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Southern Leyte dive day #6

Today, the sun is shining and there is a certain degree of excitement as it’s whale shark trip day.

After our usual breakfast we step on to the boat and head over to ‘the other side’ for a dive at Napantao. This is a Marine Protected Area (no fishing) and seldom disappoints.

A gentle slope down a mostly hard coal reef gives way to a fantastic wall which is festoon with life at all levels. Soft corals, hydrozoa, all manner of fish (big frog, small frog and others) after about 30 minutes we reverse direction and come back a little higher where we see a continuous cloud of anthias, more frog fish and other stuff.

Here is our vessel!

Then we are off to Sonok Point to look for the elusive whalesharks. We pick up the spotters along the way, about a dozen men in very small canoes with outriggers. They get towed along as we make our way to the whaleshark hotspot. On the way their knot tying let them down a couple of times and we had to stop whilst they re attached several canoes.

Once we arrive, the drill is as follows: the spotters paddle about looking for passing sharks whilst we wait on the boat with masks and fins on ready to jump. When one is spotted, the boat moves ahead of it’s predicted path and we are given the order to jump. At this point mayhem ensues as we have to jump in order (the boat is still moving forward), some take longer than others to jump and some just push in.

Once in the water we all swim like crazy towards the action and glimpse whatever we can of the beast.

Once the drama is all over, the boat moves into position to pick us all up rather like lifeboats from the Carpathia picking up survivors from the Titanic, we are all over the place.

Back on board we reset, put our fins and masks on again and get ready for the next sighting.

I think we all jumped about 5 times and I saw three sharks. After that we are all fairly whacked and agree to call it a day.

We drop the spotters back at their village and make our way back to base for a dive on the house reef followed almost immediately by a night dive on Padre Burgos town pier.

This dive is a little like diving under the lifeboat station, lots of pillars and all sorts of life. We spotted frog fish, seahorse, nudis, anemones, star gazers, squid, bobtail squid and other stuff.

One point worth mentioning is the fact that entry to and exit from the dive is via a very step set of steps, half of which are covered in the most slippery substance known to man. Consequently, and despite warnings to this effect, I managed to expedite my entry to the dive by slipping on the steps and landing on my backside. My descent was finally arrested when I skillfully caught the bottom of my cylinder on one of the steps, order was one more restored.

We get back to base feeling more than a little knackered, no crib, just dinner then bed. The next thing I know it’s 06.15 and we’re off again.