Little and Large at Sardine City, Moalboal
Travel Guide that appeared in Singapore Expat Living
Divers – especially those who are keen photographers – are
drawn to rare underwater sights. Moalboal, in the Philippine
province of Cebu, offers a great opportunity to dive with (and
film) the ocean’s biggest fish and some of its biggest shoals.
Chris White of Turtle Bay Dive Resort tells us more
about these two unusual Moalboal dive experiences.
Photograph by Tim Digger
Let’s start with the big boys. The
entrepreneurial fishermen of Tan-awan
Oslob in Cebu – a previously sleepy
little fishing village just 77 kilometres
from Moalboal – discovered in 2011
that when they fed visiting whale sharks
a daily supply of krill (their natural diet) it
was enough of a temptation to convince
them to stick around. This soon caught
the attention of the international media
and all of a sudden Oslob was on the
world dive map.
The attraction for divers is that they
are guaranteed an up-close encounter
with many whale sharks (mature adults
and juveniles) every day of the year from
a shore-entry dive. The whale sharks are
also accessible to snorkellers and even
passengers in paddle boats operated by
the local municipality.
While fish feeding is a controversial
topic, frowned upon by many naturalists
as it can disrupt the natural behaviour of
fish, the whale sharks in Oslob are well
protected, with strict rules in place for all
divers and snorkellers, and are now the
subject of scientific study.
Moving down to the other end of the
spectrum, for a number of years (with
a few gaps in between) divers in
Moalboal have been able to experience
diving among the swirling clouds of
sardines that have made Moalboal
their temporary home, and provided its
nickname of “Sardine City”.
They started out at Pescador Island but
later, inexplicably moved to Panagsama
Beach, Moalboal, where they swim
just metres from the shore. Not only can
divers witness the countless sardines
swimming in formation with the sunlight
flashing off their scales, but they will also
see the many predator fish attracted by
a free meal – schools of jacks, needle
fish and, occasionally, thresher sharks.
at Sardine City
The family-run Turtle Bay Dive Resort
has 28 air-conditioned rooms set in
landscaped tropical gardens, facing
the bay at Moalboal. Relax around
the lagoon pool, or enjoy a soothing
massage between dives.