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Dive Review of Turtle Bay in
Philippines/Moalboal, Cebu

Turtle Bay, Mar, 2011,

by Kimberley Fox/Michael O'Reilly, AP, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 5991.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bunaken, Lembeh, Wakatobi, Sippadan, Indonesian Borneo, GBR, South Australia, PNG, Tanzania, Philippines many locations, Little Caymen, Belize, Turks and Caicos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 27 to 28 Celsius Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 12 to 16 Meters

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minute duration (irregularly enforced)
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Boat has no clean water dedicated to cameras. Camera rinse tank at dive hut not always clean.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments A three-hour drive from the Cebu airport, Turtle Bay is one of several dive resorts on Moalboal. Owned by the pleasant Brit/Filippina couple Chris and Fe, the resort has accomodation for up to 50 people. Standard schedule includes a two tank morning dive; destination alternates between nearby tiny Pescador Island and multiple sites (mostly wall dives) on Moalboal's coast. Pescador is about 30 minutes by boat. The Moalboal sites are all within 15 minutes or so.
Pescador's signature attraction is a large school of swarming sardines, around which barracuda and hunting jacks are often found. Divers can swim through parting clouds of sardines to appreciate the swarm up close. Thresher sharks and whale sharks are rarely seen here. Threshers apparently made routine appearances at Pescador until about two years ago. Aside from the sardines, Pescador has an interesting variety of frogfish and scorpionfish and an occasional octopus. At the Moalboal sites over the course of a week we saw about 10 orangutang crabs on bubble coral, a variety of scorpionfish including several species of leaf scorpionfish and probably 100 common pipefish (no ghost pipefish.) There is a nearby mandarin fish dive, but the site is very small and the resort tries to limit the mandarin dives to only two divers. Our best dive may have been a night dive at Moalboal Bay - very shallow - where we saw octopus, many species of translucent shrimp, a sargassum file fish, unusual decorator crabs and an eel-tailed catfish. Afternoon dives are available, though sometimes only shore dives on the house reef. This is not a bad reef, but it's not so interesting that you will want to do it every day.
The boats used at Turtle Bay, of the bangka type common in this region, have little shade; no space dedicated to cameras; at low tide divers are shuttled to and from the pier by a smaller motor boat. The bangka felt crowded with 12 divers on board for Pescador trips. Guide quality is highly variable.
Although the corals seem healthy, the overall volume and diversity of marine life is much lower than anywhere else we've been in the Philippines. This may be due to the abundance of local fishermen line fishing at many of the dive sites. On the last trip to Pescador I counted 13 fishermen's bangkas lined up nose to nose with dive boats. Apparently the locals have abandoned net fishing, but they are politically powerful and no protection of the reefs from line fishing is imminent. The impact on the reefs is clear: almost none of the larger reef fish were spooted by us during a week of diving. Another factor may be in play here, however, as we saw few nudibranchs in our dives here, very unusual for the Philippines.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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