First week diving in Puerto Galera

Unicornfish photographed at Sabang Point, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines

Unicornfish photographed at Sabang Point, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines

It’s been a great first week diving in Puerto Galera.  I’ve completed 10 dives so far.  Water temperatures have been running from 82-84 degrees fahrenheit.  It’s rained almost every day, but no surprise there as it’s the rainy season!  I’ve never let rain bother me.  I’m going to get wet anyway and I like to say “It doesn’t rain underwater”!

I’m pacing myself as I’m going to be here for a month.  Although I’m on track to do 40 dives as planned, I may drop that back to 30.  I’m spending a bit more for meals than I had planned (I may have to actually break down and cook!) and there are a few above water activities that I’m looking at.

I got here last Wednesday.  The weather hasn’t really been great, but Frontier Scuba has still been going out at least 3 times a day, even if I’m the only diver on the boat!  This was one of the reasons I ended up picking them.  They were not the least expensive (they were 2nd least though).  The cheapest dive op was only going out twice a day (usually) and since it’s the off-season I knew (from past experience) there would be times when I’d be the only one on the boat. Beyond those two dives a day, I had to have someone with me or it was a 150 pesos more a dive than Frontier Scuba.  That could add up to a point that I wasn’t saving any money, or not that much.  I had more flexibility with Frontier.

I don’t mind paying a little more if I think I’m getting better service and Rick impressed me with his responsiveness to emails also.  I need to do 30 dives to get Frontier’s cheapest rate (850 pesos a dive) and 3 dives a day gives me confidence that even if I want to sleep in occasionally or take a day off here and there, I can easily make 30 dives in 4 weeks.

I did my first dive on Thursday afternoon at Monkey Beach. It had been six weeks since I’d been diving!  My gills were drying out again!! Bottom time ended up being 45 minutes with a maximum depth of 78 feet.

I ended up doing 3 dives on Friday.  Montani, Lalaguna Point, and West Escarceo.  Montani is mostly a sandy bottom and is in a protected area. 54 minute dive to a maximum depth of 63 feet.  The next dive was Lalaguna Point between Big Lalaguna Beach and Small Lalaguna Beach.  A nice dive, again ending up at 45 minutes with a maximum depth this time of 78 feet. The last dive at West Escarceo ended up being a train ride as the current picked up towards the end of the dive and we called it early.  I wasn’t going to get any photos anyway at that point!

On Saturday I dived the Clam Farm (so called because Giant Clams have been transported there from around the Philippines and “planted” as a dive site).  In addition to the Giant Clams, my guide spotted a blenny near the beginning of the dive.  We also saw two sea moths and a stonefish.  Dive time was 62 minutes and maximum depth was 62 feet.  No I didn’t plan it that way!

Spotted a Giant Frogfish on the last dive of the day at “The Speedboat” which is near the St. Christopher.  The St. Christopher, which is also known as Anton’s wreck is a 65 foot live-aboard dive boat, that was sunk off the end of El Galleon pier in 1995.  Lots of the “usual suspects” as I call them at most of the dive sites here.  Nudibranchs, sweetlips, snapper, anthias, jacks, lionfish, butterflyfish, wrasse… the list goes on!  Dive time on these two wrecks was 45 minutes.  Maximum depth was 79 feet.

On Sunday I dived two of my favorites.  We went to Coral Cove for the first dive.  Nice amount of nudibranchs, a moray eel, and of course… the “usual suspects”!  Total dive time was 64 minutes. Maximum depth was 83 feet.

After our surface interval we did Sinandigan Wall which turned out to be another nice dive!  Started seeing nudibranchs almost immediately.  Lionfish and a nice size sea snake that was probably over 3 feet long. 61 minute dive time with maximum depth of 89 feet.

Monday was my birthday and I ended up deciding not to dive.

Tuesday I dived West Escarceo again.  Much nicer this time as we didn’t have to deal with the current.  Was a nice dive with plenty of the “usual suspects” to observe!

Dwarf Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco) photographed at West Escarceo, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines in August 2016.

Dwarf Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco) photographed at West Escarceo, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines in August 2016.

Today I dived Sabang Point.  A nice dive with a little excitement at the end.  I was taking photos when I looked up and saw my dive guide being chased by a Titan Triggerfish!  Crap!  We’d stumbled onto a nesting area!

I started swimming at an angle away from my guide as fast as I could!  We lost sight of each other rather quickly as visibility was only about 40 feet.  Fortunately I kept looking behind me because all of a sudden the triggerfish was right behind me, literally snapping at my fins as I swam as fast as I could while dumping air from my wing!  Finally after what seemed like forever, but I’m sure was less than a minute the triggerfish broke off pursuit…. I continued to watch in case he came back and broke out my SMB.  Enough for one day!  Just before I could deploy it the guide found me and had already deployed theirs.

A good first week!

Moray eel photographed at Sabang Point, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines.

Moray eel photographed at Sabang Point, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines.

 

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