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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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April 2024    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 50, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Malapascua, Moaboal, Philippines

undulating thresher sharks, swirling sardines

from the April, 2024 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

Tepanee Beach ResortI had a single reason to make the long, tiring journey to Malapascua. Thresher Sharks. The animals average about 10 feet or more, and more than half of that is their magnificent arching tail, which they use to frighten and chase their prey into schools so they can feed on them.

But Malapascua is complicated to reach, so to make it worthwhile, I added a second stop, Moalboal, famous for its great schools of swirling sardines.

After changing flights in Manila, I arrived at Mactan-Cebu International Airport and overnighted at the Reef Island Resort. The next morning, my partner, I, and two other divers were picked up for a five-hour van ride, weaving in and out of traffic, passing trikes, jitneys, trucks, and scooters with lots of horn honking, all made more difficult as we sat in the cramped van with our knees up to our chests.

Then, it was a 45-minute ride aboard a 30-passenger ferry to Malapascua, an island half the size of Central Park. We pulled up to the Thresher Shark Divers Shop, where I dropped off my dive gear, and the staff carried my other belongings to Tepanee Beach Resort, a 5-minute walk. The island has no cars -- pushcarts and muscle move about everything.

The next morning, we motored to Monad Shoal, once the threshers' home, until tiger sharks moved in. We dropped to a sandcovered plateau 50 feet deep, accented with small clumps of coral and rubble, where I watched damselfish, zigzag wrasses, schools of striped catfish, and colorful anthias. Our guide found a large-scaled dwarf flounder and a four-inch painted frogfish dangling its long lure. But no tiger sharks. Oh well. As the dive ended, I didn't have high hopes for seeing threshers at the next destination.

But wow. How wrong I was. As soon as I descended at Kimud Shoal, our dive guide, Mark, pointed at two gray shadows in the distance, only a hint of what was to come. Soon, several threshers swam by, and then again, this time closer, and one swam back and forth between another diver and me as we took endless photos. It was 40 feet deep, the top of Kimud Shoal. The nondescript bottom with rubble, sand, and small coral heads drops off to a wall we explored, but the thresher encounters occurred at the top....

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