Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

Fishes of Coron

Coron is a well-known tourist spot of Palawan.  It is known for its beaches, lakes and diving and snorkeling sites.

It hosts several diving sites with lots of fishes (some are really just snorkeling sites since the corals and fishes are in the shallow part of the sea/islands).

In photographing these fishes, I once again experienced the difficulty of underwater photography.  We are merely a food or two below water (I still don’t know how to swim) and yet auto-ISOs are usually at 400 level, and that’s with a f2.0 or just slightly smaller aperture of the TG2.  Also, today’s rugged compacts only produce jpeg, which makes difficult the correcting of white balance and color in general.  This is especially since Olympus TG2’s default jpeg results in very saturated greens and blues (no option to decrease saturation) and usually darker exposure (I much prefer Panasonic’s underwater pics, though its line of tough cameras have much slower lenses).  That’s why the introduction of Nikon AW1 with a larger sensor and raw shooting excites me (but it is expensive and I fear that the interchangeable lens option may result in leak).  I much prefer a m4/3 or APS-C sized sensor with fixed lens.

Here are some of the pictures of the fishes that I took in Coron.

Fish underneath our boat in Siete Pecados.

Siete Pecados is one of the diving sites very near the town of Coron.  Siete Pecados means “seven sins” and where that came from, we don’t know.  It is one of the coral reefs that have survived the onslaught of Yolanda (Haiyan) and the only spared reef we’ve been to.  The other sites we visited are Bulog Island (just beside Two Season Hotel), and CYC Coral Garden, both of which were heavily devastated by the typhoon and would make a sea lover cry due to the damage to the corals.

Orange Clown Fish

This is my first time to photograph clown fish.  I found out that they are very easy to photograph when they are near their anemone homes.  Unlike other fish which would flee at the first sight of humans, clown fish would stand guard and try to scare off the big humans.

Yellow Clown Fish (left) and Orange Clown Fish

It was the first time I saw a fish that lives in an anemone that doesn’t look like the three-striped Nemo clown fish.  I though it was a different kind of fish but upon googling, I found out that it is a variant of clown fish called yellow clown fish.  Instead of three vertical white stripes, it has a long white stripe on its back (top).

Another thing I learned is that anemone fish (the orange Nemo type) changes colors.  I knew before that they change sex as they age but not color.  The picture above shows a regular bright orange fish with a much darker and larger fish living in the same anemone.  It turns out that some clown fish grow darker as they grow older (probably as they change sex too).

Strange fish in the strange Twin Lagoon.

Twin Lagoons is one of the stops of most tours of Coron.  It is basically an enclosed lagoon connected by a small tunnel to a larger lagoon.  At low tide, you can just float to the smaller inner lagoon but at high tide, you have to swim underwater or climb a ladder to get to the inner one.  The strange thing about the two lagoons is that the water looks kinda like a mixture of oil and alcohol.  When you swim, the water is cold but when you stay still, it becomes much warmer.  According to our tour guide, this is due to the mixture of sea water and fresh water (from the island).

The above fish is another strange thing we saw.  The fish are swimming still around the ladder (partly submerged).  They are very still unless you make sudden moves (unlike other fishes which just swim away the moment they see you coming).  It’s as if they are staring into the wood of the ladder and expecting something wonderful to emerge from it.

Needle fish.

The last picture above is of the needle fish (so called because of their long and pointy “snout”).  They are also found in Barracuda Lake and probably in the 11 other lakes in the island of Coron

(The town of Coron is situated in the much larger Busuanga Island but takes its name from the smaller Coron Island which is just in front of the town.  Coron Island is said to be home to 13 lakes, only two of which are open to public – Kayangan and Barracuda.  Our guide said that the others are closed as these are sacred to the Tagbanua people who inhabit the island.  Included in the closed to public lakes is Cabugao Lake, which is the largest lake in the island, much larger than all of the other lakes combined.  For me, this is a good thing to preserve the lake for the future.)

It is sad that Yolanda caused so much damage to the corals that they will definitely impact the number and variety of fishes.  I just hope that they will remain abundant as the fishes and coral reefs make Coron a truly excited tourist spot to visit.

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