal on our boat which is Exotic 2. Our max depth will be twenty three metres as that is where the cleaning stations are located and our dive will last around fourty minutes. Sounds good to me.


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Charge!
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Dolter secures the buoy line
After reaching Monad we wait a few minutes for the light to pick up before entering the water in an orderly fashion. We descend down Exotics very own buoy line to about thirteen metres
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No-one loves me
from where we follow Wilmar down a gradual slope until we reach a rope which stretches between two concrete blocks at twenty three metres. This is the point of no return and prevents divers from trespassing onto the protected cleaning station which is located just beyond. I instantly notice a lovely nudibranch but my buddy doesn't share my enthusiasm so I don't even bother pointing out the beautiful leaf scorpion fish also close by. Pierre is after shark action as we all are.

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A close encounter
Meanwhile, Wilmar stares into the distance like a sentry on duty. He points beyond the rope and after a second I notice something approaching. Sure enough it's a thresher sh-sh-sh-shark!!! OMG! Apparently, as Wilmar told me earlier, the sharks normally live at great depth and have sensitive eyes which are able to tolerate the early morning sunlight only. The fish which pick parasites from the sharks skin
wake up at this time providing a small and early window of opportunity for both to interact. After a few minutes the shark moves on so Wilmar decides to move us across to a different part of the site.

video
Then it all kicks off! Truly amazing. Not one but two sharks circle in front of us as well as a small eagle ray. It's quite a mesmerising sight watching these graceful creatures up close and a privilege that they appear totally unbothered by our presence and are prepared to share their space with us. Here's my video! Understandably, there's no shortage of smiles on the trip back to Exotic. Quite simply an amazing start to the day and it's easy to see how diving Malapascua has become such a fixture on the diving circuit. Upon our return, the breakfast buffet just tops it all off and it's still only 8am!!

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