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June 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Atlantis Dumaguete Resort, Negros Island, Philippines

an abundance of creatures in clean muck

from the June, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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If I see a ghost pipefish on an Indo-Pacific dive, I consider it a good dive. By that standard, I was over-the-moon on my dives along the Dauin Coast, on the south of Negros Island, which has several marine sanctuaries. I seldom ended a dive without seeing at least a dozen ghost pipefish and almost as many frogfish. What I saw diving with Dumaguete Resort was like leafing through a fish ID book.

The bangka is pulled right up to the beachAt North Dauin, I spotted three stark-white mushroom pipefish at the base of a green mushroom coral. When I turned from one pair of ghost pipefish, I often bumped into another just a few feet away. Filament-covered ornate ghost pipefish in shades of red, black and yellow were prevalent, and I also spotted roughsnout, halimeda, and robust ghost pipefish. A couple of juvenile peacock razorfish caught my attention with their long first dorsal fin. Fighting male dragonets with erect golden predorsal fins added drama. Waspfish kept their distance. On this dive, I was impressed with the color variations of painted frogfish: yellow, black, cream, orange, and pink, and a black half-inch juvenile I peered at with my magnifying glass had bright orange dots and blue trim on the fin borders and tiny feet and toes. Every time I saw an orange speck, I would head toward it to see if it was a frogfish. Amazing how many times it was! Such a treasure house of critters on one dive!

Most dive sites were only a few minutes away over expansive brown sandy areas ending with low coral heads, and little, if any, current. And clean muck, unlike the trash-laden sites I dived in Indonesia at Mucky Mosque in the Alor Archipelago, Ambon and elsewhere. Visibility in the sandy areas beyond 10 feet (3m) was poor, but it increased in the coral areas. My dives ranged from 53 to 70 minutes at depths from 52 feet (16m) to 83 feet (25m).

The Dauin coast has several small low-profile resorts. Atlantis Dumaguete has 38 thatched-roof rooms in charming bungalows or two-story buildings with four units each, which vary in size and price. Spaced along meandering stone pathways, they're surrounded by orchids and lush foliage. However, after a rainfall, my dive buddy slipped on the slippery stones and cut his arm. There is an attractive pool, and the adjacent spa offers massages. The ambiance was only marred by the occasional smell of burning trash at nearby properties....

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