Author Archives: Caroline Sandstedt

About Caroline Sandstedt

Dive Center Manager at Quo Vadis Dive Resort in Moalboal and a full blown lover of the underwater world and also a dedicated PADI Intructor.

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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.

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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.

Quo Vadis Dive Resort

After rain comes... Rainbow!

After rain comes… Rainbow!

Sleep in, go up early, relax, dive, laugh, make new friends, learn something about the ocean you didn’t know before and feel like a part of our Quo Vadis Family.

Quo vadis garden

We have the ocean just in front, and the ocean, that’s what makes our hearts beat. You can dip your toes in the salty water only a few minutes after you checked in. Rent snorkel equipment and go out in the blue, swim out to the edge of the reef and watch the turtles waking up in the morning. The reef is patched in colors beyond imagination and covered in fish to pretty to eat. You don’t know how to dive or you want to advance your dive knowledge? No problem, we’ll teach you! Walk into the dive center an early morning for a chat with our friendly staff, they will help you with everything from arranging your diving to answer questions about, how to best go to Kawasan falls or what’s the most tasty local food.

Our lovley group, Never Dry from Thailand knows how to relax with friends.

Our lovley group, Never Dry from Thailand knows how to relax with friends.

pool barEnjoy our pool a warm day and don’t hesitate to use the pool bar to order an ice cold mango shake. Relax in the lush garden surrounded by tropical trees and flowers, get a massage in the shade. Lay down in our hammocks and watch the sea between the pages in that book you never had time to read when you were home. Eat. A lot. It’s okay you are on vacation. Try the Filipino kitchen from our restaurant menu or dig in on our international dishes. Grab a beer with new friends after your dive in our sea view bar. Book a trip to watch the mighty but soft giants in Oslob, one of few places where you can watch whale sharks on a daily basis. Watch them gracefully move past you as you lose your breath watching them.

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Swim with millions of sardines, buddy up with a turtle, watch the tiny pregnant pygmy sea horse, dive into the deep of the cathedral, watch the mandarin fish do their mating dance when the sun goes down and witness the pulsating electric clams. Just to mention a few things.

Watch the most magical sunset from Quo Vadis Dive Resort. The sun goes down over Negros island, coloring the sky with powder soft colors of pink, red and orange. Feel good, feel the calm and feel the nature.  We are looking forward to you staying with us!

sunset yoga

Cool facts about the Nudibranch

Being part of the rich Coral Triangle is what makes the Philippines an excellent, world-class diving destination. Philippines is famous for its never ending variety of the little beautiful nudibranch. Working for Quo Vadis Dive Resort we see these wonders of the ocean every day.

Did you know…

  • Nudibranchs, once like snails lost their shells over countless years of evolution. Today you can find many different chemical defenses among them; some can store cells within their body capable of stinging. Others can secrete acid which they release when danger presents itself. Though there is currently only one known species of nudibranch that can be harmful to humans as it eats the infamous “Portuguese man-of-war” jellyfish.

    Nudibranch

    Chromodoris annea. Photo Credit: Yannick Van Meirhaege. Moalboal

  • Nudibranchs are commonly referred to as sea slugs. Although this is true, not all sea slugs are nudibranchs.
  • Nudibranchs obtain their stunning colors as a result of the colorful food they eat. Due to each species being extremely picky eaters they will generally only consume one type of food leading to a plethora of color variations over the 3000+ species.
  • Some nudibranchs such as the “blue dragon” are capable of creating their own food through photosynthesis.
  • Following the Darwinian principle of natural selection or “survival of the fittest” some nudibranchs are known to be cannibalistic, generally eating the smaller of its species.

    Chromodoris Willani

    Chromodoris Willani. Moalboal

  • Generally they have very short life spans. Some may live up to a year, other merely a few weeks.
  • Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites meaning they are both male and female simultaneously, possessing sexual organs of each gender.

If you want to take a closer look at nudibranchs check out our Instagram @Quovadisdiveresort.

Nudibranch

Photo credit Yannick Van Meirhaghe. Phyllidia Ocellata. Moalboal

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Nudibranch the tiny wonder snail

The word “Nudibranch” is derived from the Latin “nudus” meaning naked and “branchial” meaning gills. The gills are located in the centre of the back of a nudibranch, looking like a very pretty flower. In the front of body you can find two club shaped rhinophores that detect odours.

Nudibranchs are favourites among many divers due to their sheer variety of shapes and colours. As well, anyone can spot an enormous school of sardines yet a keen eye is required to spot these tiny creatures, thus creating a welcome challenge to the avid diver!

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Where are they found?

There are well over 3,000 species of nudibranchs which can generally be found in the shallows, however, some species have be known to be found at impressive depths of 2,500m.

They can be found in tropical waters and freezing waters alike, such as in the Antarctic. Though why freeze when you can find them in the warm waters here in the Philippines, which is one of the countries with the most diversity of the nudibranchs in the world? If merely reading about them is not enough then you should book your next holiday with Quo Vadis Dive Resort and we will make your dreams happen!

Stay tuned for part two cool facts about nudibranch!

If you can’t wait check out Quo Vadis Dive Resort’s Instagram for more pictures.

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10 Top attraction Moalboal

  1.  Diving
    The most popular Moalboal attractions are all under water. Being part of the rich Coral Triangle is what makes the Philippines an excellent, world-class diving destination. With a great variety of underwater scenery and fish species you rarely find elsewhere. Most diving around Moalboal is drop-off diving with a mild current. The sea is deep and the mild current ensures a flow of fresh and nutritious water that makes the corals to flourish. The corals is a wonderful mix of lobed pore-, brain-, soft,- funnel-, table-, tube-, whip-, mushroom-, bubble-, maze-, staghorn- and green cup corals, just to mention a few. The reef is in excellent condition surrounded by a lot of colourful fishes. We call it our turtle paradise and it’s not rare you see more turtles on one dive than fingers on your hand. Here you can set your eyes on many mysterious creatures like giant frog fish, leaf scorpion fish, clown trigger fish, ornate ghost pipe fish, sea moths, leaf- and devil scorpion fish and many more. Look into our web page for more information. 
    Coral reef Moalboal
  2.  The Sardine run
    This is the major reason that ten thousands of divers, snorkelers and free diver are making their pilgrims journey to Moalboal every year. Here you can watch millions of sardines congregate together in tropical water with a spectacular wall as a backdrop, just a few meters offshore and the best thing is, you can witness this phenomenon all year around! To dive into the never-ending school of small, dancing silvery fish and let them immerse you is a breath-taking experience even for the most well-travelled diver.
    Sardine run Moalboal
  3. Oslob Whale shark watching
    Quo Vadis offers package trips to Oslob for divers (minimun 3 people,)  Oslob is located only 1.5 hour drive from our resort in Pangasama. It’s 99% guaranteed to see these magnificent giants when you are snorkelling or diving and most of the times you will see more than a few. Whale shark watching in Cebu started last September 2011 and it became popular all over the world when the news hit in the internet last November 2011. By December 2011, local fishermen’s interact with the whale sharks by feeding them and large numbers of tourists began arriving in Oslob not just to see the whale sharks being fed but also to snorkel or dive with them. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean. The typical whale shark size is 4-12 meters. Oslob is home to schools of these amazing creatures and they can be seen by divers and non-divers, swimmers and non-swimmers, the old and the young alike.Oslob Whale shark watching
  4. Pescador Island
    Pescador island suits everyone. Diving, snorkeling, free diving or just to sit on the boat to witness the pretty little island and its clear water. But underwater, that’s where the fun begins. The wall is going down to 50 meters and is filled with spectacular crevasses, over hangs and caves. The sloping wall is dressed in big hard corals where you often can see schools of inquisitive violet fusiliers and many other reef fishes. Here you can set your eyes on many mysterious creatures like giant frog fish, leaf scorpion fish, clown trigger fish, sea moths, leaf scorpion fish and many more. Don’t forget to look out in the blue and you can see small schools of sardines, butterfly fish, jack fish, mackerel and red tooth trigger fish.pescador island Moalboal
  5. Canyoneering
    You can make canyoneering at a few different waterfalls from beautiful Kawasan Falls being a fun adventure for everyone to a bit more challenging Tison Falls being a more challenging experience. Canyoneering involves travelling down creeks or streams within a canyon by a variety of means including walking, jumping, swimming, climbing and abseiling (Tison falls). Suitable for anyone looking for a wet, fun and active full day in pristine condition.
    kanyoing Kawasan falls
  6. Mantayupan falls
    It is the main natural attraction in Barili. With its 98 meters it is also one of Cebu’s tallest waterfalls. Mantayupan Falls, also known by the locals as Ambakan Falls, has two levels. The first level are three waterfalls with the height of 14 meters and the second level is a waterfall which is 98 meters high. Being a little bit further away from Moalboal (50 min by car or bike) it’s not as touristy as Kawasan falls and if you go there on a weekday you can be all alone with this pretty view.
    mayanuppan falls
  7. Osmania Peak
    the highest mountain in Cebu that is a favourite among hikers for its picturesque view of the countryside. Most known as O’ Peak, it offers a breath-taking view of the sunrise, sunset and the white coastline hugging the coral blue sea and jagged hills with lush grass and patches of flowers. Osmena Peak rises 1,013 meters above sea level and is nestled between the southern towns of Dalaguete and Badian. Its about an 2 hour drive up the mountins from Moalboal, but the road leading to the top is an adventure itself, seeing the  flora and fauna change.

    Osmania Peak is the highest point of Cebu

    Osmania Peak is the highest point of Cebu

  8. Kawasan Falls
    Only a 30 minute drive, located 17 km south of Moalboal, Kawasan Falls comprise a series of three waterfalls; the largest cascades 20m into a massive, crystal blue swimming hole. The second and third waterfalls are more peaceful, and you can even scramble beyond these to more secluded spots. This is a beautiful sight and makes beautiful photos. If possible try to avoid weekends when it tends to be very busy.
    kawasan falls Moalboal
  9. Lambug beach
    Lambuk beach located a 40 minutes South of Moalboal is still somewhat a secret unknown to many. It’s a 30-40 minute drive from Panagsama, but it’s worth it, the sand here is whiter than White beach and weekdays you can almost find yourself alone here. There is some really nice corals where the sand slopes down in the water so bring a mask and snorkel!
    lambug beach
  10. White beach
    Located 6 km North or a 20 min drive from the dive centre white beach is a popular beach among tourist and locals. On the weekends small eateries and seats can be hired. Sometimes you can see turtles just offshore and the corals here a bit farther out are pristine.

    White beach

 

 

Cathedral at Pescador Island

PADI Deep diving course

The lure of the deep. There’s something exciting and mysterious about exploring deeper dive sites while scuba diving. Sometimes it’s a wreck that attracts you below 18 metres/60 feet or on a wall dive it may be a giant fan or sponges. Whatever it is, to scuba dive with confidence at depths down to 40 metres/130 feet, you should take the PADI Deep Diver Specialty course.

If you’ve earned the PADI Adventure Diver rating or higher, and you’re at least 15 years old, you can enroll in the Deep Diver course.

Knowledge development; Independently study manual and a movie; Answer knowledge review in PADI Deep Diver book. Your training starts by reviewing reasons for deep diving and how important it is to know your personal limits.

The course is scheduled during two days with four dives in total.

  • Two dives to – 30 meters
  • Two dives to – 40 Meters

During four deep dives with your instructor, you’ll go over:

  • Specialized deep diving equipment.
  • Deep dive planning, buddy contact procedures and buoyancy control.
  • Managing your gas supply, dealing with gas narcosis and safety considerations.

If you want to explore places where less divers been the PADI Deep diving course is something for you. Wanna know more about this course contact Quo Vadis Dive Resort. 

Price list (Php)

 

An interview with Anna Oposa: Chief Mermaid of Save Philippine Seas

Who is Anna Oposa? As stated in her website’s biography:

“Anna R. Oposa is a multi-hyphenate changemaker, being a writer, speaker, and project manager, though she is best known as the co-founder and “Chief Mermaid” of “Save Philippine Seas (SPS)”. SPS is a movement to protect the country’s coastal and marine resources through information, communication, and education campaigns and community-based projects.”

anna Oposa

We were fortunate enough to meet Anna Oposa when she came to dive with us at Quo Vadis Dive Resort, here in Moalboal. She is a momentous inspiration to us all with her resolute devotion to ocean conservation. Through creating a website/petition (savephilippineseas.org) in an attempt to raise awareness of the atrocities occurring to the environment due to ignorance and negligence, it was not long before it turned into a movement as a result of being fueled by members sharing equal passion. With such drive it is unsurprising what she has achieved, playing a key part in getting the thresher shark listed as a protected species in the CITES convention which took place in October 2016.  In addition, through educating children and adults alike in the long term effects their direct actions cause and suggesting alternatives so that a harmonious relationship with nature may one day become a reality.

As divers we too share in Anna’s love of the ocean and is something we aim to convey to whomever may walk into our centre. Through a collective understanding and respect towards nature in general it’s almost unfathomable what together we can accomplish in terms of preservation and even growth!

Anna and Quo Vadis Vice president Pernilla Sjöö on one of our boat trip to Pescador Island.

Anna and Quo Vadis Vice president Pernilla Sjöö on one of our boat trip to Pescador Island.

 

Here is what Anna Oposa had to say in response to the questions we asked:

May you explain a little what your company is about?

“Save Philippine Seas (SPS) started in 2011 in response to an illegal wildlife trade case called the ‘Rape of the Philippine Seas,’ in which tons of protected species such as turtles and corals were seized. A handful of people who did not know each other, but met online because of this issue, decided to start a social media campaign called SPS. I was the youngest one in the group, just fresh out of college – only graduating a month before. When the issue died down, I continued with the advocacy, but first as a passion project. In 2013, we decided to register it as an NGO out of necessity—we were getting more and more donations and sponsorships and needed to be a legal entity.

This year, we celebrated our 5th anniversary. Half a decade! I still can’t believe it sometimes. We have two major projects, Shark Shelter, which is based in Daanbantayan, Cebu, to conserve and protect the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary; and the Sea and Earth Advocates Camp, which is an environmental education and leadership program for Filipino youth in partnership with the U.S. government and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.”

 

What motivates you?

There are many motivations, and it depends on the situation that I’m in. Sometimes, I am motivated because I am angry that the people who are supposed to be doing their job to protect our seas are not doing it. Other times, I’m motivated because I’m inspired by the people I work with, or the progress that we’re making.

My constant motivation is this: marine conservation makes sense for an archipelago with the richest marine life in the world, where millions of people depend on the sea for their livelihood and food. We take care of our sea, it takes care of us.

 

What is your favourite sea creature and why this specific one?

Oooh… For sentimental reasons, of course the thresher shark is the love of my life because I have spent so much blood, sweat, and tears trying to conserve them and elevate their status in the Philippines. They are beautiful, graceful creatures.

I also really, really love seeing soft corals. It feels like I’m in an underwater meadow.

Anna and her friend the Thresher shark

Anna and her friend the Thresher shark

 

What can we do to help save the Philippine seas?

Step one is understanding how our daily choices are connected to the Philippine seas. That shampoo sachet and straw you’re using could end up in the sea. The sunblock you’re using could contribute to coral bleaching. By being able to connect that, you’re able to change your daily lifestyle choices, specifically reducing use of plastic or buying more eco-friendly personal care products.

 

Who or what is your source of inspiration?

I never run out of inspiration. There are so many people I look up to in this field, and I’m lucky that I not only get to work with them but call them some of my closest friends. When the going gets tough, it is so important to have your core group of friends to give you advice and encourage you to keep going. I am also constantly inspired by the communities and youth we’ve trained the last five years, and how they’ve grown and taken on so much.

 

Where do you see yourself and your company in 5 years?

This is an extremely difficult question that I don’t know the answer to. Haha! You see, five years ago, I would have never imagined myself running an NGO called Save Philippine Seas, raising funds to implement projects, and speaking front of hundreds of people and government officials to advocate for the protection of our seas. And yet here I am.

I don’t know where SPS will be in five years. I don’t even know if I’ll still be part of SPS in five years. I hope someone from the SEA Camp network becomes the next Executive Director of Save Philippine Seas. It would be such a big success indicator if someone we trained took over. I also dream about a sustainable funding source for SPS and to continue our two projects, just in a bigger scale and scope.

 

What is/are your goal(s)?

I have many, and my dreams for myself are all tied to my dreams for the Philippines. I want every single Filipino to love and care for the Philippine seas. I want the shark sanctuary we established in Daanbantayan to be a model for community-based eco-tourism. I want marine conservation to be part of the national curriculum. These are big dreams, I know, and they’re probably not going to be accomplished in my lifetime. But I’m sure going to die trying.

 

What is the proudest moment you feel you’ve achieved with your organization?

I am most proud that SPS serves as an enabling environment for empowerment to many people, especially young people. When I see the people we’ve worked with gain more interest and passion for this advocacy, and start initiatives of their own, I feel like such a stage mom! My job as the Chief Mermaid is to make sure the people we work with become better than me, and I’m sure they will be in no time J

Chief Mermaid and Little Mermaid soon to dive into the waters surrounding Pescador Island

Chief Mermaid and Little Mermaid soon to dive into the waters surrounding Pescador Island