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The Evolution of Monad Shoal

evolution monad shoal scuba diving malapascua philippines

I have been diving Monad Shoal for the last 4 years, logging hundreds of dives on this looming seamount. During this time I have seen many changes – both positive and negative – on Malapascuas (and indeed, one of the Philippines’) most famous dive sites.

Typhoon Yolanda most certainly made an impact back in 2013, shifting literally tonnes of sand from one side of Monad to the other, exposing a lot of rocky nooks and crannies on the Eastern side (where the thresher cleaning stations are located) for the more vulnerable reef dwellers to hide. This change, coupled with increased protection measures on the Shoal, has dramatically increased both population and diversity of life on Monad Shoal.

Species that were rarely, if ever seen here are now thriving – schools of redtooth triggerfish swarming the plateau, scribbled filefish and batfish in abundance, barracuda cruising the reef and even the occassional sighting of a monstrous green turtle! Clown triggerfish, chunky reef octopuses, eagle and devil rays also spotted on recent excursions.

monad shoal malapascua philippines

In a bid to collect data and monitor this biomass increase Evolution is teaming up with People and the Sea, an NGO working with local dive industry and community, to survey key areas of Monad and collect information on various species and analyse any changes that might be occurring to different populations. We will keep you updated as this project unfolds.

There has never been a better time to explore Monad Shoal, not only to spot the majestic threshers, but to observe an abundant and diverse ecosystem right on our doorstep! Next time you visit Evolution, ask us about some of our favourite spots on this towering shoal, and we can share with you some of Monads secret treasures!

malapascua scuba diving sites monad shoal

Hot Chocolate

chocolate island malapascua

It is almost the first thing you see after you leave Maya Harbour, before you even reach Malapascua, a ‘bump in the sea’ called Chocolate Island. It may not seem like much above water, just another rock covered with trees, but underneath the surface it’s a completely different world!

With a mix of walls, slopes and boulders, Chocolate Island has got a bit of everything.  Start in the rubble amongst cuttlefish, so many nudibraches and flat worms, that you will soon loose track of the number, and the possibility of seeing a seahorse or even a frogfish or two if you are really lucky! Finish off the dive at 5 meters, closer to the island, where the walls and slopes are covered with soft corals, where a moray eel might hang out with a cleaning shrimp in a hole, or a lionfish resting and waiting for sunset and hunting time. So to put it simply, focus is on the small stuff and make sure to bring your macro lens!

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With a max depth of around 16 meters the dives become long and without much focus needed on the no-deco limit, unless it is your third dive of the day of course!

There might not be candy at Chocolate Island, but the diving is still pretty sweet.  We are very ‘fondant’ of this treat just waiting to be unwrapped!

frogfish malapascua philippines

Songs in the Key of Life

 

videoke malapascua philippines

The Philippines is famous for many good reasons – amazing beaches, amazing diving, amazing selfie obsessed people and not least a national obsession with videoke. Whether you are a budding balladeer or a tone deaf tenor you will find people enthusiastically singing or screeching in every nook and cranny across the country. And Malapascua is no exception.

With our recent Fiesta having just been and gone and quickly followed by our big staff party videoke has been a popular pursuit of late. You can probably spot some of your favourite dive staff in the photos. If you ever get the chance to join the locals do not miss the opportunity, it is a very serious pastime but not one where the vocally challenged are judged or derided.

So here are some top tips for enjoying videoke in the Philippines

  1. Don’t be self conscious – being utterly woeful at singing has NEVER stopped anyone from doing their best Freddy Mercury impression. Ahem.
  2. Seek help – every group has their Pavarotti and often videokes have two live mics so enlist the best back up singer you can.
  3. Judge the mood. Are you with a group of gals trying to cheer up their recently single friend? Think George Michael. Are you drinking a few grande beers with the lads? Bon Jovi all night!
  4. Don’t be afraid to be impulsive. Searching through the catalogue can get increasingly more difficult as the night goes on so if you see a song you like just do it. As the night goes on no one cares!
  5. Try and enjoy your companions and avoid being mesmerised by the out of sync random Korean boy and girl bands dancing to your tune.
  6. If a room is designed for 6 cram at least 15 in there and enjoy the party.
  7. Try your hand at rapping. Some songs have cheesy bridges with no vocals so let forth your inner Snoop.
  8. Avoid videoke’s that are open air or have windows because that is how your wife will find you at midnight. Right Joshua?

For more info on how to enjoy the real Malapascua contact us at info@evolution.com.ph

Help Protect Seahorses!

help protect seahorses evolution dive resort philippines

On the 7th of April we posted a blog about how awesome seahorses are, here is a timely follow up on why they need our help.

Seahorses have a very small home range and are very vulnerable to changes in their habitat. A lot of seahorses mate for life but they don’t live together. The female will visit the male everyday to curl their tales around each other. If it happens that one of them dies the other seahorse will take a long to find a new mate and even might be at risk of never reproducing again. 

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) have on their Red list of threatened species, 11 out of 35 seahorse species listed as vulnerable with one even considered endangered. The rest of the seahorses are listed as Data Deficient demonstrating the lack of knowledge about seahorse biology. So every time you\ see one of these amazing animals you may be making observations still relatively new to science.

One of the main threats to seahorses is their use in traditional Chinese ‘medicine’. Seahorses have been used for so called treatment for over 600 years. Seahorses and close relatives, like pipefish, are believed to cure a wide variety of illnesses from asthma to impotence,and together with medicine they are also eaten as a tonic food. Yes it is complete nonsense.

Furthermore seahorses get caught in the wild and are put to in private aquariums, while dead seahorses are incorporated in to jewellery, key chains and other crafts. Other factors which make the seahorses more vulnerable are blast fishing, coastal development, mangrove conversion or getting caught in  by-catch – for example by shrimp fishing where they do bottom trawling.

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fun facts about seahorses

So how can we help?

As soon as you are a diver or even a snorkeler you can take part in helping seahorses. 

Seahorses are difficult to study in the wild because of their ability to camouflage, as their surroundings.

Therefore scientists need our help, if you see any seahorses in the wild you can help by reporting it on ISeahorse.org. By reporting where and what kind of seahorse you see, scientists can then use that data for research and can cross reference it with other users sightings. 

So on your next trip to Malapascua get a photo of the seahorses we have all around the island  and get involved!

project seahorse philippines

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southeast asian seahorses philippines

Earth Day 2017

earth day 2017 philippines

Every year the 22nd of April is Earth day. This is a day where we give back to earth what it gives us everyday – protection and a chance of life.

This year we contributed in two very different ways:

First of all, as we try and do often – ocean clean up. We sent our staff that was not already busy diving, out to do a clean up. After an hour dive the group managed to collect about 5kg of trash. We went back to one of the sites we progressively try and keep clean. We have chosen this site because its so exposed to trash from the mainland and the local fishing village next to it. One thing we are sure about here, is that the clean ups are helping and we see less and less trash. We will keep doing our part as long as we need and hope one day trash will no longer end up in the ocean.

Secondly the Reed family and Ophelia Bohannon got together and brought vets to the island. They have together donated spay and neuters for cats and dogs together with rabies vaccines and de-worming. Lots of the local community took advantages and brought their pets to the event. The nearest vet is located on the mainland of Cebu about an hour away. So by bringing vets to the island, more animal have gotten attention and more help then they would otherwise. Hopefully this can help to healthier animals on the island and less stray cats and dogs.

Buying New Dive Gear with the Environment in mind

evolution dive resort malapascua dive lights

Everyone loves shopping for new dive gear, and we at Evolution we are no strangers to this enjoyable activity. So we had fun recently adding new dive lights to our inventory for guest rental.

We have had various types of feedback on our rental lights over the years, so with the improvements in battery and bulb technology recently we took all of this into account. The result is much smaller lights, which are brighter, and last longer, than the sturdy old ones our guests are used to.

But the best part of all is that these lights use rechargeable batteries, so they fit very well with our ethos of environmentally sustainable diving practices. We have spare batteries, to make sure the lights are always available and powered up, so just let us know if you’d like to rent a light for your night dive or swimming through the Gato Island tunnel.

rechargeable dive lights evolution dive resort malapascua philippines

In addition to our efforts, we are encouraging all out guests to bring home their used batteries. Somehow it has become standard practice for people to leave behind used batteries when on holiday, so they don’t have to carry them back home. But this is a dangerously flawed logic, as countries such as the Philippines do not really provide quality recycling for things like batteries. But in most countries in Europe, or the USA or Australia they have facilities which can handle the correct methods to recycle batteries.

So, please, get rechargeable batteries for your devices, and if not, then don’t leave your used batteries to become someone else’s problem!

dive light batteries notice evolution diving resort philippines