Fishies and phoneography

First off, a big WHOOHOO!!! for being included in The Daily Post’s phoneography favorites for March! The staff chose my “My Neighborhood” post to include in the roundup of their favorite entries. It always feel good to be recognized πŸ™‚

Second: one good thing about working in an island resort is that the water is only a couple of meters away πŸ™‚ Beat the summer heat this afternoon by diving our house reef. I used having to download my water temperature sensor data as an excuse. Heehee. That and I volunteered to take photos of one of our guests doing his Bubblemaker course πŸ™‚ Aside from taking pictures of a 9-year-old during his first scuba experience, I also got to take some pretty good pictures of our resident bigeye scad (Selar crumenopthalmus). Swimming through a school of fish who totally ignored my presence was a surreal experience. I tried moving away so that I could take better wide-angle photos but nothing doing. The water was just too shallow and the school was just too big!

Fish in the light
fish01_small

Window through the darkness
fish02_small

Just might become one of my all-time favorite photos.
fish03_small

I said on Facebook that I wish I had extra-clear water for that perfect shot. Jayvee said that the water was already pretty clear. It was pretty clear but you could still see some backscatter. He said I should get strobes. I said he should give me the money for them πŸ˜›

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

Can I just say how much I LOVE this theme? Because seriously. FOOD! I love food! Our family’s life literally revolves around food. I love smelling it, I love watching people cook, and most of all, I love eating it! Confession time: I don’t cook πŸ˜› This week’s phoneography challenge was to document “lunchtime”. Another confession: I don’t like taking pictures of cooked food. Once food is served on the table, it’s meant to be eaten. I give the Glare of Death whenever my dining companions make me wait while they use their smartphones to take photos of our food. So how do you document “lunchtime” without taking photos of your lunch? By taking photos of what goes in it, of course!

The resort I work for grows its own salad greens! We have around eight greenhouses on the Palawan mainland where we grow Red Rapid lettuce, Curly Green lettuce, and arugula. These are the baby lettuce. Give them 30 days and they’re good to harvest and serve!
03 growing lettuce

We also prefer to buy locally caught fish. Of course, the fish shouldn’t be of the endangered variety and should have been caught using passive gear, like nets and fishing lines. I took this photo while this fish was being delivered to us.
02 fresh fish

And finally, we also have an organic farm! This is where we grow string beans, eggplant, bitter gourd, tomatoes, watermelon, sweet melon, mangoes, and lots and lots of other goodies and yes, pineapples too!
01 growing pineapple

What does your lunch look like? πŸ™‚

Shark spotting in El Nido!

This post is going to be a wee bit emotional because OH MY GOD WE SPOTTED LOTS OF BLACKTIP REEF SHARKS WHILE SNORKELING!

An actual black tip reef shark!

This is a blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus). The blacktip reef shark is one of the most common sharks in the coastal areas of the Indo-Pacific. It (quite obviously) gets its name from the black tips on all of its fins. It feeds mostly on small bony fishes but also on squid, octopus, shrimp, sea snakes, and seabird chicks that fall into the water.

We spotted the sharks at low tide on a shallow reef here in El Nido. I’m not telling where exactly. Kuya Rey spotted the first shark within 10 minutes of us arriving at the snorkeling area. It was a small one but just seeing it was freaking awesome! We also found a group of 10 sharks of various sizes, with the largest at 1.5 meters. Oh yeah! Unfortunately, it turned out that we wore the wrong outfits to the party. Our rashguards were orange and red, in start contrast to the blue ocean and brown corals *facepalm*. The sharks swam away as soon as they spotted us. Next time I go snorkeling with sharks (tomorrow?), I’m wearing something blue or black.

More explorations of the Miniloc house reef

I got to take the G12 for its second dive yesterday when the Community Ecology (Comeco) Lab crew came over to Miniloc to check the house reef. Yay friends visiting my workplace! Still had difficulty manipulating the camera to get the look I wanted (so many buttons!) but it was a bit easier this time around. Hopefully it’ll become second nature by the time the 5th dive comes around? Haha!

This surgeonfish is feeding on the turfing algae on the rock. Tentative identification is lined bristletooth (Ctenochaetus striatus)
Renmar dubbed this "The Big Ball of Awesome". This is what the school of bigeye scad (Selar crumenophthalmus) looks like from below.
A schooling bannerfish (Heniochus acuminatus) with no school πŸ™

Today’s money shot is brought to you by:

A blue-spotted stingray (Taeniura lymma) getting cleaned by a cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)

Too bad about the suspended particles πŸ™

This would have been the money shot if the parrotfish just stood still for one second more:

A parrotfish (can't tell which species) getting cleaned by a cleaner wrasse

Testing out our new toy

Aside from being Aids’ birthday and Valentine’s Day, February 14 also marked the day our department got our brand-spanking-new Ikelite underwater housing for our Canon G12. YAHOOOOO!!! Unfortunately, Kring was too afraid of wrecking itΒ  (and the camera) to actually test it out. Fortunately, I have no such fear πŸ˜›

I tested the camera and housing this morning on a dive on the Miniloc house reef and it was glorious. As with all new gadgets, it took some getting used to. For one thing, the camera itself was unfamiliar. Haha. The G12’s been with Kring since it arrived last year so today was the first time I’d actually used it for an extended period of time. Case in point: I plugged in the strobe plug in the camera’s hotshoe. The thing is, I didn’t have a strobe. HAHA. End result: I disabled the on-camera flash and left myself with no other light source *facepalm* Second, the housing is humongous compared to the Canon S95 ultracompact housing that I’m used to. You need both hands to operate it – not easy when you’re trying to line up your shot and the current has other things in mind. Ah well.Β  Every dive is a learning experience πŸ™‚

I did manage to take some decent photos:

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans). General rule of the ocean: if it's colorful and moves slowly, it's dangerous.
Giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis). This guy can reach up to 1.7 meters long!
Bigeye scad (Selar crumenophthalmus). They're not particularly colorful but they're pretty impressive when you see them in schools.

Here’s to more outings with our new toy!

The AWESOMEST day of 2012 thus far

So. What happened today that made it so freaking awesome? This:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa8j7BHax8M]

Yep, that is a freaking WHALE SHARK (Rhincodon typus) in front of Miniloc Island Resort. You can hear our excited squeals in the video πŸ˜› Now, people have been spotting these whale sharks all around the bay starting December 2011 but those sightings tapered off in late January and this is my first time to see one. And I got to swim with it! How? I jumped into the water, not caring that I was in my full work uniform. No mask, no snorkel, no fins. Melo (one of our dive masters) was kind enough to lend me his mask so I could see. I swam with it for a good 10 minutes, treading water and realizing that I am severely out of shape. Sigh. It also wasn’t until later when I remembered that our uniform shorts turn transparent when wet >_< Raymond was kind enough not to say anything and just handed me a towel to wear around my waist until I got cleaned up.

The second part of what made this day awesome: my entry making it to the top 5 of the Philippine Travel Operators Association (PhilTOA) poster-making contest. YAY!!!! My entry:

Our company actually got 2 out of the 5 slots – our other entry featured my friend and coworker Rima’s turtle photo and my caption. Not bad for two Bio majors with no formal art-related training πŸ˜› DOT Secretary Jimenez will be choosing the Top 3. I hope we win (and the prizes are awesome)! πŸ˜€