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…
In this post, we chat with Norman M. Lopez from Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards who feature in our publication Philippines Dive Adventures – download your FREE copy here!
What is your name?
Norman M. Lopez
What is the name of your business?
Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards
What is your role within the business?
Dive Shop Team Leader
How long has the business operated for?
More than 25 years.
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
More or less about 14 years. Currently an active PADI Instructor.
What is your favorite type of diving?
Mostly reef diving and also interested in wreck diving, muck diving and drift 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?
Arrive as a Guest, Leave as a Friend.
What is your favorite dive in your location and why?
The Canyons. Well known for drift diving with its abundance of different varieties of soft and hard corals, and home for either solitary or schooling big fish.
What types of diving are available in your location?
Reef diving, wreck diving, muck diving, wall diving and also some places for technical diving.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
The ocean is my office. I get to see it mostly everyday, while scuba diving and teaching courses.
What is your favourite underwater creature?
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
It will be a big challenge for all of us at this time however we will find a way to make it better as we slowly move on and get to a new beginning.
As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
Coronavirus and the Pandemic.
Is your center involved in any environmental work?
We work with the local dive shop association on clean-ups and alike, and have also hosted the California Academy of Science.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?
We should work together to protect the environment and encourage younger people to get involved in diving.
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
There is almost nowhere on the planet like Puerto Galera – the most biodiverse part of the coral triangle just a five minute boat ride from the resort.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for details!