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Underwater Digital Photography: Split-mediums: Whale Sharks at Oslob


There are no other images that better connect land-loving humans to the underwater world than split-level photography. Being able to see what is happening both above the water level and underwater is a great way of telling the whole story. Whether you are showing a healthy shallow reef and tropical island or the mangrove forest continuing its journey underwater, it is a technique that becomes very useful once perfected.

split view whale shark resized 600


There are some obvious requirements like a very large dome and calm sea conditions to help you get split shots. However, you shouldn't just be clicking these images at the end of a dive whilst waiting for guests to get back on the boat, these shots require as much planning, time and thought as any other shots worth taking. With some imagination and exploration you can find unique locations to test this style, maybe a garden pond or local stream that has an interesting backdrop on land. Freshwater locations can also have interesting and different creatures underwater, then there are the infamous pigs that swim in the sea that have now been featured by many underwater photographers. If you think about it and get creative, this technique can produce some very unique and interesting images. 

To perfect your split-level images, here are some useful tips to follow:

  1. Use a fisheye lens. The best setup for this style of photography is a fisheye lens in a large glass dome port. Larger domes are better as they give you a larger window to the underwater surface. If you have ever tried to get a split shot with a mini-dome and less than perfect conditions, you will know the meaning of the word frustration, as getting the water line where you want it across the image is nearly impossible. 
  2. Use small apertures. Small apertures are better to increase your depth of field. Your underwater subject is likely to be closer to the camera than the surface focus point, so you really need to increase your chances of having everything in focus. If you are in dark conditions like mangrove forests or streams, then push the ISO up to increase the aperture settings.
  3. Find the perfect time of day and water conditions. This is a tough one as the calmer conditions are usually early in the morning; however, the sun will penetrate deeper during mid-day and help light the underwater conditions. I actually like conditions when there is a small wave so that you get some curvature to the water surface. In my opinion, a curved surface gives more shape to the image.
  4. Stay shallow. It helps to shoot these images in the shallowest water possible — the light penetrates better and you can get closer to the shoreline if you are incorporating an island in the top half of the image. If you are shooting reef scenes, shoot at low tide so that the coral is even closer to the surface, but be careful not to damage any coral.
  5. Pay attention to buoyancy. If you are planning to be in the water a long time, it may help to trim the weight of your housing so that it sits nicely on the surface. Some of the current camera housings are very heavy and slightly negative when in the water. If you don't have any floatation arms, get some type of float and attach it to your housing so that you don't stress your arms too much.
  6. Use Photoshop or graduation filter. The top half of the image will always be brighter than the underwater section, and there are a few ways of balancing this. Back in the film days, graduating ND filters were used and can still be used — the only downside is that you are then forced to shoot portrait or landscape once the filter is installed. Strobes can also be used and are recommended if the underwater portion is much darker; however, it can be difficult to light the entire underwater section. The other option is to expose for the top part of the image and then tweak the underwater section in Photoshop.
  7. Keep your dome port droplet-free. Water droplets on the dome port will be one of your biggest problems, but there are a few options for reducing this. Baby shampoo can be rubbed on the dome — leave it for a while and then wash off when you start shooting. There are also certain cleaning products for car windshields that help improve the rain run-off, and these can also be used on the dome. My method is simply to use a bit of my own saliva on the dome and then dunking the dome before each shot — you'll get a good run-off before taking your shot.
  8. Choose your subjects. You don't always need amazing subjects underwater — sometimes, a clean sand beach and an amazing island is enough. The pattern of the sand and sun reflections through the waves give a pleasing shot. Think outside the box though — I have recently seen some very interesting freshwater split-level shots and even rock pools can be very effective. 
  9. Find local culture or conservation images to photograph. This method is great for cultural shots, such as seaweed farming, village fishermen in shallow waters, etc., and also conservation subjects. I have shot the rescue of a whale shark with this method and the hunting of leatherback turtles, as it was important to show the action happening above and below the water.


Shooting this type of image is great fun, and when perfected, you will find it very useful when telling stories — whether it be a simple location article or conservation piece. It is the perfect style to connect nondivers with the underwater world. 

This article is by Jason SIlay, the Managing Director of Scubazoo Images based in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Jason Isley has been shooting the underwater world for more than 15 years. Although he started as a videographer, he now concentrates on photography and manages the publication department of Scubazoo. 

Sardines are Back at Pescador Island, Moalboal, Cebu


Sardines, or pilchards, are common names used to refer to various small oily fish within the herring family of Clupeida. The term sardine was first used in English during the early 15th century and may come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant.


Sardines at Pescador Island, Moalboal

The terms sardine and pilchard are not precise, and what is meant depends on the region. The United Kingdom's Sea Fish Industry Authority, for example, classifies sardines as young pilchards. One criterion suggests fish shorter in length than 6 inches (15 cm) are sardines, and larger ones pilchards. Fishbase, a comprehensive database of information about fish, calls at least six species "pilchard", over a dozen just "sardine", and many more with the two basic names qualified by various adjectives.



Sardines use body-caudal fin locomotion swim, and streamline their body by holding their other fins flat against the body.


In the United States, the sardine canning industry peaked in the 1950s. Since then, the industry has been on the decline. The last large sardine cannery in the United States, the Stinson Seafood plant in  Prospect harbour, Maine, closed its doors on April 15, 2010 after 135 years in operation.

Pilchard fishing and processing became a thriving industry in Cornwall, England from around 1750 to around 1880, after which it went into an almost terminal decline. However, as of 2007, stocks are improving. Since 1997, sardines from Cornwall have been sold as "Cornish sardines", and since March 2010, under EU law, Cornish sardines have Protected Geographical Status  

Sardines in Moalbaol

In Moalboal we experienced large schools (like clouds) of sardines for more than three years and then they mysteriously vanished in December 2011. They were either illegally caught in nets for the fishermen’s Christmas bonus or they just decided to swim on somewhere else. There is some protection for sardines in Moalboal whilst they stay around Pescador Island which is a Marine Reserve – fishing with nets is illegal; fishing with hook and line is permitted in some parts of the island. The problem is that there is minimal active enforcement of the rules especially at night. As a result sardines are feely sold in the Moalboal fish market.

The is a plan for the Municipality for Moalboal to build a warden’s shelter on Pescador Island so that wardens can be stationed there 24 hours a day, however this has been on the planning board for several years. Funding should not be an issue as the Municipality collects a diving fee of Php 100.00 per dive at any site around Moalboal.

In 2013, the sardines have started to reappear at Pescador Island and are now in sizable schools resembling the clouds of sardines we saw 2 years ago. Some of the predator fish are also back; in particular, jacks are making a killing.

Video May 2013

Check out this video on You Tube taken by guests of Turtle Bay Dive Resort - Dirk and Srinda




Video of sardines at Pescador Island May 2013 complements of Dirk and Srinda

7 Tips for Macro Photography at Turtle Bay Dive Resort


(origianlly published in Scuba Diver July 2011)

Pygmy seahorse at Turtle Bay Dive Resort


Underwater Photography: Macro Images
With its emphasis on detail, the best underwater macro images are visually stunning. Often, underwater photographers use this format to capture miniscule marine creatures, though not always. Here’s our guide to getting the most from your underwater camera’s macro lens.

1. Backscatter Control: If you’re shooting in some popular “muck diving” destinations, the water may not be crystal-clear. Sites near shore especially can have degraded water clarity due to runoff or the sea bottom being stirred up by surge (not applicable in Moalboal as no run offs and no surge - just great macro sites). The most challenging shots for underwater cameras are dark subjects with open-water elements. In all these situations, backscatter is sometimes inevitable. Depending on the situation, you can avoid backscatter by looking for “noisy” backgrounds that can hide backscatter, using creative lighting and getting close to your subjects.

2. Focus on the Eyes: If you’re shooting an animal, such as a blenny, goby or anemonefish, make its eyes the focal point. 

3. Look For Interesting Backgrounds: Some of the loveliest macro images are because the creature is on something that provides an interesting patterned or textured background like coral polyps, kelp fronds and anemones.

4. Don’t Harass the Creature: Marine critters can be extra-sensitive to repeated, close firings from a strobe. Be courteous to the animal (and other photographers) — after you’ve gotten a few shots, move away and find another subject.

5. Watch Your Buoyancy: Some muck environments are composed of fine sand or silt and errant fin kicks can obliterate the water clarity. Always be aware of your surroundings and take care with both your dive and camera gear and keep them off the bottom and the reef. Consider taking a Perfect Buoyancy course so you can get better shots with no damage to the surrounding corals.
6. Dive with a Local: A good dive guide knows the habits of local marine life and where they live. The best critter finders are able to move from spot to spot along a muck site, pointing out their finds. Just ask our local dive-masters at Turtle Bay Dive Resort what macro critter you would like to see and, if it is at any of the sites in Moaboal, they will be happy to point it out to you.

7. Get Close: Think you’re close enough to your subject? As many pros like to say, get even closer.

Diving in the Philippines: 5 Tips for Saving Air


(originally printed in Scuba Diving September 2011)


Diver with whale shark at Oslob

Diving Tips: Saving Air

Do you breathe your tank down faster than your buddy? Here are 5 diving tips to help conserve your oxygen and extend your bottom time.

1. Fix the small leaks
Even a tiny stream of bubbles from an O-ring or an inflator swivel adds up over 40 minutes, and may be a sign of more serious trouble ahead anyway. A mask that doesn't seal is another kind of leak in that you have to constantly blow air into it to clear out the water. It's also a source of stress, which needlessly elevates your breathing rate and thereby reduces your breathing efficiency. Does your octopus free-flow easily? That can dump a lot of air quickly. Detune it or mount it carefully so the mouthpiece points downward.

2. Dive More
Inexperienced divers are famous for burning through their air supply at a furious rate, so one of the best diving tips for saving air is to simply dive more often. You may not be a new diver, but unless you dive almost every week it's still an unnatural activity. By diving more, your body will get used to the idea, and you'll breathe less.

3. Swim Slowly
The energy cost of speed is even more than you might think:  Swim half as fast as you do now, and you'll use less air.

4. Stay Shallow
Because your regulator has to deliver air at the same pressure as the water, a lungful at 33 feet (two atmospheres) takes twice as much out of your tank as does the same breath at the surface. At 99 feet (four atmospheres) it takes twice as much as at 33 feet. There's absolutely nothing you can do about that except to avoid being deeper than you have to be. If you're making a transit over an uninteresting sand flat to get to the edge of the drop-off, do it at 15 feet instead of at 40 feet, and you'll save air.

5. Minimize the Lead
If you're over-weighted, you have to put more air into your BC to float it and be neutral. The inflated BC is larger and requires more energy and oxygen to push it through the water. An extra eight pounds of lead means your BC is one gallon bigger when inflated enough to make you neutral. 

Five Things to do to Protect your Favourite Dive Site in Moalboal


By John Flanders 

 When it comes to protecting the environment, everyone wants to be politically correct and do the right thing.  However, for most people, protecting the environment requires a change in mind-set that doesn’t always blend with their day-to-day life.  We hear a lot about “your carbon footprint”, but for most normal people, that doesn’t always translate to real world action items.  However, there are many things you, an Average Joe/Josephine can do, easily, to change the way you impact the environment and most likely protect your favorite dive site.

Your Mission: Small changes over a reasonable period of time

Less Plastic!!!

the horrors of plastic in the sea

Take a look at how much plastic you use!  Plastic cups, water bottles, coffee cups, to-go containers, shopping bags, and more.  Take the next five weeks and implement a program that reduces your plastic.

  • Week 1; replace all your plastic disposable cups with reusable cups or biodegradable cups. 
  • Week 2; go out and buy a reusable “Starbucks Look-A-Like” Coffee Cup and bring that into the coffee shop to be refilled. 
  • Week 3; go to the local grocery store and buy 20 reusable shopping bags (keep them in your trunk and use them).
  • Week 4; set up recycling bins in your kitchen, bathrooms, garage and other key rooms.
  • Week 5; every time you buy something that is plastic, look for the recycled label.


Plastic bags, bottles and more are littering thousands of square miles in the world’s oceans.  It drastically impacts marine life and is killing important species.  Your five week program will help save the ocean and your favorite dive site.  Plus, you will feel great in the process.

Practice Safe Diving – Secure All Falling Equipment

SAFE diving

As a SAFE diver, you are making a commitment to minimalizing your impact when you dive.  That means you are taking only pictures and leaving only bubbles.  As a SAFE diver, you are conscious that EVERY diver impacts a dive site when they visit.  How you avoid damage depends on how you dive.  Master your buoyancy through training and pool practice.  Properly stow your gear on your person while diving.  Be conscious of your surroundings and the environment.

Following are a couple of action items: 

  • Week 1; Invest 15 minutes and set up your equipment at home or at your local dive shop.  Step back from your equipment and look at all the “dangling lines and equipment”.  Talk to your local dive shop about different clips, retractors and tie downs that can help you streamline your equipment.
  • Week 2; Reserve your space in your favorite instructor’s Buoyancy Class and take it with environmental consciousness as a goal and objective. 
  • Week 3; grab your smart phone and schedule some practice time in the local pool or lake.  The focus should be on keeping your fins off the bottom and playing the “no touch game”.  See how long you can dive and not touch the bottom.

Be Aware When Ordering Seafood

Go for vegetarian meals to protect sea life

Awareness programs like Banning Shark Finning have gone viral in today’s world of social connectivity.  It’s still a worldwide concern, however very few people would walk into a restaurant and order a bowl of shark fin soup.  However, sharks are not the only species under attack.  Many of the world’s game fish are under attack by the appetite of the world.  Making smart consumer purchases should be every diver’s responsibility. Two things you can do is

(1)   stay away from seafood that is on the endangered list; and

(2)   whenever possible, you should order seafood that was bred in a fish farm.  Consumption of farm bred fish is environmentally friendly.

Ready for your Seafood Aware action items? 

  • Week 1; Download the Seafood Watch App or PDF Card from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Web site.   Schedule a reminder on your personal calendar to update your Seafood Watch card every quarter and check for updates. 
  • Week 2; Send out a personal email or share a link on your Facebook Page to your friends and family and ask them to make conscious seafood choices.  Share the Seafood Watch card with them. 
  • Week 3; spend 3 hours and research local seafood restaurants (maybe make a few phone calls or send a few emails) and ask them if they have protocols in place to help protect endangered species on their menu.  When you find a good restaurant, tell everyone about it and vote with your wallet. 
  • Week 4; establish a vegetarian night once per week.  A great healthy and hearty way to save your favorite dive site.


Use environmentally friendly detergents

Detergents and soaps are filled with phosphates, dyes, bleach and more.  Some of these soaps and detergents are harmful to local waterways, rivers and ultimately the ocean.  Some effects of injecting these harsh chemicals into the waterways include algal blooms which reduce visibility and cover the reefs and other marine life.  The real problem is there are no government regulations for disclosing contents of detergents and soaps and you will find many of the labels are misleading and contain terms that have little to no relevance.  However, “going green” is not as hard as you think and can lead to some healthy options that extend far beyond just protecting your favorite dive site.

  • Week 1; find an “eco-friendly” washing detergent.  Do some research on the Internet and check out your local market.  Find one, at the store you usually shop at, that works for you.  If you have to make a special trip for liquid detergent, you won’t practice this regularly. 
  • Week 2; change out you dish soaps and dishwasher detergents to a “green” alternative. 
  • Week 3; post your research to Facebook or your blog and talk about your experience in making the switch

Be your own activist

protect beautiful dive sites so others can enjoy

One World – One Diver – One Change a Week – One Big Impact.  If every diver had this philosophy, our oceans would be healthier!  It’s your job to educate yourself on the environment concerns facing the oceans of the world.  It’s your passion that will drive you to be an activist.  You don’t need to march on Washington DC or give CPR to a whale to have a big effect.  Make some small changes and then find two friends to do the same.  In the end, you will be able to enjoy your dive sites for as long as you are diving.

  • Week 1; Research various ocean driven and dive centric causes.  Identify opportunities to help those foundations. 
  • Week 2; take a Project Aware course at a local dive shop.  Help rally divers to join you in that class and participate with the dive shop in creating a greater concern for the underwater environment.  Ask the dive shop to participate in donating a percentage of the revenues from that course to a greater cause. 
  • Week 3; host a charity night at a local restaurant/bar or at your house.  Put a cover charge on the event and donate the proceeds to your ocean driven charity.  Hold a raffle where people have to purchase the tickets and the proceeds benefit to the elected charity for the evening.  Maybe your local dive shop will help with the raffle.  Week 4; don’t quit after 3 weeks.

Put a plan together to help the Marine Environment on a regular basis.  One World – One Diver!

10 Tips for Night Dives at Moalboal: Well known dive Spot in Cebu




Adapted from an article by John Brumm of Sport Diver magazine

Underwater night dive



Night diving is special because even a familiar site looks different at night. When you make a day dive, you normally scan the entire dive site looking at your surroundings. At night, you see only the area of the dive site that is lit by your light. This forces you to slow down and concentrate on that one area.

Tip #1
Stay close and shallow. Night dives tend to be shallow, so you’ll have plenty of bottom time to go slow and take it all in. Colours, for example, are much more vivid on a night dive than they are during the day. It’s simple dive physics. If you’re making a daytime dive in 66 feet of water, sunlight gets absorbed, stealing away the colours. On a night dive, your light source is never more than five or 10 feet away, so the water doesn’t take away any of the light spectrum.

Tip #2
Redefine “night.” When the sun is low in the sky, very little light penetrates the surface, making it pretty dark underwater, even when there is still a fair amount of light above. Diving at dusk is a good way to start your night-diving career. You have the convenience of gearing up when it is relatively light, but get the full effect of making a night dive. On ocean dusk dives, you also have the added benefit of watching the reef creatures migrate through a kind of “shift change” as the day animals disappear and the night animals come out to play.

Tip #3
Get the right gear. You’ll need a primary dive light and a backup light. The primary light should be the larger and brighter of the two. How large and how bright? That’s up to you, and your choice may vary depending on the clarity of the water. When shopping for a light, try out several as some have different grips and handles to suit your personal preferences. Your backup – or pocket – light should be small enough to stow easily, yet bright enough to help you find your way back home. Most lights designed for this purpose are smaller and typically shaped more like a traditional flashlight. Remember, though, that if the primary light fails and you switch to your backup, it’s time to end the dive. We are reviewing dive lights later this year, but for our 2012 Editor’s Pick for Best Dive light, read about the Sola Dive 500 

Tip #4
Tie one on. Most dive lights come with a way to attach a lanyard or wrist strap. Get one. It’s cheap insurance against dropping and losing your primary source of illumination. Most dive lights are negatively buoyant; if you drop one in deep water it may be gone forever.

Tip #5
Know the signals. If there’s one aspect of night diving that is more complicated than day diving, it's communication. You and your buddy should review hand signals before entering the water and agree on the ones you'll use. You have two options: One is to shine the light on your hands so your buddy can see what you’re saying. The other is to make signals using your light. You can signal “OK” and “Yes” or “No” by moving your light in a circle, or up and down, or side to side. You can even get your buddy’s attention by circling or “lassoing” his light beam and then pulling it toward you. If you’ve practiced this beforehand, your buddy will know what you’re doing.

Should you become separated from your buddy, get vertical and shine your light outward while turning a full circle. Your buddy should do the same and chances are you’ll spot each other. If you surface far from the dive boat, point your light at the boat until you get the crew’s attention, then shine it down on your head so the crew can see you clearly.

Tip #6
Aim carefully. On any night dive, you should treat your light like a loaded gun. Never shine your light directly into another diver’s eyes — you can ruin his night vision.

Tip #7
Go easy on the light. First-time night divers tend to buy the biggest, brightest beam they can find and cling to it like a security blanket. As you gain experience diving at night and get comfortable, you’ll find smaller primary dive lights do just as well, particularly in clear water. On some night dives, lights of other divers, the boat and the moon can provide so much ambient light that you may leave your torch off for much of the dive.

If you do need a light, you may not need its full power. Some LEDs have a half-power setting you can use to dial back the brightness. Or try dimming your light by cupping your fingers over it. In any case, you’ll see more natural behaviours if you use the edge of the pool of light, not the hot spot, to pick out fish and critters.

One of the unique things about night diving in the ocean is bioluminescence. Some varieties of single-celled plankton give off light when they are disturbed underwater. Your fin kicks or a wave of your hand can create an explosion of undersea sparks, but you’ll miss the show in anything but dark conditions.

Tip #8
Do reconnaissance. Before you make your first night dive on a site, you should dive it during the day. This allows you to learn the layout of the site and get comfortable with it. 

Tip #9
Mark the way home. If you’re diving from shore, rather than from a boat, you should also place lights on the beach. It's a good idea to have two lights close together at your entry/exit point and then a third farther away. This gives you something to swim for after the dive when you're swimming back in.

Making a night dive from a boat brings with it a different set of concerns. The boat should be marked with a flashing strobe you can use to find your way back. When surfacing near the boat, shine your light toward the surface and watch carefully to avoid colliding with the hull.

Tip #10
Have fun! Most important, relax and enjoy the dive. It’s natural to be a little anxious before stepping in the dark void of an unlit ocean or lake, but it’s also exciting. When you overcome your anxieties about night diving, you get another eight hours of each precious dive day to explore and create new and lasting dive memories.

What happens if you get separated from your buddy or the boat after finishing a night dive? There’s a reason why we recommend carrying at least two safety signalling devices when you are diving at night.

Night Dives at Turtle B ay Dive Resort

We recomend three great sites for night dives at Turtle  Bay Dive Resort:

  1. Our house reef - easy shore dive, lots of special stuff including manadarin fish (just before dusk), electric clams and lots more;
  2. The Muck Dive Site by Moalboal Town pier - a lot of really unusual stuff you will not find anywhere else including star gazers; and
  3. Pescaor island - beautiful coral and a chance to see sharks come up from the depths

Underwater Photography at Turtle Bay: Hero3 Cube Red Filter


Go Pro Filter


Do have problems with the colors in your underwater photographs and videos - everything green or blue - no bright colors?

Polar Pro Filter's red filter is designed for the GoPro Hero3 camera. The red  filter color corrects for the GoPro's auto white balance. When filming  underwater, red light is not present and the GoPro does not take the lack of  red light loss into account. This can often cause videos to be too green or  too blue. Just snap on a Polar Pro red filter which will reduce excess blues  and greens therefore reinstating vibrant reef colors back into your GoPro  dive videos!

Check out our site for comparison videos and see how our simple $29.99 filter  can turn your GoPro into a production quality scuba camera.

Here is the detailed product information:
- constructed with strong optically correct Acrylic;
- filter snaps on and off seamlessly; and
- includes filter, tether, and storage bag

For more information go to: and Philippine Airline Team Up

, Asia’s leading hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group (Nasdaq:PCLN), has teamed up with Philippine Airlines (PAL) to offer customers of the Philippines’ flagship carrier access to’s inventory of over 100,000 hotels worldwide.

As the first and oldest commercial airline in Asia, Philippine Airlines has been carrying people to and from the Philippines since 1941. Now, in a world that’s more connected and engaged than ever before, the airline is pushing the limits of its online and digital capabilities. The partnership with further strengthens its international competitiveness, after the San Miguel Corporation joined the PAL management team in 2012.

As part of the new campaign, the partnership will allow Philippine Airlines customers to access fantastic hotel deals for both domestic Philippine and international destinations through a customized hotel booking page linked to PAL’s website at . The deals will mirror PAL’s global network of destinations so customers can book flights and hotels in one easy step.

“With PAL being one of the oldest and most respected airlines in the world, it’s an exciting prospect for to match PAL’s network of destinations with the best hotel deals,” said Ernst Hemmer,’s Commercial Director, “This will allow PAL’s discerning customers to book their travel requirements in an easy and convenient way.”


PAL plane


The arrangement brings the number of airline partnerships with national flag carriers to 10, not including a further 7 traditional airlines and 6 low-cost carriers. These partnerships have proven to be mutually beneficial to both companies involved, and have given customers the opportunity to add even more value to their vacations.

Treating Sea Urchin Punctures whilst Dicving the Philippines


Article by Doc Vikingo

Sea urchin punctures. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? As the name implies, punctures are deeper than stings because they stab through the skin. They can be small, like those from a sea urchin, lionfish or cone snail, to very big, such as the harpoon-like jab of a stingray, but they should all be treated seriously.

sea urchin at Turtle Bay Dive Resort


In some dive venues you can pretty much count on an urchin runin. Generally, with such punctures, there is initial intense pain that gradually diminishes over the course of a week or so with ultimate complete resolution. After tweezing out protruding spines, any remaining fragments typically will disappear through a combination of being dissolved and being encapsulated by fibrous material and forced to the surface of the skin. This can take months and there is nothing to be done to hasten the process short of surgical removal. The most important step over the healing period is to monitor carefully for infection. Be aware that urchin spines often have a dark pigment on the surface that remains in the wound after the spine is removed. This pigment does not cause pain and swelling, and should not be confused with actual spines and probed at.

Spines that have become embedded over bony prominences, within joints, or near nerves may result in complications. For example, significant swelling and pain, and even impaired strength and dexterity in areas like the hands and feet, can persist for many weeks. In these instances, surgical removal may be advised. In the event of a sea-urchin puncture, here are the steps you should take:

1. Immediately after urchin puncture, remove any spine fragments that you can reach. Tweezers can be used to snare protruding ends. Then carefully shave the area with a razor, which also can help in removing barbs. Next, scrub the area thoroughly with soap and fresh water, followed by copious flushing with fresh water.

2. The affected area(s) should be immersed in hot water (as hot as can be tolerated without burning the skin) for at least an hour and preferably more as this greatly reduces pain and swelling. Immersion can be repeated if pain recurs. Adding Epsom salts or other magnesium sulfate compound to the water may help in dissolving the spines and reducing swelling. Vinegar, or urine, are not of help.

3. Taking ibuprofen or a similar NASAID may further reduce pain and swelling. Prescription topical steroid creams may give slight additional relief, but often do little.

4. Finally, apply a topical antibiotic ointment, but don’t cover the wound. If infection develops, see a physician immediately.

BTW, there are anecdotal reports that crushing remaining spines by slapping them with a hard object has facilitated absorption. It appears that perhaps this has helped in some cases, but the fact remains that such a technique easily could drive spines deeper into tissue, potentially causing a problem requiring surgical intervention. It is not recommended.

The best advice is to always were booties in teh sea and avoid walking over the sea bed. At Turtle Bay Dive Resort we have a boat jetty so no need to wade through the sea to get to your dive boat

Planning an Vacation in the Philippines?


Announcing its ambitious target of 10 million visistors per year by 2016, the Philippines Department of Tourism (PDOT) said it plans to position the country as a “must-experience destination” in the Asia Pacific region, with the roll out of tactical marketing campaigns, promotions and other initiatives.

 Typicla Philippine fine white sand beach


“We have a very high target for visitors by 2016, but believe this is achievable. We have plans in the next few years to work closely with the hospitality industry, by focusing on market development, hosting familiarisation trips, sales missions and trainings,” said Ramon Jimenez Jr, the Philippines’ Secretary of Tourism.

Attracting 10 million visitors in 2016 would be an impressive achievement for the Philippines, as it would mark a 150% jump in tourist arrivals in just five years. In 2011 the country attracted 3.92 million international visitors – itself a new record – and is expected to break the four million barrier this year. In the first nine months of 2012, the Philippines had welcomed 3.15 million tourists – up 9% year-on-year.

The recently-launched tourism marketing campaign, ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’, combined with increased air access, could make the target achievable. Resurgent national carrier Philippine Airlines, which secured investment from the San Miguel brewery earlier this year, has placed orders for dozens of new aircraft, while low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific is also growing rapidly in the international market. Both airlines are planning to expand into the long-haul market in 2013, with routes to Australia, the Middle East, North America and Europe being discussed. Any direct European services however, would be dependent on the European Commission removing restrictions on Philippine carriers, all of which are currently banned from flying in EU airspace.

The PDOT is committing to its marketing strategy. It recently created a new tourism video to back up the ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’, highlighting key tourism destinations such as Palawan, Cebu and Boracay, and is also creating online promotional games.

Have you palnned your Philippine vacation so you can experince "More Fun in the Philippines"?

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