Bestest Animals in Malapascua

The island of Malapasqua, just north of Cebu in the Philippines, has become my scuba diving home for me in the last few years. First as a dive spot close to the home of a lady I was romantically involved with, then as the location for the majority of my tech diving training, with Evolution Diving. Since 2012, this year for the 3rd time, I have been organizing the Evolution Photoganza with Evolution Diving, a workshop where I am teaching both underwater photography and marine biology to enthusiastic divers.

What are my favorite animals underwater in Malapascua? There are quite a few worth mentioning!

The gobies! These gobies are like personal friends to me. In 2011 I & the guys at Evolution did a study investigating the goby fauna of Malapascua, and found 59 different species, 2 of them unknown to science. We found gobies associated with shrimps, gobies in the sand, hovering gobies, gobies hiding in-between urchin spines and gobies on crinoids. I love them all!

Malapascua goby on a soft coral.

A must see in Malapascua are of course everyone’s favorite sharks, the thresher sharks, Fuchshaie (in German) or the dako iho (‘Big sharks’ in Visayan). A four meter long ocean predator swimming circles in front of you, before breakfast? Not bad.

Wooow! Coming right at me.

Also pretty cool, if you can find them: the frogfish. In a sense, an apex of vertebrate evolution. Supreme camouflage. These fish look like a piece of algae covered rock, or like a sponge, and behave so calmly that the camouflage tricks lots of their prey fish into not even seeing them before it’s too late and they become frogfish lunch.

A superbly camouflaged hairy frogfish.

The nudibranchs, a type of sea slugs, are abundant and diverse. I got a pretty good shot of this one!

A colorful Nembrotha nudibranch, crawling over the Malapascua reef.

I’ve been going back to Malapascua, since it offers a unique mix of large fish and supreme macro life. The location in the coral triangle, with lots of currents delivering nutrients and a set of deep walls, shallow bays and heavily overgrown pinnacles make an underwater naturalists dreamland. Here are the best shots from last year’s trip. Sounds good? Join us for this year’s Photoganza ’14!