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Entries about zambales

Mystery Fish Success!

sunny 35 °C

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We have had remarkable success in deducing the species of our resident mystery fish!

Originally spotted in this video:

....It wasn't until we pulled apart the fish identification journal that we discovered it is a juvenile sweetlips! How a baby fish that is so delicate and beautiful can grow into something so bland and unimaginative I will never understand but that is what the fish bible says so that is what it must be!

Of course, I have had an ear infection for the past few days. Lucky me! So diving is absolutely out... Pfft! I thought I could get a sneaky one in yesterday in just 5m of water which has only succeeded in aggravating the problem further. As it is with my luck, the weather today has been some of the most magnificent I have seen since arriving in the Philippines, not only is the sky blue but the ocean is the most irridescent hue of emerald green I have ever seen in my life. To make matters worse, I can stand out the front of the dive shop, and look straight down at the bottom of the ocean, and follow the sunken barges to the hideout of our little local; the baby Sweetlips. Today he teased me and my debilitating short-comings from 6m below the surface as he danced around with his friend the excessively-large trigger fish who also calls Vasco's his home.

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 18:00 Archived in Philippines Tagged trees diving beach sweet philippines paradise scuba manila dive coconut wreck luzon zambales anilao puerto_galera lips Comments (1)

Roadtrippin' Part 2

Ditumabo Falls

sunny 35 °C

The journey to Ditumabo Waterfalls, the highlight of our road trip, was an amazing experience in itself and the reward was more than worth the journey. I tell our tale through pictures......

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To reach waterfall base camp takes less than twenty minute drive from downtown Baler. Well that is, if you're not held up by a standard Baler road block....
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From this point, our party of intrepid travellers made a magnificent thirty minute trek into lush rainforest, scaling the pipework of a mini hydro-electric plant, clambering over slippery rocks and structurally-questionable bamboo bridges.

Or you can cheat and just walk through the river!

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The mini 'pre-waterfall' waterfall

What we saw when we arrived is what I'd like the call the REAL Philippines; the kind of scenery that belongs on the cover of a travel brochure.
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These photos just don't do it justice due to the amount of spray in the air but it was so beautiful and SO COLD!!!

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We clearly weren't bothered.

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Of course, it wouldn't be Asia without the occasional oddity to keep things exciting.

So after reaching our peak at the waterfalls and having way too much excitement, one too many injuries sustained through stupidity and a little too much sun and good food, we threw in the towel and decided to head home :(
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These were my new little friends that I met on the way to the ATM, before sadly departing back to the real world.

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Of course we couldn't say goodbye without picking up the obligatory souvenirs that we didn't need but can't live without

So exhausted we nearly didn't make it home after colliding with a giant penis carving 1395.jpg100_2448.jpg
a goat with testicles bigger than it's head and two or three road cones. Don't worry, only one cone was mortally wounded. But now we're all going to need a holiday to get over our holiday!

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Aahhh home at last!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 15:44 Archived in Philippines Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes bridges churches people children animals sky planes beer boat sunset diving ocean beach surf cambodia jungle driving white museum island breakfast philippines sand summer surfing cuisine sunglasses camera national bay america resort big tour scuba manila dive underwater asia coconut scuba_diving wreck computer break sihanoukville pottery discovery luzon zambales subic sunburn now south_east_asia clams swell mindoro dive_master dive_centre uss_new_york surfboard barretto olongapo sunbathe zambapalooza puerto_galera wreck_diving baler Comments (4)

Creatures from the Twilight Zone

Just a photographic blog... They speak for themselves :)

sunny 34 °C

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Cerianthus filiformis or 'Tube Anemone'

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Nudibranch; or more correctly, Phyllidia ocellata

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Squid. Supersized!

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Phyllidia varicosa

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Chromodoris willani

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I'm pretty certain they based a Star Wars character on this octopus.

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Phyllidiopsis pipeki

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Phyllidiopsis pipeki... yes I'm a nerd. So what!?

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A crazy new species of nudibranch that not even Jayson has ever seen in the bay before, nor does it appear exactly in my Nudibranch Behaviour book (my brother is saying NERD!). The best I can assume is that he is an Aegires serenae; a Western pacific dorid nudibranch. Interestingly we are on the wrong side of the Philippines to be in the Western pacific....

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Yes, I know you've already seen him, but he definitely fits with the theme!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 18:35 Archived in Philippines Tagged padi museum philippines paradise national scuba sharks wreck mystery dynasty pottery species discovery octopus zambales ceramics anemone ming scientific nudibranch salvage deputy wreck_diving flatworm Comments (0)

Treasure Hunting!!!

The irony of writing a blog strictly about diving: The blog which has so far received the most hits is my Disneyland special...

sunny 35 °C

Today I found out the hard way that you must be on your best behaviour when applying for a visa extension.

I got in some serious trouble when I allegedly tried to question the integrity of the immigration officer, when all I really wanted was an explanation of some mysterious additional charges and he threatened to cancel my visa... oops.
Fortunately I have not yet been blacklisted by Philippines Bureau of Immigration and I am permitted to stay for at least another 38 days. Phew!

On a more exciting note, yesterday was spent in negotiations with some local fisherman regarding the possibility of salvaging a new wreck! So far we know on;y a few details of it's location just north, off an island of Zambales and suspect it to be a Spanish or Dutch ship of about 1608. Upon presentation of a piece of green-glazed Chinese pottery (below), Brian was ready to wet himself with the excitement of this opportunity. 100_2235.jpg100_2230.jpg

To be honest, it sucks to be in the underdog's position in the negotiations and we had to do everything we could to encourage the founders to salavage this wreck as a partner with Brian, and with the knowledge and permission of the National Museum of whom Brian is a deputy. The biggest problem in the Philippines is that wrecks are discovered more often than not by local fisherman, who see nothing in the discovery but dollar signs and so rape and pillage wrecks for all their treasure and sell it to dishonest antique stores, junk shops and overseas buyers before the authorities ever hear of the discovery. Not only does the value of the antiques salvaged depreciate significantly without the certification of the museum, but there is a considerable historic loss to this country which they don't even begin to grasp. So we feel it is important to make them acknowledge their actions in light of the cultural, historical and financial significance of their finds before destroying a piece of Philippine history for a quick buck.

Enough preaching, a new wreck to salvage would be a huge feather in all our caps and we should know the outcome by the end of the week!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 18:26 Archived in Philippines Tagged padi museum philippines paradise national scuba sharks wreck mystery dynasty pottery discovery zambales ceramics ming salvage deputy wreck_diving Comments (1)

Fresh Meat

sunny 32 °C

So Vasco’s has now inherited Mark; the awesome Aussie guy who’s following in my footsteps to become a dive master. He’s going to finish off his Rescue Diver course later today after a quick practice run yesterday, diving the Barges along the airport runway. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d forgotten something…. There was such an amazing cloud of suspended sediment on the surface that we couldn’t even see our fins, but once we descended it was almost perfectly clear, and everything on the ocean floor had the strangest hue of green.
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As I was responsible for purchasing Vasco’s new underwater camera whilst in Kota Kinabalu; a brand spanking Canon S95 sex bomb, I figured it only right that I should take it out on it’s maiden voyage and oh man, it is a-may-ZING!!!
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Of course, the camera can only do so much when it’s operator doesn’t have a clue. I’m sure after a bit more practice they will get better and better :)

I ascended and pretty much lost both Jayson and Mark amidst this thick cloud that appeared at 5m and engulfed everything, leaving nothing but a bright white void. Almost how I imagine dying to be, until the immediate thermal change shocked me from a toasty 29 degrees down to 24 in a matter of a meter of so.
-Not such a comfortable experience when you’ve forgotten your dive computer!

Our afternoon consisted of maintenance work, thanks to the delightful typhoon still erupting outside my window. We dived off Vasco’s jetty and set to work repairing the mooring ropes that had been torn away in the wind…. Well, that’s what we were supposed to be doing. I found this adorable little fish dancing around the shallows, lost the boys completely and took off after it with my camera. By the time I surfaced, they’d already got out, cleaned the gear and had a shower… oops.

If anyone can help me identify this little guy I'd really appreciate it!

Posted by VascoDiveMaster 16:57 Archived in Philippines Tagged waterfalls diving philippines camera paradise tropical scuba manila underwater photography typhoon mystery turtle thunder treasure luzon zambales subic torrential mindoro dive_centre olongapo unidentified puerto_galera Comments (4)

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