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November 19, 2020

A Dive Down Memory Lane

Months after the expedition, we asked Oceana’s Senior Campaign Manager Danny Ocampo to look back at his favorite photos from Panaon Island. It wasn’t an easy task given how biodiverse Panaon’s reefscape is, but Danny lists down his three photos and anecdotes that go with it.  

Since returning to dry land a couple of weeks ago after the expedition, I only managed to sneak in one dive since I was very busy catching up with multiple things at a time: my work in Oceana as the campaign leader to stop illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters, helping in relief operations for those affected by typhoon in Mabini and Tingloy in Batangas, and continuing with my animal welfare advocacy.  

We dove in front of our place in San Jose, Mabini, Batangas. This stretch of mostly sand, rubble, and rocks with a few coral aggregations is known as “Basura” because this part of Janao Bay is where garbage accumulates during habagat season. The water was turbid, and visibility was only around 5 meters. Having done so many dives in generally clear waters and seeing good coral cover, I had to adjust my eyes and my brain to conditions in Mabini where we usually hunt for critters for macro photography.  

Looking back at the photos I took in Panaon Island, I chose three of my favorites from the hundreds I took.  

Esperanza Dos Reef (outside MPA)  

This is a photo of a massive colony of tabular corals stretching to around 5 meters with several layers as well. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Finding it in a shallow area outside a marine protected area attests to generally good condition of reefs in Panaon Island.  

Cuasi Marine Protected Area  

Although diversity is an important characteristic of any coral reef, this vast stretch of delicate branching corals is mind-boggling because they are perfectly intact and hardly have any broken corals in this marine protected area. Although the photo shows a stand of larger branching corals, the rest are smaller bottle brush acropora.  

Sta. Paz Norte MPA  

Before coming to Panaon Island, Marianne requested me to take photos of frogfishes aside from taking good photos of corals. When we spotted this frogfish happily perched on a sponge, I snapped a few photos and waited for Dr. Edna de Castro to swim by wearing her nice Oceana Panaon Island expedition rash guard.