It has been several months since my last post here in my blog. As a return, I feature our latest underwater adventure in Moalboal,Cebu. Moalboal is one of the towns in the province (and island) of Cebu. It is very famous for its underwater marine life treasures. Lots of our people (particularly foreigners) come here to dive (freedive and scuba).
This was our second time in Moalboal. The first time we went there, only Elaine knew how to freedive. The rest of us were either wearing lifevests or are just floating on the surface. This time, fortunately, most of us know how to float and freedive.
Moalboal is really filled with beautiful underwater treasures. There is a huge group of sardines just swimming a few steps from the shore. There is a cliff drop just a few steps from the shore and perhaps from this feature allows nutrients from the bottom to rise providing food to the school of sardines.
There is also a marine turtle sanctuary. It is a place where sighting of sea turtles is almost always a guarantee. In both of our trips there, we were able to see several turtles swimming and sleeping and feeding. The turtle sanctuary also features a drop off. The top part (about 5-6 meters in most of the area) is filled with hard corals and lots of reef fishes. After this comes a cliff dropping off to probably 30 meters of more. The side of this cliff is also filled with marine wildlife.
Another diving destination in the town is Pescador Island. One side of the island has a small strip of shallow coral reefs (about 3-5 meters). After this is another cliff drop much deeper than that in marine turtle sanctuary. Most of the pictures here were taken from this side. The other side (we went there last time but not on this trip) is a much larger area of corals on shallow waters. The current, however, is much stronger, and people on lifevests are easy prey to being dragged with the current.
Another area for diving is Zaragosa Island but this is probably mostly for open-water scuba divers. We have not been to this place yet. The dive maps of Moalboal indicates that there are whale sharks, thresher sharks, manta rays and other sea creatures here.
The group includes myself, Eman, Oyet, Elaine, Myra and her sister Maji. Elaine’s friend, Bea, joined us there. Except for Myra and Maji, all of us are already comfortable in the sea and can make do without lifevests, just a mask, snorkel and fins. On our third and last day, Myra was finally able to snorkel without vests. A few more sea trips and she’ll be under the surface with us.
Moalboal is really a beautiful place and we were very very happy that we decided to come back here when we were able to appreciate more the things that the sea offers below its surface.
Time to learn another photo-related thing. This time, it’s compositing or blending two pictures. Here’s my first semi-successful trial.
The picture is a composite of two pictures both taken in Cebu (during our trip) – a day apart, using my infrared camera (Panny GX1). The background is on Moalboal on a sunny day with beautiful clouds. The foreground, taken a day earlier, was taken in the highest point in Cebu (Osmena Peak). It was very early in the morning and light is not that yet bright. ISO is 200 but the foreground had to be pushed several stops resulting in noise (GX1 has poor dynamic range). It was foggy so the sky is a uniform white (or pink in infrared).
Combined in Photoshop using layers (with magic wand defining the sky). Only semi-successful as the image quality of the foreground is noticeably different from the sky. Also, transition between the layers is too abrupt.
Only the first try so lots of improvement in the future.
One of our itinerary in Cebu is snorkeling in Moalboal to see lots of fishes and sea turtles. We were lucky that when we went snorkeling, we were able to see several sea turtles (Elaine went there before and didn’t see sea turtles). We were also fortunate enough to see dolphins swimming beside and around our boat!
Underneath the Sea
Here are some of the things we saw under the sea. The corals are not that colorful but there were lots and lots of colorful fish!
It was really a wonderful experience! One I’d like to try again soon but probably not in Cebu but in nearby provinces (Marinduque perhaps).
This is the wonderful Tumalog Falls! The falling water on the rocks is so wonderful to behold. Too bad I don’t have a wide lens (this was already 25mm equivalent) to capture the whole falls. This was also taken with the Olympus TG2 so image quality is not that great (this was taken under the falls so the other cameras will get wet).
This is a black and white picture taken when we were leaving Tumalog Falls.
This is the same picture in infrared color (590nm with channels inverted and red set to pinkish).
September 11, 2013
Our main purpose for our travel to Cebu really is to swim and see the whale sharks, the biggest fish and is locally known as butanding.
The butandings are regularly sighted in Oslob, Cebu, a coastal town 3.5 hours south of Cebu City. We arrivedat our hotel in Oslob the previous day and had to wake up early to meet the gentle giants. The butandings regularly go near the shore of Brgy. Tan-awan every morning as the fishermen (who have become boatmen for tourists) feed them small shrimps. The cost of meeting the butanding is Php500 per person. Before our boat went to the feeding area to meet the butanding, we were required by local ordinance to attend a very brief orientation conducted by the local government or DENR. The lady basically said: no flash photography, do not touch the whale sharks, stay 4 meters away from the butandings and do not wear sunblock and other skin products (those who did were advised to wash it off at the shower area). After that, it was less then 5 minutes trip to the feeding area.
Meeting the Butandings
Meeting the whale sharks is really a wonderful experience. The butandings we met were all juvenile but their size is already massive (according to the boatmen, the adults come a little later in the morning). They were accustomed to the fishermen feeding them and to the people surrounding them that they seem oblivious to humans and just swimming to and fro the boat where small shrimps are being thrown in the water.
With the boats so close together and with several people snorkeling, diving and swimming, it is impossible to stay 4 meters away from any of whale sharks. At one point, a whale sharks just passed in front of me (the picture of the eye of the fish below) and one brushed against Elaine as she swimming.
As I said, they are really giant despite their large size that I did not fear being harmed by them but fear from drowning (even though I wear a life vest) or just dropping my camera.
I took this next two pictures while I was holding on to the boat and the whale shark was passing in front of me, so close I can touch it if I just extend my hand (of course, per briefing, it is not allowed to touch them so why break the rules?).
Being there, each of us had to take our solo pictures with the butandings…
Elaine, an applicant for an organization of skin divers, is more fearless in swimming and diving away from the boat and thus offered better opportunities to be photographed well with the giants.
That’s me, keeping close to the boat. (left), Eman, giving the thumbs up sign for the experience. (right)
Here are some more pics of the whale shark.
A whale shark swimming, with a smaller fish below it –>
A butanding waiting for the small shrimp being fed by the boatmen.
After our 30-40 minutes of swimming with the whale sharks is up, it was time for us to go back to our hotel, tidy up and rush back to Cebu City for our flight back home. It was such a short time but it is really wonderful and will stay with us, probably for the rest of our lives.
These are my travel companions for our Cebu trip: Oyet, Tiny, Eman, Ellidel, Macky, Elaine and Grant. We were on top of Osmena Peak during Osmena Day.