The 2019 edition of the Reef Photo and Video Anilao Underwater Photo and Video Workshop wrapped up last week. This was the 6th annual Reef workshop in beautiful Anilao, Philippines. Each year we’ve been treated to some of the best diving in the world, with an astonishing assortment of underwater creatures for subjects. Our host was the idyllic Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort. Chris Parsons filed daily reports from Anilao about the Workshop.
The area around Anilao and the Verde Island Passage is considered by some biologists to be the underwater biodiversity center of the world. In 2015, an expedition found an asonishing 40 new species of nudibranchs on top of the many hundreds already known.
The water here is at the confluence of several currents, and it is not unusual to get a cold water upwelling bringing nutrient-dense water up to scuba diving depths. Water temps can vary quite a bit here, though generally speaking they run about 82ºF/28ºC this time of year. On this trip, we’ve mostly seen the water a couple of degrees warmer than that, but on one or two of the dives we’ve experienced colder water at depth, down to 76ºF/24ºC, and some extra current to boot.
This part of the world is also part of the “ring of fire” around the Pacific rim. Three years ago, during our workshop, we experienced some earthquakes and aftershocks to remind us of that fact. Fortunately, the ground was nice and stable for this trip.
I recorded the GPS track of all of our boat trips this week and have included some examples here in this blog. Hopefully, this is a fun way to show the different dive sites that we visited this week. I used one of the charting apps I use for sailing to record the tracks. There are a lot of cool tools on the web to show these kind of tracks graphically. One of the fun tools is the “fly over” mode in Google Earth, which allows you to set the camera height and speed as the software flies over the route. To make this work, I exported the tracks and converted the points into a .kmz file for Google Earth.
The wind usually blows from the east (easterly trade winds), but this week we saw light wind mostly from the west. This meant that some of the dives that we’d normally do to the north of Aiyanar (like the Aiyanar Pier) had lower visibility than usual. the good news was that many of the sites in the strait were calmer than usual and had good viz. Nature decides the conditions, and we adapt.
Today’s highlights: small mimic octopus eating a bivalve, return of the huge sea snake, a jawfish with eggs, seahorses, and more tiny shrimp and crabs than I count.
Carpenter, K.E. & Springer, V.G. (2005) The center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity: the Philippine Islands. Environmental Biology of Fishes 72: 467.