Category Archives: Facts about ocean

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

 

Dive Lo-ok, Moalboal

Lo-ok is a wall dive that contains some of the most pristine coral gardens in the area. So if you want to experience one of the best wall-dives in Moalboal you should request this site on your next diving vacation with Quo Vadis dive resort. If you stay shallow on this dive you will be rewarded with some of the healthiest reefs in this area. Trust me it’s like being a star in the movie Finding Nemo and who wouldn’t love to experienced that?

The beautiful coral garden of Lo-ok, Moalboal

The beautiful coral garden of Lo-ok, Moalboal

Witness thousands of small colourful reef fishes dancing around the corals. Here you will set your eyes on a variety of blennies, gobies, clownfishes and damsels. It’s just incredible to stay and watch the movement, shapes and colours of the reef. We often spot turtles resting among the corals, just waiting for you to have a closer look or to take a nice, close photo.

Turtle, Moalboal

The deeper part on this wall is filled with soft- and hard corals and together with healthy gorgonian sea-fans they are create a colour explosion. Take a closer look and you might get lucky to find a few gorgeous nudibranchs and why not an ugly frogfish? Sometimes we find batfish and trevallies strolling around in the deep. Some small critters also pay our dives a visit like ornate ghost pipefish and different species of crabs and shrimps.

Nudibranch, Moalboal

If times and budget allows, try to do two dives at Lo-ok, one to do the shallow  part and one for a deeper visit and when doing  the deeper part ask for nitrox if you are a nitrox diver or why not do the 1 day nitrox course since this maximise your bottom time at the deep part.

Lo-ok, Moalboal

Reached by a 15 min boat ride north direction from Quo Vadis dive Resort.

Conditions: Depending on the wind. Usually flat ocean with a mild current

Depth: 0 to 50 Meters

Visibility: 15 to 30 Meters

Green Turtles

The green turtle “Chelonia mydas” is the only species in the family of Chelonia. They are found trough subtropical and tropical waters around the world. The name itself comes from the green fat that are found underneath their shell. It’s one of the most famous creatures in Philippines and you can find them napping, eating or swimming just offshore Quo Vadis Dive Resort.

Turtle

Did you know…

  • The Green turtle can reach a weight up to 300 kilogram.
  • They can become up to 80 years old.
  • Female turtles crawls up on the very beach they were born on, to dig their nest. It’s still unknown how they find back to their birthplace.
  • They will put down an impressive amount of 100 – 200 eggs and two months later the eggs will hatch and the five cm new-born turtles will crawl against the big blue to start their journey.
  • Even if they look like a very slow-moving creature they can reach a maximum speed of 56 km/h!
  • They can hold their breath from 4 – 7 hours
  • Its two divided groups of the green turtle. The pacific green turtle is more black in the colour and the Atlantic has a more green colour.

Green turtle

Do you want to witness this beautiful creatures with you own eyes? Contact pieter@quovadisresort.com or look into our web page www.quovadisresort.com and we will make sure you can meet this fellow in it’s natural habitat.

Turtle

Yawning frogfish

Facts about frogfish

Frogfish (Antennariidae) is a part of the anglerfish family (Lophiiformes) and you can find a big variety of 45 different spices. They are found around the coast of Africa, Asia, Australia and North America. Normal habitats are at reefs all the way down to the depth of 100 meters. Even though the increasing habitat destruction and pollution, wild population of frogfish are still large and healthy. The shape, colours and abilities that frogfishes has fascinated since I saw it for the first time.

Frogfish hiding at Quo Vadis Dive Resort Housereeef

Crazy facts about frogfish

  • The frogfish has a modified dorsal fin that looks like a worm or a shrimp that they use for hunting.
  •  When the fish is close enough the frogfish opens the mouth so fast that it creates a suction and the poor little fish is drawn into the teeth lees mouth in one bite. This is the fastest suction among fishes.
  • They can swallow preys that is 2 times bigger than the fish itself thanks to the ability to expand their mouth 12 times of its normal size.
  • The frogfish doesn’t have a swim bladder. Therefore the frog feet’s are mostly just for walking around when they move.
  •  The colour of the body depends on the habitat. Frogfishes can be any colours and in very weird colours combinations. It’s able to quickly change colour to blend into the environment.
  •  They do have a social life with each other. Then the smaller frogfishes risking to become lunch for the bigger ones.
  • In wild the frogfish can reach an age of 20 years.

The frogfish is one of the reasons divers from all over the world they come to Philippines. At Quo Vadis Dive Resort we can find this little critters at most of our dive sites. They camouflage themselves really good trough choosing spots that is similar as them self. Our dive guides will do everything they can to find this special spots where this ugly & amazing creature hides.

 

Warty Yellow Frogfish

Frogfish at the Sardine Run

Giant Frogfish at Pescadoor island

The Sardine Run in Moalboal

moalboal sardine run

A diver slowly swimming into the hurricane of small sardines. Picture by Ruffy Biazon

I’m sure you heard about the sardine run in South Africa, where you can watch a massive, migrating bait ball during a short period of the year, usually between June and July. But did you know that you can witness the exact same phenomenon in Moalboal, Philippines all year around? Here you can watch the millions of sardines congregate together in tropical water with a spectacular wall as a backdrop, just a few meters offshore.

The sardine run is the main attraction for Quo Vadis Dive resorts divers and it’s not hard to understand why. 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.

moalboal-sardine-rund-11

Picture by Ruffy Biazon

The traffic is heavy down here, but it’s a sort of traffic you wouldn’t mind and it’s perfectly organized. The clouds of sardines are effortless coordinated, creating alien formations and moving together in perfection. See them shiver when they catch the rays of the sun, hear them move when the trevally’s dart in for a bite. I promise you, it will keep you hypnotized for the better part of your tank. As with anything with nature nothing is guaranteed, the school have been smaller than usually a few days but that is really out of the ordinary.

moalboal sardine run

This should be on every divers bucket list. Divers and underwater photographer are coming from all corners of the world to witness the underwater tornado of sardines. Due to the location and the fact that the big ball of sardines is to be found at only 5-15 meters of depth it’s also perfect for snorkelers. But for a truly mind blowing experience you have to dive below them, to watch them cover the sun for a few moments before your bubbles will separate the silhouettes above, letting the sun in. It’s also possible to do a dive starting with the sardines and then continue all the way to Quo Vadis House reef to get the best out of two worlds.

moalboal sardine run

You can often see some of predators hunting for the sardines, making the experience even better.

No one really knows what causes the sardines to act this way, it is poorly understood in an ecological point of view. The sardines migrated a few years back from Pescador Island to the shore alongside Panagsama. The sardine run pulls a lot of tourists and the locals understand the positive effect of this, so no net fishing is allowed in Moalboal. Only the local fishermen are allowed to use their small wooden boats to go out and fish with hooks and lines to catch enough of sardines for their family or to sell at the local market.

moalboal sardine run

Picture by Ruffy Biazon

moalboal sardine run

A turtle gently gliding past under the sardines. Picture by Ruffy Biazon

moalboal sardine run

Picture by Ruffy Biazon

Contact Pieter@quovadisresort.com or go into http://www.quovadisresort.com for more information or to book the dive of your life time.

Who can change the world?

An ocean of plasticGreenpeace? Sea Shepard? PADI Project Aware? Oceana? Ocean Defender? You? Me? Even the smallest action can do a great impact on our future. That is, if we do it together. 

Did you know that 9.1 million tons of plastic will end up in the ocean every year? And that all this plastic contributes to habitat destruction which entangles and kills tens of thousands of marine animals each year? It´s estimated that in 2025 it will rise up to 150 million metric tons. I cannot even grasp that number.

Here are a few things you can do to help:

Support the organisation that fights for the future of the oceans
All people behind the organisations mentioned above are true heroes. Its people like you, like me who got tired of us destroying our planet and decided to take action. We can talk about their actions, we can like it, share it, spread it encourage and join them, but don’t forget to volunteer, to help out and also consider to give financial support. Find your local organisation and ask them how you can help.

Reduce your plastic usage
To limit your impact, carry a reusable water bottle, store food in non-disposable containers, bring your own bag when shopping, and recycle whenever possible. And never forget: everything we through away will eventually end up in the ocean. Plastic dissolves in the water and will then wander from the smallest creature to the ocean giants and yes it will end up in the food we eat as well.

10-things-you-can-do-2013

Clean up after yourself and others
Imaging if every human would spend 5 minutes per day to pick up garbage and recycle. We are approximately 7.4 billion people, now multiple that by five and we would have 37 billion minutes every day of erasing all the trash in our world. That is what I call a big change for the better, right?

Never stop fighting. Wherever we are we can always clean the nature and spread the green message. Soon Quo Vadis Dive Resort will arrange a beach clean-up here in Moalboal and if you happen to be around you are more than welcome to join. More information will follow, stay tuned!

/Charlie and Caroline

 

 

5 awesome facts about the seahorse

1. Did you know that the Latin family name of the sea horse, hippocampus, translates to horse seamonster? They sure don’t look very scary to me. Their size are ranging from tiny 1.5 cm up to 35 cm. 2.

2. They don’t have any stomach and because of the missing stomach these horses needs to eat all the time. To be exact they need to find at least 3000 tiny shrimps every day or they would die of starvation.

3. The male seahorse really takes his daddy role very serious. In this relationship the male are the one to carry all eggs in his pouch. Of all the eggs only one of thousand survives to an adult size. Some studies shows that they are extremely faithful to each other. Once they find a sea horse partner in their taste they stick with each other for the rest of their life. How romantic!

4. To great exercise can kill this little creatures so mostly they are sitting on the same coral relaxing and eating. Except to gain too much weight the only thing this guys need to worry about is the hungry crabs. If the dwarf sea horse needs to run from the crab he faces a problem, since his horse powers only can create a top speed of 1.5 meter per hour…

5. The seahorse are endangered by over fishing and habitat destruction. The Chinese medicine market has a huge responsibility since they convinced the chines people that seahorses cure impotence, wheezing and pain. Which has non-scientific proof. 20 million seahorses are estimated to been taken from the sea by this reason every year.

The fishing of the endangered seahorse has been controlled by CITES since 2004. CITES is a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Sadly enough Norway, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia didn’t sign the law. Support CITES and other ocean fighters that supports our ocean with knowledge among the local people.

Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse at the divesite Umbrella