This dive weekend was special. It was planned with one thing in mind … it was going to be an “underwater photographers fun dive.” Except for two divers, everybody was equipped with a camera. It didn’t matter how skilled a photographer you were, it just mattered that you had a camera and took underwater pix.
Our instructor Dave didn’t bring his camera as he had to keep an eye on the two other non-photographers who were fairly new to diving. Personally, I was hesitant in bringing my rig since I had been having problems with my eye-piece. Nevertheless, I brought my rig in case things turned for the better.
Some arrived Friday night (Dave, Paz, John, Julie Ann, Manolo, and myself), while some arrived Friday morning (Jadie, Philip, Kay and Agnes), and the rest arrived Saturday night (Jingle, Aldene, Gina).
I’ll cut to the chase and talk about Sunday’s last dive… divers that went out were: Paz, John, Julie Ann, Jingle, Agnes, Philip, Kay, Dave, Elmer, and myself. Elmer Mendoza, a long time friend and DM was requested to join us to provide another set of “spotter” eyes. For the second dive, Twin Rocks was requested because Jingle had not seen the school of jacks there. Aside from that, Twin rocks is always a nice photographer’s site. Fairly shallow, hardly any current, quite colorful and the diversity of life is abundant.
I didn’t bring my camera for the Sunday dives because my eye-piece was really giving me problems … time to replace it. Kay and Philip weren’t feeling well after the first dive and decided to miss the second dive… something they’ll regret later.
The dive started north of the barge, the visibility was terrible… it took approximately 12 minutes to fin towards the barge. I was in front of the group, hoping to spot critters for the group to take – primarily cuttlefish. I did find one but the group were busy with other subjects … and this one just didn’t want to stay in place. I decided to fin towards the Twin Rocks… Elmer and Agnes were to my left approximately 20 feet but really couldn’t see them except for their tanks and bubbles shimmering in the light. Dave was behind me but I couldn’t see him most of the time.
As I was approaching the Twins, at approximately 35fsw, I saw something dark swimming from my 1-o’clock position – the shallows. I thought, this is a huge fish, maybe a wrasse. As it headed in my direction, its body became clear… I had to check if I was really seeing what I was… I signalled to Elmer and pointed to the creature… at the same time, I signalled the others to come. Elmer and Agnes saw it … there was no missing it since it passed in front of us, briskly swimming into deeper waters. Dave, who was behind us about 20ft., saw a shadow move across but didn’t know what it was – the visibility was that bad.
So what was it??? Rhincodon typus – commonly known as Whale Shark. Yes, we saw a Whale in Anilao … at Twin Rocks!!! The quick response of the group to my banging was remarkable, they were all there in about 5 seconds … but it was too late … the shark had gone into the deep.
“The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow filter feeding shark that is the largest living fish species. It can grow up to 12.2 m. (40 ft.) in length and can weigh up to 13.6 tonnes (15 short tons). This distinctively-marked shark is the only member of its genus Rhincodon and its family, Rhincodontidae (called Rhinodontes before 1984), which is grouped into the subclass ElasmobranchiiChondrichthyes. The shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea and can live for about 70 years. The species is believed to have originated about 60 million years ago.” – Wikipedia
It was a fairly small animal, around 10-12 feet … very juvenile, but that wasn’t the point. I’ve seen a whale shark before, another juvenile of about 17-20 feet at Tubbataha, but this was Anilao – Twin Rocks for goodness sakes!!!
Another person that saw the whale shark was Polli, our trusted and very knowledgeable boat captain. Apparently, the whale shark made a u-turn and headed back into the shallows and surfaced. It circled our boat before heading off into the deep.
There have been numerous reports in the recent past about sightings in the area, we’ve always wished that at least one of us would see one. Apparently, it was only a matter of time.
3 fingers unto your forehead (underwater hand signal for whale shark) … 2 pinnacles (Twin Rocks) … 1 fish (the largest in the ocean) … Anilao = Whale Shark!!! – just ask Elmer, Agnes and myself.
What a way to cap the weekend! So, what’s next – a manta? There have been sightings in Anilao too …