A Christmas reef clean up – making a difference

Here at Quo Vadis Dive Resort, we think that being a diver carries more responsibilities than just diving and looking at fish. As soon as you get certified as a diver, you don’t just learn about safe diving practices, but your instructor should also have taught you about the importance of being a responsible diver in regards to the environment.

The surface of the world as we know it right now consists of 71% water, and the oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth’s water. Rain forests are responsible for roughly one-third of the Earth’s oxygen, but most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants. The production of oxygen in the ocean is created by plants (phytoplankton, kelp and algal plankton) that live in the ocean. Same as plants on land, the marine plants produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis. This process converts carbon dioxide and sunlight into sugars that the organisms use for energy. One specific type of phytoplankton (Prochlorococcus) releases vast amounts of oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere. It is the most abundant photosynthetic organism on our planet.

Phytoplankton creates the base of the marine food chain. The health of all organisms in the ocean is directly related to the health of phytoplankton.

So how can we help to save our oxygen?

Save the phytoplankton!

How do we do this?

Decrease you impact on pollution by using less energy (go to work via public transportation or your old school bicycle), help protect habitats on land and in the ocean (donate to organizations that can make a difference or volunteer on land or in the ocean by doing clean ups), encourage others to stop over-harvesting ocean wildlife (talk about the negative effects in the ocean of consuming predatory fish and also the consistency of mercury in bigger predatory fish and personal health risks that are related to the consumption of a lot of fish).

Since you see what is going on as a snorkeler or a diver below the surface, you can personally help out by not only telling how amazing the marine life is, but also the changes that you might have seen already over the last few decades. Your pictures and stories can help others care as much as you about the ocean and their habitants, and hopefully through your stories you can educate others about the importance of protecting our oceans. You are a diver, snorkeler, and with it you are the most important ambassadors to help protect our oceans and oxygen.

Want to make a difference soon?

Come and join us on our Christmas reef clean up and by diving against debris we will donate 500 Php of the money you paid for the dive to PROJECT AWARE to help save our oceans. Find us on Facebook or simply e-mail and sign up! See you on the 22nd of December!

Christmas Reef Clean up - 22qnd of December 2017

Christmas Reef Clean up – 22nd of December 2017

Written by Inge Leys – Quo Vadis Dive Center Manager

What exactly is coral??

Coral reefs are formed by groups of marine invertebrates that live together.

Each individual is known as a polyp. Corals feed by sticking out their tentacles into the water and catching drifting plankton and when they’re inactive, corals protect themselves by withdrawing their tentacles.

Large coral colonies you see are formed over hundreds and even thousands of years as polyp growth rates are extremely slow – up to 1cm per year.

When a polyp dies naturally a new polyp will form over the top. Repeated over many years, this process eventually results in the massive coral formations you will see today. As sea levels rise and fall over geological time the ‘active’ area of the reef changes over time. The white sandy beaches you see around these islands are produced by dead coral broken up over time in to smaller particles of calcium carbonate.

Coral garden - Top Pescador Island

Coral garden – Top Pescador Island

How Does Coral Feed?

Only a fraction of a coral’s food is from what is caught by the tentacles.

Coral’s main food source comes from a symbiotic relationship (mutually beneficial partnership) with photosynthesising algae collectively known as zooxanthellae.

The algae provides a coral with it’s colour. Without any algae, all shallow water coral would be white. The relationship between coral and algae is incredibly efficient, providing the following benefits:

Benefits to coral

Benefits to zooxanthellae

supplied with up to 90% of energy requirements as well as oxygen and aids with waste removal

safe environment to grow

provided with glucose, glycerol and amino acids for production of sugars, fats and most importantly calcium carbonate for reef construction

provided with compounds required for photosynthesis

Written by Henry Collister

Dive Instructor – Quo Vadis Dive resort

“The Best House Reef in Moalboal”

So many people that come into our dive center have some form of prejudice towards the notion of diving our “house reef,” but actually the house reef we have in front of our resort is one of my personal favourite dive sites in Moalboal. Those snorkelers and divers willing to experience it for themselves will generally agree. One of the biggest appeals it has is that a lot of the time it is just your group there creating a rather unique experience; truly a gem “hidden in plain view” as the expression goes.

Being guided out to the reef wall by mooring lines in the shallows, you end up reaching the drop off for our incredible reef. The reef itself is packed with some of the most beautiful, healthy hard corals and anemones the area has to offer. Though through descending deeper you can see a vast array of colorful soft coral, big barrel sponges and gorgonian sea fans that are potentially home to some very special creatures such as: hairy squat lobsters, ornate ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish, giant frogfish, painted frogfish, sexy squat shrimps, peacock mantis shrimp, candy crabs, orangutan crabs and so on…

Ornate Ghostpipefish

Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Sexy Squat Shrimp

Sexy Squat Shrimp

Blue-ringed Octopus

Blue-ringed Octopus

Orangutan Crab

Orangutan Crab

Hairy Squat Lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster

During the dive, you will likely be greeted by sea turtles which can be either green turtles or hawksbill turtles. Keep your eyes peeled as you’re surfacing or even if you’re already on the surface, during the day time when there is sargassum seaweed or coconut shells floating around, you might be able to spot the amazing sargassum frogfish looking for shelter near the surface.

To top it all off… As the sun sets over the horizon our house reef inhabits some of the famous mandarin fish that come and display the spectacle of their mating ritual for us, there really aren’t much better ways to start a night dive. Even blue-ringed octopus, and leafy scorpion fish tend to surprise us on night dives pretty regularly in addition to many other marine species that come alive after dusk.

So, let’s be rid of this negative connotation when you hear ‘house reef’… Quo Vadis House reef… Snorkel it, dive it, and be amazed!

 

Written by, Inge

Instructor and Dive Center Manager

Quo Vadis Dive Resort

Pictures: Inge Leys & Pernilla Sjöö

Divemaster Training is more fun at Quo Vadis Dive Resort!

You know you like diving. Every holiday you do involves at least a few days of diving if not every day in a new country you visit. As soon as you think about your next diving trip, you feel your eyes light up and you dream away about the things you still have on your marine creature list you haven’t seen yet.

You find yourself asking the Divemasters that take you diving how it is like to be a full time Divemaster working in and around the ocean every day. All of them answer exactly what you want to hear: ‘Best choice I ever made in life, you only live once and you should try and do in life what makes you happy.’

Guiding

If diving makes you happy, this can be your career change. Change your uniform or suit at your current job into a wetsuit. Take people diving and show them the treasures only you know where to find. Help other divers overcome their fear for certain things, and replace it with joy.

In Quo Vadis Dive resort we make your training not only one that you will learn a lot more from than expected from the PADI Divemaster Program, but we also make sure we adapt to your personal needs and see which areas need more work than others. It involves knowledge development lessons and diving workshops that prepare you to become a professional diver. After your training you will be able to look after certified divers, assist on courses and also know more about marine life and how to protect our oceans better in general.

Assisting on courses

The duration of the course is 3-5 weeks depending on your personal needs. We will help you with finding a room to stay for the time you are in training.

To be able to start you will also have to buy a PADI crew Pack for your studies which also includes your certification fee to PADI and the first year of being a PADI Pro member.

Check out the Quo Vadis website and see if you can picture yourself in Moalboal for your Divemaster Training. Also feel free to drop us an e-mail if you have any questions regarding your Divemaster program divecenter@quovadisresort.com

 

PROJECT AWARE Reef Clean Up: Making ‘White Beach’ clean again!

On 11th of October 2017, all buddy teams were set up and given bags to collect rubbish and our boat crew of the ‘Smiling Star’ lifted the mooring line and we headed towards White Beach, approximately a 10-minute boat ride away from our resort. We chose this site since a lot of people visit White Beach and unfortunately don’t take their rubbish away with them and so it ultimately ends up in the ocean.

Despite the main objective being to clear up as much rubbish as we could, there was ample time to enjoy the beautiful array of marine life. Being just past the full moon, we had a pleasant current allowing us to calmly drift along the reef. It was apparent on the dive that White Beach was in dire need of a clean, especially to preserve the flourishing corals housing some of people’s favorite creatures, such as pygmy sea horses and ornate ghost pipefish.

CK and Dee picking up trash

Every buddy team took a different maximum depth in order to increase our scope and efficiency on picking up the rubbish.

As we surfaced, we all realised everyone had done a brilliant job since there was not one empty bag. Even our boat crew managed to grab 3 bags of rubbish that was floating on the surface. Surprisingly enough, we found one of our favorite creatures hanging onto the floating rubbish: the famous Sargassum Frogfish!

White beach reef clean up

Sargassum Frogfish

Our second dive was a fun dive at Pescador Island, One of Moalboal’s most famous sites for its beautiful reef, caves and overhangs. As it is protected from fishing, this dive site is covered with schooling fish like Trevallies, Fuseliers and the adorable, colorful Anthiadinae.

Meanwhile the staff that only joined for the reef clean, returned to land and started the Project AWARE count of the rubbish, which weighed in at 55kgs! The most common items were plastic bags and food wrappers, but we also picked up some nappies and even bicycle and motorbike tyres. Sadly, the wind is not to blame for such items being in the sea…

PROJEVT AWARE garbage count

At the end of the day our winners were announced, with the heaviest bag going to Dindo Paquitbot. He managed to pick up 8kg of trash all on his own. Our other winner, Nils Toussaint, claimed the largest item with a bike tyre.

One thing we will all remember from this day, is that less plastic is better, because a lot of it does end up in the ocean. To help prevent it, bring your own reusable carry bag when shopping and choose your groceries wisely with minimal plastic wrapping as possible. Hopefully one day there will no longer be a need to do clean ups such as this.

Check out the website for Project AWARE below and see how you can make a difference! Merely signing one of their petitions is a significant contribution you can make in the comfort of your own home.

https://www.projectaware.org/

PROJECT AWARE Reef Clean up

On Wednesday the 11th of October 2017, Quo Vadis Dive Resort organized a Project AWARE reef clean- up consisting of staff and guests alike.

We had 9 guests and 9 members of staff from all over the world joining us: France, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, USA, Canada, Philippines, Spain, China and Denmark. As if all of us were representing their own country for the reef clean.

Everyone arrived at 8:15am to prepare and listen to the special reef clean briefing, which had to include a few extra things such as carrying extra weight, not dragging the rubbish bag over the reef, extra care to buoyancy and of course don’t take anything that has got life in or on it.

To try and make it more interesting and motivational, we turned the event into a small competition: Prizes were awarded to those who brought back the heaviest bag and the largest object.

On top of this all, for every diver that signed up Quo Vadis pledged to donate 950PHP to Project AWARE. All together we collected 8550PHP (150US $) for the day prior to the clean-up.

Pygmy seahorse Miniature syngnathids

Last few months we been Pygmy Lucky! We have start to see a lot of pygmy seahorses around Moalboal at Quo Vadis Dive Resort. So let’s take a closer look into the life of an pygmy seahorse.

Introduction

Pygmy seahorses are a group of seven species of miniature syngnathids (technical name for seahorses and pipefish)  They range in length from 1.4 – 2.7 cm between the tip of the tail to the end of the snout. So they are in the same size as your fingernail roughly, that is tiny!  

Distribution

They are found in the Coral Triangle region of southeast Asia but also all the way to southern parts of Japan and northern parts of Australia. The status of pygmy seahorses is classified as being ‘data deficient’ because very little is known about their habitat distribution and population trends.

Life cycle

The tiny size of the them makes it hard for them to live along. They attach to a host – gorgonian corals – and use this as a protection. They blend perfectly in by their colours which makes it very hard for predators to find them. Since they are very bad swimmers and can’t handle currents they use the fans as an anchor so they don’t get swept away.

Feeding

They don’t have a digestive system so they eat like all the time, non stop! The favorite food is tiny brine shrimps but other crustaceans are also on the menu. They are slow feeders though, in fact, most of their life is spent either resting or eating.

Photograph pygmy seahorses

If they are exposed for strong lights they can pass out and get swept away with the currents. Of course you don’t want this destiny to this tiny cuties. So make sure to turn off your strobes if you using any and use a focus torsh instead. 

By years of local experience Quo Vadis dive resort dive guides have learned to find out where some of the resident Pygmy Seahorse lives around here in moalboal. So if you are on the haunt for the Pygmy just let us know at Pernilla@quovadisresort.com Stay tuned up for part two “Five facts about Pygmy Seahorses.”

Photocredit to Chris, Pernilla Yannick & Sofie for letting us sharing this incredibly photos!

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Underwater Photography Tips for beginners

1. The first thing to get if you want to make beautiful underwater photographs is Good buoyancy. This you will gain by time underwater and by practicing your buoyancy skills. This is something all new divers should practice since it’s not only helping you to take good photos but also helps you to avoid hurt sensitive organism like corals. We offer the peak performance specialty here in Quo Vadis dive resort. MASTER your buoyancy before getting into the water with an camera. If you do, Lets Go!

2. Get close to the subject you want to take a photo of, remember water reduces color, contrast and sharpness. To get a good photo of a sea horse you need to stay still and get close, but not to close…

3. How would you feel if a big scary monster were following you with a giant camera and trying to get pictures? Not so good right? Underwater creatures should be relaxed when you snap a photo. Never chase or disturb the creature. If the marine creature tries to get away from you this is a clear sign, you are to close!

4.  For best composition – get your camera under the subject, shoot at an upwards angle, don’t center the subject, try to fill your frame with the subject. Never take the photo from above, this will not make the subject justice.

5. Dive with a private guide. Then you can spend as much time as you need taking photos on your favorite frogfish. Let your guide know what you find interesting and he will have more time on focusing on creatures that interest you.

6. Know your camera. Practice with your camera in the housing on land, then take it down in the water. This will help you to learn the settings and how to adjust the camera.

7. Know your settings. Set your camera to the highest resolution, and the lowest ISO. Use auto white-balance when using a flash/strobe, and custom white balance or underwater mode when not using a flash. Don’t use the digital zoom in the camera.

8. Do’t shoot photos with more than a meters distance. This is also called “shooting through too much water”

9. Read. There is plenty of information about your camera in the instruction manual and you can find a lot of good tips on YouTube and online.

10. Practice, practice and practice even more. It take a bit of time before you start to get satisfied. But the learning part is one of the most fun part as well. Enjoy it! You will see how your photos will improve over time. To compare a photo from the beginning to later on is always very satisfying.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What about corals?

As you duck beneath the surface, your senses triggers. To your right, a bright orange clown fish defending its anemone home while a moray eel retreats into its cave. As you float in the other direction, you spot giant sea fans coloring the underwater landscape and branching corals beckoning to you. You are scuba diving along one of the many coral reefs scattered throughout the equatorial seas, glimpsing the multitude of life that this largest of living structures supports.

Corals

Some of the corals on Quo Vadis Dive Resort s house reef

Your underwater view, however, might not be long lasting if we don’t take care of it better. Seventy percent of coral reefs may be gone in less than 40 years if the present rate of destruction continues. Coral reefs are made predominantly of stony corals and supported by the limestone skeleton they excrete. The rain forest of the sea are home to a quarter of all marine fish species. In addition to the variety of marine life they support, coral reefs are also immensely beneficial to humans, buffeting coastal regions from strong waves and storms, providing millions of people with food and jobs and prompting advances in modern medicine.

Soft corals on one of Moalboals wall dive

How are these incredible structures created? How can a single coral that is only 3 millimeters long (about the size of the word “is” on this page) become a reef that may stretch for miles and weigh hundreds of tons? In our next blog post you’ll learn how coral reefs form, what kind of life they harbor and why scientists say they may largely disappear in the coming century.

Corals overload

Dive the airplane in Moalboal

Some dive center call this dive site Airplane or Airport, we choose the name Umbrella for this particular dive site. If you take a look at the shore line before entering the water you might spot the reason behind the name of this dive site. It’s due to some very interesting rock formations which have a similar shape to that of an umbrella. 

The air plane wreck in all it's glory. Photo credit Tanakit YamMo Suwanyangyaun

The airplane wreck in all it’s glory. Photo credit Tanakit YamMo Suwanyangyaun

Around 22 meter below the surface you will find a propeller airplane on the sandy bottom, just before the wall drops down to 50 meters. It was donated from around 16 years ago to fill the purpose as a artificial reef and a pretty awesome dive site. They drove the airplane from Cebu city to Moalboal, it was to large to transport so they had to cut of the wings for the journey.

Air plane wreck

After a lot of hard work it was time for the ceremony to sink the plane to the bottom of the sea. But an unexpected problem occurred. The plane didn’t sink.  So they placed concrete in the wings before putting them back and if you take a look inside the plane you will find a few old diving tanks at the front used in order to weigh the plane down.

Our own Captain Sunny can tell you all about how he and several others helped to take the plane to its final resting place.

Dive description:

The dive site has a shallow, pretty reef starting at three meters reaching down to ten meters. The reef then transitions into a sandy slope that stretches all the way down to twenty-two meters. At this depth you can find a wall that creeps well beyond most divers certifications, though it still hosts a variety of marine life open to those of adequate qualification.

What to find?

If you want to find weird creatures and tiny critters this is one of our best sites. Here we can find: Ornate ghost pipe fish, Robust ghost pipe fish, garden eels, snake eels, nudibranch, shrimps, crabs, frog fish, devil- & bearded scorpion fish, sea moth and with luck, even weirder creatures! Once we even saw a whale shark cruising just above the airplane, but that was a very rare sighting.

peacock mantis shrimp

peacock mantis shrimp

How to enjoy this dive at the most?

If you don’t have it already we recommend you take your Nitrox licence in order to spend most of this dive at the deeper and more beautiful wall where you can look for the array of small critters.

Pegasus sea moth

Pegasus sea moth

To be able to properly enjoy the airplane you will need to take either your PADI Advanced Open Water or do a Deep Adventure dive, which you easily can do at Quo Vadis Dive Resort.

If you’re bringing a camera make sure to make a plan for both macro and wide angle pictures in addition to good buoyancy.

Entrance: Reached by a 20 minute boat ride in a northly direction from Quo Vadis Dive Resort. We enter via a giant stride entry from the bow of the boat.

Conditions: Dependent on the strength/direction of the wind, potentially flat to moderate waves. Medium to strong current depending on the tides.

Depth: 0 to 50 Meters.

Visibility:  approximately 10 to 25 Meters.