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Expect to wake up before the break of day to get into the boats that will bring you to Monad Shoal. The threshers come out to feed early in the morning. You need to use Nitrox for these dives and the water can get quite rough. It was great experience for me to descend from big choppy waves. It was also quite an experience to have the boatmen get a grab of you like you would luggage on an airport conveyor belt. They knew what to do to keep you safe.
Gato Island is a dichotomy. It’s a great site for macro photography: nudibranches, little frogfish, pygmy seahorse etc. It’s also known to have the white tip reef sharks that can grow up to 5 feet in length. White tips normally do not attack humans, however they can get curious.
What we didn’t expect was the beauty of Doña Marilyn wreck. Covered in barnacles and coral, the wreck has an eerie but whimsical feel about it. There are nudibranches, sweet lips, a school of bat fish and resident golden moray eel. Some people have reported seeing manta rays and white tip sharks.
The wreck was a ferry that sank over 20 years ago and lies 32 m underwater on it’s starboard side (it’s the right side as long as you’re facing the bow). The ship is about 98m long and you can see the vastness of the ship from a distance, despite typical Malapascua visibility. Many lives were lost in this disaster.
We didn’t penetrate Donya Marilyn much as we wanted to. There are safety protocols that have to be done on the site. It was interesting to note how the condition of the wreck was from the outside. Compared to many wreck sites we’ve been, Donya Marilyn isn’t badly butchered. This may be due to it’s distance from dry land. It took us an hour and a half to get there.
Malapascua was a milestone for me. There is a variety of diving conditions and sites that had their own challenges. Each dive had a different character on their own. It is a good place to bring you out of your comfort zone and I promise to do it again.
See you on the next giant stride!!!
Credits Anna Varona