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Aggressor Adventures announces Philippines Aggressor maiden voyage

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Aggressor Adventures has announced its newest liveaboard yacht the Philippines Aggressor launches her maiden voyage April 9, 2022. While there are thousands of superb dive sites throughout the 7640 islands, Philippines Aggressor’s guests will focus on scuba diving cruises to Tubbataha Atoll and Visayas/Cebu regions. These islands and their surrounding waters have long been a premier destination for scuba diving, and now Aggressor Adventures will provide divers access to these remote areas while also providing legendary Aggressor service.

The beautiful new, 135-foot Philippines Aggressor yacht offers Tubbataha cruises departing from Puerto Princesa, Palawan exploring the Tubbataha Atoll. A seven-night cruise includes Tubbataha Reefs National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protecting over 350 species of coral and almost 500 species of fish in an area of approximately 100,000 hectares at the center of the Sulu Sea. Whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and Napoleon wrasse are among the species found here. This healthy reef ecosystem supports legendary diving and encounters often include hammerhead sharks, manta rays, Moorish idols, Napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, eels and more.

There are several Visayas cruise options departing from the Mactan/Cebu or Dauin/Dumaguete areas to experience some of the best diving in the region. The Visayas itinerary will be available for either seven or ten nights. The area provides opportunities for divers to see thresher sharks, huge schools of sardines, and whale sharks, while Dauin is a photographer’s delight with macro, black sands dives. Siquijor Island boasts endless visibility along soft corals walls. This signature “360-degree” cruise includes a parade of exotic islands – Cebu, Cabilao, Balicasag, Sumilon, Pescador, Malapascua, Kalanggaman, Camotes, Pamilacan, and Panglao Islands.

“Bringing divers to the spectacular Philippines has long been a goal of ours. We are very happy to officially announce that the Philippines Aggressor will launch in April 2022” says the company’s CEO Wayne Brown.

The Philippines Aggressor liveaboard will pamper 24 guests with 15 staff in the same luxury and signature amenities that Aggressor Liveaboards has been offering around the world for the past 38 years. Itineraries include diving daily, onboard accommodations, gourmet meals and snacks, soft beverages, and local alcohol. On the main and upper decks, seven staterooms have panoramic windows.

For more information, call Toll Free: 1 800-348-2628 (USA/CAN), +1-706-993-2531 or email pha@aggressor.com.

Source: www.divenewswire.com

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Komodo National Park found to be Manta Hotspot

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Through a collaborative effort between citizen divers, scientists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), and Murdoch University, a new study reports a large number of manta rays in the waters of Komodo National Park, Indonesian, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suggesting the area may hold the key to regional recovery of the threatened species.

Reef mantas (Mobula alfredi), which grow up to 5m, tend to reside and feed in shallow, coastal habitats. They also visit ‘cleaning stations’ on coral reefs to have parasites, or dead skin picked off by small fish. Courtship ‘trains’ are also observed adjacent to cleaning stations. In Komodo National Park, manta rays are present year-round, challenging the famous Komodo dragon as the most sought-after megafauna for visitors.

Scientists teamed up with the dive operator community to source identification photographs of manta rays visiting the parks’ waters and submit them to MantaMatcher.org – a crowdsourced online database for mantas and other rays. Most of the photographs came from just four locations from over 20 commonly visited by tourism boats.

I was amazed by how receptive the local dive community was in helping collect much-needed data on these threatened animals,” said lead author Dr. Elitza Germanov. “With their support, we were able to identify over 1,000 individual manta rays from over 4,000 photographs.

People love manta rays—they are one of the most iconic animals in our oceans. The rise of the number of people engaging in SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and the advent of affordable underwater cameras meant that photos and videos taken by the public during their holidays could be used to quickly and affordably scale data collection,” said MMF co-founder and study co-author Dr. Andrea Marshall.

The photographs’ accompanying time and location data is used to construct sighting histories of individual manta rays, which can then be analyzed with statistical movement models. These models predict the likelihood that manta rays are inhabiting or traveling in between specific sites. The study’s results showed that some manta rays moved around the park and others as far as the Nusa Penida MPA (>450 km to the west), but overall, manta rays showed individual preferences for specific sites within the Park.

I found it very interesting how some manta rays appear to prefer spending their time in some sites more than others, even when sites are 5 km apart, which are short distances for manta rays,” said Dr. Elitza Germanov. “This means that manta rays which prefer sites where fishing activities continue to occur or that are more popular with tourism will endure greater impacts.”

Fishing activities have been prohibited in many coastal areas within Komodo NP since 1984, offering some protection to manta rays prior to the 2014 nationwide protection. However, due to illegal fishing activity and manta ray movements into heavily fished waters, manta rays continue to face a number of threats from fisheries. About 5% of Komodo’s manta rays have permanent injuries that are likely the result of encounters with fishing gear.

The popularity of tourism to these sites grew by 34% during the course of the study. An increase in human activity can negatively impact manta rays and their habitats. In 2019, the Komodo National Park Authority introduced limits on the number of boats and people that visit one of the most famous manta sites.

This study shows that the places where tourists commonly observe manta rays are important for the animals to feed, clean, and mate. This means that the Komodo National Park should create measures to limit the disturbance at these sites,” said Mr. Ande Kefi, an employee of the Komodo National Park involved with this study. “I hope that this study will encourage tourism operators to understand the need for the regulations already imposed and increase compliance.”

Despite Indonesia’s history with intensive manta ray fisheries, Komodo National Park still retains large manta ray aggregations that with careful ongoing management and threat reduction will benefit regional manta ray populations. The study highlights that marine protected areas that are large enough to host important manta ray habitats are a beneficial tool for manta ray conservation.

For more information about MMF visit their website here.

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Magic Resorts: ready to welcome you back to the Philippines

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Magic Resorts are finally able to welcome you back to their two renowned dive resorts in the Visayas (Central Philippines), after the Philippines reopened its borders last February after 2 years of pandemic.

Both resorts, Magic Island Dive Resort in Moalboal, Cebu and Magic Oceans Dive Resort in Anda, Bohol, are fully operational and were able to survive the lockdown that lasted for 2 years in the Philippines. When the reopening of the Philippines was announced, both resorts underwent a big renovation and restoration to be able to offer the same quality of service as guests could previously expect.

With the same staff members still in their positions, offering the world-famous Filipino hospitality with their welcoming smiles, Magic Island and Magic Oceans are ready again to offer an unforgettable diving holiday. Dive master Manuel (also known as Mani) and Jason, didn’t lose their eye for detail and can still find the smallest critters around Moalboal and the notorious mating Mandarin Fish on Magic Island’s house reef. Of course, the tasty mocktails after your dives in Magic Oceans will be served by the lovely bar lady Esther, whilst the popular singing chef, is preparing the most delicious food to finish off a perfect holiday. Great diving, great service – that’s the ultimate Magic experience!

Magical diving

All the dive enthusiasts from America and Europe who already took advantage of the reopening of the Philippines and spent their diving holiday at one of the Magic Resorts, have been warmly welcomed, not only by the staff, but also by the marine life around Moalboal and Anda. The first passing Whale Sharks, jumping Thresher Sharks, mating Mandarin Fish and even mating Flamboyant Cuttlefish have been spotted! Everybody is excited to see happy divers again after such a long time.

Entering the Philippines

On February 11, the first day of the reopening, the first hundreds of foreign tourists entered the Philippines. Since then, 100,000 tourists have entered the country to enjoy a tropical holiday, for most of them a long-awaited trip. If you bring your valid passport, return ticket, proof of covid-vaccination, a negative test (PCR/antigen) and an insurance coverage for costs for covid-treatment, you may enter the country. A continuous smooth course of the tourist flow may lead to the lifting of some of the requirements really soon!

Get ready for your unforgettable diving holiday at Magic Resorts and book your holiday with some great opening discounts: email reservations@magicresorts.online for details!

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