Asian Geographic

Puerto Galera

A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with over 40 dive sites, Puerto Galera offers incredibly diverse underwater experience­s in the heart of the Coral Triangle.

- Text Rachel Kwek

Located on the northern tip of Mindoro, the seventh largest island in the Philippine­s, Puerto Galera is famous for macro diving but it also offers some breathtaki­ng wreck dives.

One must-visit site is Giant Clams, a protected area in Puerto Galera Bay with clams that are hundreds of years old and as large as 1.5 metres wide. Sloping down to a sandy grass-covered bottom, this is a popular site for spotting hairy frogfish, mimic octopuses, wonderpuse­s, and flamboyant cuttlefish. Electric clams are an exciting sight if you dive at night. These peculiar creatures reflect light and give the appearance of electricty flowing through them.

Coral Cove is an excellent macro dive site with a sloping reef filled with nudibranch­s, ribbon eels, pipefish, frogfish, seahorses and orangutan crabs. Montani and Shipyard are lesser-known macro diving sites.

Those up for some wall diving should not miss Sinandigan Wall. It extends from about 5 to 40 metres underwater and is littered with many nudibranch­s and small creatures. Its a great place to spot frogfish, leaffish, crocodilef­ish, different species of anemones and plenty of small shrimp residing in the mushroom corals. Further down the wall, you can also see soft corals, sea whips, sweetlips, whitetip reef sharks and turtles. In 2017, Dr Terry Gosliner from the California Academy of Sciences identified 200 new species of fish, coral and critters in Puerto Galera. By choosing responsibl­e dive operators, divers can do their part to preserve marine species. In an initiative involving a number of dive operators including Atlantis Resort, Alma Jane (a 60-tonne, 32-metre steel-hulled Filipino cargo vessel built in 1966 in Japan) was stripped of dangerous objects and intentiona­lly sunk in 2003. Hard and soft corals, shrimps, crabs and small creatures inhabit the upper deck. Light rays entering the vessel from its various skylights create a beautiful scene. Moray eels reside in the metal structure, while the mast on the bow is now home to oyster clams and hard corals. Diving on the sandy bottom allows you to get an excellent view of the ships silhouette. A dramatic set of three canyons lie on the northeaste­rn-most side of Puerto Galera, on the Verde Island Passage an hours boat ride away from Puerto Galera. Thanks to the strong currents that bring nutrient-rich water, this site attracts schools of fish like giant trevally, sweetlips and snapper. Another popular dive site here is Pinnacles with its distinctiv­e volcanic rock formations rising over 100 metres from the sea floor. Among the vibrant hard and soft corals, gorgonian fans and sponges, it is common to see juvenile angelfish, butterflyf­ish, dark redtooth triggerfis­h, sea snakes, frogfish and large schools of pelagic fish. ag

 ??  ?? BELOW Days are often sunny and hot in Puerto Galera though the chances of rain are higher between May and January.
BELOW Days are often sunny and hot in Puerto Galera though the chances of rain are higher between May and January.

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