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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

“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

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.

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

Pescador island

Pescador Island is a small uninhabited island set in the Tanon Strait. The whole island above and below water is riddled with caverns and caves providing homes and cover for a wide variety of creatures like lion fish, octopus, sweet lips and moray eels. Spear fishing and all other illegal fishing methods are prohibited, so the inhabitants below and above water have some peace. The shelf, surrounding the island, 5 to 20 meters wide, can be seen from a boat and on calm days the scene is tantalizing.

Turtle

A sea turtle slowly passing

In the blue water surrounding Pescador you can sometimes spot turtles, trevally, small barracudas, mackerel and tuna that sometimes dart in like rockets to get some dinner, this is a very impressive sight!  Pescador Island translate to Fishermen Island. The reason behind is due to the massive sardine school that before were surrounding the Island and all the small fishing boats they attracted. A couple of years ago a typhoon hit the island and the sardines decided to move and today you can find them at Panagsama reef. Pescador is only one island but offers three very different dive sites

Entrance: Reached by a 15 min boat ride in a south-westerly direction. Boat entry.
Conditions: Depending on the wind, flat to strong waves. Often a medium to strong current in a south-north direction.
Depth: 0 to 50 Meters
Visibility: 15 to 40 Meters

Pescador Cathedral

Cathedral at Pescador Island

Cathedral at Pescador Island

The largest cave is “The Cathedral and starts at 18 meters and goes down to 40 meters. The scenery is breathtaking. There is a buttress at the top of the cave creating the impression of a church spire. Inside the cave we can spot nudibranchs, lion fish and sometimes scorpion fish. After the Cathedral the wall is not as colourful as the east and west side but its full of inverted walls and smaller caves to check out, where we can spot octopus and moray eels hiding in their holes.The wall contains scorpionfish, banded seakrait, sweetlips and you can also spot a frogfish or two hiding around the sponge corals.

Pescador East

jawning frogfish

A yawning frogfish is showing his good side

Pescador East is just as beautiful dive site as the west side but very different. The wall dropping to 50 meters, and the sloping wall is dressed in big hard corals, here you can often see schools of inquisitive violet fusiliers and many other colourful reef fishes. You will start the dive at the south end where the famous coral garden is located. The dive will continue north and here we can see camouflaged giant frogfish pressing against a sponge coral. If you are even luckier you can catch them yawning. Devil-, leaf & bearded scorpionfish are also found at the wall. You can also find a lot of other life like sea moths, clown trigger fish, reef octopus, nudibranches and lots more. Don’t forget to take a look out in the blue and you might spot schools of big eye trevally’s, sardines, butterfly fish and red tooth triggerfish.

Pescador West 

sof corals

Beautiful soft corals decorating the wall at the west side of Pescador Island

When you do Pescador west, you will jump at the south coral garden and after that you will continue north direction with the reef on your right side. At 15 meters and deeper you find colonies of soft corals in all different colours on the steep wall and if you shallow up you can see large hard corals, surrounded by reef dwellers attract an incredible variety of marine life. The wall is filled with spectacular crevasses, over hangs and caves, inside them we can find sweetlips and groupers. Quite simply it is a paradise for divers. You can set your eyes on creatures like frog fish, clown trigger fish, stone fish, devil scorpion fish and a different nudibranchs and in the end of the dive you might get a glimpse of the cathedral.

Dive Clean Up 11th of October 2016 – Moalboal

project-aware-debris-scuba-divingQuo Vadis Dive Resort is arranging a dive clean-up in Moalboal, White Beach the 11th of October.

There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of all that mass 269,000 billion tons are floating on the surface while other sinks deeper down. Depressing right?

The good thing is that there is hope. Fishing vessels gets converted to floating recycling factories collecting a lot of man made debris from our ocean. More and more money get dedicated to the plastic problems and slowly we are finding a solution of this dirty problem.

Here is the schedule for our clean-up.

  • Meet up at Quo Vadis Dive centre: 9.00
  • The boat with leave at 09:30
  • Cost: Pay what you want, all money goes to Project Aware.
  • First dive: Panagsama reef, where you can witness one of the biggest schools of sardines in the world.
  • Second dive: White beach.
  • After our last dive we go to White beach for lunch at around 13.00.
  • Join us at the Garbage station to weight your garbage to join our trash competition.
  • After enjoying white beach with volleyball and cold beverage the boat leaves at 15.30 back to Quo Vadis Dive centre.
  • On the boat we will announce the winner of the Trash competition. If anyone want to make a night dive this is possible just let us know before you leave the boat

I know a lot of you who instantly would pick up piece of plastic coming your way during a dive. Divers and snorkelers are cleaning up the ocean floor all over the world as we are enjoying our activities. Together we can choose to speak for the ocean and the creatures living within and that way raise a awareness for the ocean. Together we as divers has even manage to get international protection laws of rays and sharks and together we have collected thousands of kilos of trash from our ocean. Together we did this, how incredible is that? This shows that what we do matters!

On this event we can not clean up the whole earth but we will clean up our local dive sites and its where everything begins.

 

Meet Caroline

13445776_10154314896642430_3164609797173540346_nMy name is Caroline Sandstedt and I will also be blogging here together with Charlie, so I want to give you a chance to get to know me a little. So who am I? I’m the girl who got addicted to scuba diving, I’m always the one with the loudest laugh and the largest suit case. I grew up in Sweden but since I have been old enough to travel I have not stayed put since. I have tried a lot of different jobs in my 26 years; I’ve been working as a waitress, barista, copywriter, art hostess, nanny, telemarketer and saleswomen. But it turned out all I ever wanted to do was to work with scuba diving.

I started diving 11 years ago but it took a little bit longer for me to fall in love with this world and lifestyle. When I was 22 I travelled to Thailand and there the underwater beauty got to me and I quickly worked my way up from Open Water diver to Advanced Open Water then to Rescue Diver and then I was stuck. Like really, really stuck. Have you ever heard about the dive virus? Whatever it is, I caught it and now I work as an instructor and dive center manager at Quo Vadis Dive Resort and my life is complete. 11264860_10153376111792430_4036510932369688699_n

I always tell my friends: if you want to be really good at something you have to truly love what you do. And I live as I learn. Going from an office job in Sweden to practice my passion in the warm tropics was a life changer and a life saver.

I’m in love with the ocean and being an Dive Instructor was the most obvious choice, giving me the chance to spend countless hours in the place I love the most, teaching people how to enjoy the colourful life under water and to show them how to take care of it so we can enjoy it’s magnificent beauty in the future.13510961_10154314891402430_40901198977813199_n

So if you want to learn how to dive and if you want to be inspired, I’m definitely up for the task. Make you holiday stand out and I can promise you an experience you will always remember. I’m hoping to see you underwater soon!

Ronda

When you need a break from exploring the reefs arounds Panagsama and Pescador island, take a tricycle or rent a bike and continue a bit to the north of Moalboal and you’ll find the town of Ronda. Though Moalboal and the diving is the main attraction for people traveling down to this part of Cebu, there are really some nice spots to visit in the towns and villages in the area. Ronda Harbour is one of these places. There’s a boardwalk that’s a bit half-finished (like a lot of places on the island, that’s what gives it it’s rough charm) and a small restaurant at the end. The perfect setting for a cooling drink while the sun sets over the Negros mountains.

Too Large for the Lens

Until yesterday, the largest aquatic animal I’ve seen must have been a sea turtle here in Moalboal (at least what I’ve seen under water, from the diveboat I’ve seen both shark and dolphins). At probably around one and a half meter, I thought that turtle was quite big. That was until I met the gentle giants in Donsol.

We set out from the dive shop at 5.30 in the morning, all still a bit sleepy but very excited about the day. After about two hours on the bumpy but very scenic road south we arrived in Oslob just as the whale sharks were coming in for their morning snack. You can choose to either dive or snorkel with the sharks, and to be honest I didn’t really miss my Scuba gear. They stay quite shallow all the time so you can see them really well from the surface, but maybe I’ll try diving next time just to get to see them from a different angle.

Small paddle boats take you out to the sharks, and we were all amazed to discover how big these fish actually are. They come up to the surface to eat the krill thrown in by the boatmen, open their mouths and the ocean rushes down in a rapid maelstrom. We slipped into the water quietly so not to disturb them, and got to see the entire animals under water. They are big, about six or seven metres long, and still these are only juveniles, the adult whale shark can get up to 18 metres. I tried to take some pictures but since visibility that day was rather low, I had to get close and had trouble fitting the shark within the viewfinder. A fish-eye lens would have been really useful.

We stayed in the water for about an hour (although it felt like 20 minutes), before we were paddled back to shore. It was a great experience, and after all the discussions we’ve had around the dive shop regarding the whale sharks, it felt good to have seen it firsthand. Fish feeding is of course not natural, and it’s difficult to tell what the long-term consequences for the whale sharks are. Feeding them could potentially disturb their migrating and mating patterns, and when the sharks associate food with boats, they can be harmed by propellers if they approach motorboats.

I have to say though that the sharks we saw looked very healthy, and there were some young cubs among them so it seems that two years of feeding them at least hasn’t had a huge immediate impact. The local government has also taken action to control and regulate how tourists are allowed to interact with the animals (I’ve heard some horror stories of what it used to be like before). And even though it’s not natural, I feel that it’s a lot better that the local fishermen make their living by feeding the sharks rather than selling them at the fish market.