In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…
What is your name?
What is the name of your business?
El Galleon Resort/Asia Divers
What is your role within the business?
Marketing Manager/PADI Instructor
How long has the business operated for?
Over 33 years
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
Over 33 years. PADI IDC Staff Instructor. I have done training for Tech and Rebreather as well.
What is your favorite type of diving?
I enjoy all kinds of diving but I really do get a thrill out of a good drift dive. Also recently I’ve become very interested in Blackwater diving.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
Wow…I can tell you so much about our business as I’ve worked here for more than 20 years! I think the main thing to know is that Puerto Galera has amazing biodiversity. Puerto Galera is one of the leading scuba diving locations in the Philippines, offering some of the best diving in Asia. We are located in “The Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor” (VIP) which is known as “the center of the center of marine biodiversity”, the heart of the Coral Triangle. There is no better place to experience this than our spacious dive centre and beachfront resort.
What is your favorite dive in your location and why?
After more than 25 years and 11,000 dives in Puerto Galera I would have to say that out of all the amazing dive sites here I am truly enthralled by The Canyons. This is Puerto Galera’s signature dive site and divers come here from all over the world to get that big “WOW” moment diving it. The Canyons is well known because it’s quite often an exciting heart-pumping drift dive that brings out all the bigger schools of bigger fishes and you can really get that feeling of flying.
What types of diving are available in your location?
We’re so lucky in Puerto Galera to have so many different types of diving including amazing drifts, gorgeous reefs, wreck, fantastic macro and of course one of the most spectacular dive sites in the world, Verde Island. Our Blackwater diving is getting more popular as well. We have had many world class underwater photographers coming here because of the biodiversity and variety of diving offered. Asia Divers is a PADI Career Development centre and is well known for its high standard of teaching across all PADI courses, from Bubblemakers for kids to Divemaster and Instructor level courses. We keep new divers happy on easier dives but we also have more challenging dives for experienced divers. For those who like to go a step further, we have a technical diving operation, Tech Asia.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
I love to meet people from all over the world and I’m very proud to introduce them to the underwater beauty of Puerto Galera.
What is your favorite underwater creature?
Ha ha….I love so many creatures and critters, but lately I’ve become fascinated by salps. I come from an art and design background and I’m always searching for colours, shapes and textures in the ocean.
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
With the “new normal”, our guest’s well-being and comfort is our priority at El Galleon Resort and Asia Divers. All considerations for health, safety and enjoyment are already in place throughout the resort.
Luckily being located right on the ocean and not in a busy area, we have lots of space and room for everyone to enjoy their stay and dive in a relaxing and safe way. It’s very easy to practice social distancing in our resort and dive center. El Galleon has implemented a 3-step room sanitizing process, with disinfectant fogging as one of the steps and many other steps to ensure everyone’s safety.
As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
COVID -19 has affected the whole world and tourism took a major hit here. Right now of course it’s getting tourism back to the Philippines, safely. We have everything in place; we just need the government to lift travel bans and to allow people to travel here.
Is your center involved in any environmental work?
Asia Divers has been actively involved in the Project Aware International Clean up day and conduct underwater clean-up dives at least once a month as we are involved in Project AWARE Adopt a dive site. All candidates who are in training to become instructors at Asia Divers learn how to organise Project AWARE Dive Against Debris and use the data to change habits. We also report our data is great detail so it can be used for policy development. Throughout the years we have been working along with local schools for environmental education conducting beach clean-ups along with presentations about environmental awareness.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?
We’re lucky here that not only can people go scuba diving, but it’s also fantastic for snorkelling. Freediving is gaining allot more interest and I can see that this is an area which will grow in the coming years. Puerto Galera has pristine corals and lots of fish to keep everyone interested in the aquatic world.
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
El Galleon Dive Resort and its dive centre, Asia Divers, have everything you need to experience the best of Puerto Galera. Located on a serene and quaint beachfront fronting Small Lalaguna Beach the resort has 30 air-conditioned rooms that have been constructed in the tropical hillside with stunning views of Sabang Bay and Small Lalaguna Beach. The restaurant extends to the water’s edge, offering a great value in international cuisine. Puerto Galera is one of the leading scuba diving locations in the Philippines, offering some of the best diving in Asia and there is no better place to experience this than at our spacious dive centre. We are the only dive center in Puerto Galera with a private pier and diving platform and of course you’ll get spoiled by our friendly and outgoing team!
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
Komodo National Park found to be Manta Hotspot
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.
Magic Resorts: ready to welcome you back to the Philippines
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!
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 email@example.com for details!