Exploring the Balicasag Marine Sanctuary: Bohol Diving



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Although I don’t get there very often, Balicasag Marine Sanctuary in Bohol is one of my favorite spots for underwater photos besides Apo Island. I’m especially fond of taking photos of the clown fish that live in the distinctive green anemones in the Black Forest section of the island. In May, Kris and Kristen came through the Visayas and we met up for a reunion dive there.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Before heading out to Balicasag I stopped by the BQ (Bohol Quality) mall in Tagbilaran and happened to catch this booty-shake dance performance in front of a small crowd of very polite spectators.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    The pollution is pretty bad in Tagbilaran, so Daniel Simon used a dust mask to keep the airways clean. But as Kristen points out, it does have a porcine resemblance.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Daniel performed a bit of Vaudeville contortionism to entertain everyone before we went to sleep.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Kris and Kristen reenacted the pajama wetsuit photo pose from our scuba class over a year ago with Holger Horn.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    After poling the pump boat out a short distance from shore we were on our way to the Balicasag Marine Sanctuary.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    On the way to Balicasag.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    The deep water off shore is usually an incredible shade of blue.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    This crowded boat of fishermen paddled towards Panglao Island.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    A quick pause on the outriggers to get the equipment straight, and then we were set to dive into Balicasag's "Black Forest".

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    A dense seagrass bed covers the first part of the dive before you get to the dropoff of the coral wall.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    A gloppy-looking nudibranch slurped along on the blades of grass.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    At the edge of the coral wall, this large school of barracudas cruised menacingly, though they seemed more scared of us than we were of them.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    As we drifted past, the school of them vanished into the blue.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Of course my favorite photo subjects at Balicasag are its feisty clown fish.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    The current was really strong on this dive and it pushed up the iridescent purple underside of this anemone.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    I liked this shot of the starfish and soft coral.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Our dive guide pointed out this tiny stone fish, probably still poisonous just like its larger sized relatives.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    We stopped for lunch on the great beach at Balicasag.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Definitely good to find some shade from the tropical sun while you eat there though.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    The water in the shallows is sometimes so clear it looks almost like the little outrigger bangka boats are levitating in the air.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    I used a little detachable strobe flash to light this sea fan from behind and bring out the bright colors.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Just like Apo, Balicasag is loaded with bewildering numbers and variety of tropical fish.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    I used the little detachable strobe flash to light this bubble coral dramatically from underneath.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    These wormy critters were crawling all over this sponge for some reason.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    This mantis shrimp peered out cautiously from behind its coral home.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    They're kind of gangly, but good photo subjects.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Here's another gloppy nudibranch slurping its way along the coral wall.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Here's another mantis shrimp that was hiding among the corals.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Red grouper (known locally as a lapu-lapu) like this one can often be found in the caves formed by the overhanging coral wall.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Sometimes within the shallower depths of the dives on Balicasag you can get a nice balance between the natural light and the flash from the camera that fills in the colors of the clown fish nicely.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    Here's a close-up of the clown fish against the background of the bright red underside of the anemone.

  • Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005

    Balicasag Marine Sanctuary - May 2005
    To cap off the great day on Balicasag we had a rare trip to McDonald's for some french fries.