An advanced dive that requires a good dive guide to allow for the currents to sweep you into position. Racing over several small drop-offs below the Hole in the Wall covered in soft corals and sponges, you can duck into and one of the Canyons for a respite from the current. There is much to find on the bottom but primarily it is the large schools of snapper, emperors, sweetlips, barracudas, jacks, trevally and occasional sharks that make this an exciting dive. The dive ends at a 1½m/5' anchor embedded in the coral, where the group can gather before being swept off to the safety stop in the current. Excellent Nitrox dive. The most popular dive site in Puerto Galera – you'll want to go back time after time.
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The channel slopes off gently to a sandy bottom, and in the shallows staghorn coral is abundant, along with large tree corals, sea fans and basket sponges. There is a huge variety of small tropical fish in this area. Anemones with their clown fish families, yellow tail and cleaner wrasse, parrotfish and triggerfish are all common, and if you have a good eye, frogfish can be found camouflaged in the corals. It is best to dive this site on the ebb tide when currents will assist you traveling, this can be a nice drift inside the channel.
Clown Frogfish / Anglerfish (Antennariidae)
There are two sure-fire ways to avoid getting bent: Do not dive and do not ascend.
Serious DCS (Decompression sickness) or DCI (Decompression Illness) or whatever the favored term is for the moment has happened to your friend… or maybe to the friend of a friend. It doesn't have to be an up close and personal kind of acquaintance. Somehow, within a generally small diving community, you do find out about someone getting hit and the usual (unkind, at best) remark goes something like these: "what did he do wrong", "was he showing off?", "was he licensed to dive?", to name a few. The thing is, and I bet you know what I'm about to say, as it has been said much too often. It can happen to anyone and it can happen to you!
Photo © Gunther Deichmann
True, it is a rare animal, but it knows no race and it knows no religion and it certainly knows no level of dive certification. Will anything you do or not do guarantee a bends-free dive? Again, you know the answer to that. NONE. But it certainly helps to know a few do’s and don’ts to try and minimize the occurrence of this sorry affliction.
First, the cliche (ho-hum): Plan your dive and dive your plan. "LET'S GO OVER THERE" just won't cut it. It isn’t a plan. It's a disaster waiting to happen. Next, be physically and mentally fit to dive. Being grossly obese or having a terrible cold or a hangover or getting astronomically pissed off with your astronomical sales quota in the office just doesn't make you seaworthy. Cancel that dive!
Stay young. If that's not at all possible, at least know and accept that you are older than last year. Dive conservatively Add a penalty or two. Don't test the limits of your tables or your computer.
Stay cool. And of course you know the best way to avoid panicking under or above water: Be well trained and well conditioned for your planned dives.
Descend slowly, ascend slowly, go shallow, make shorter dives, and make fewer dives. Rest after your dives. Drink lots of water. Don’t take a hot bath, go up a mountain, or fly so soon after diving. Above all, be sensible.
Note however that some are just more susceptible to DCS than others and a medical evaluation to check for predisposing causes, such as a patent foramen oval should be worthwhile.
Fun dives are good, planned dives are better, and bent-free dives are certainly best!
The dive starts in shallow water (about 5m/17ft) on a beautiful reef, alive with hard and soft corals, hundreds of small tropical fish like anthias, damsels, butterflyfish and many more. The reef slopes off to a sandy bottom and as you follow the contours of the reef on a flood tide, clear water from the Verde Passage helps you drift into the channel. Here the reef drops off to around 18m/59ft past a small wall covered with sea fans and whip corals. At the end of this wall the reef slopes back up to shallow water, where basket sponges, sea fans and green tree corals predominate. This site is best for diving during flood and high tide.
Basslets (Pseudanthias dispar) - Photo courtesy: Pacific Divers