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The Dona Marilyn, Philippines dive site - Courtesy of Rik Vercoe

Sweepers on the Dona Marilyn, Philippines dive site - Courtesy of Rik Vercoe

Cuttlefish on the Dona Marilyn, Philippines dive site - Courtesy of Rik Vercoe

Whip coral on the Dona Marilyn, Philippines dive site - Courtesy of Rik Vercoe

Scuba Diving in Malapascua Island, Cebu, the Philippines

Reader Reviews:

Dive Site: Dona Marilyn

Location: Malapascua Island, Cebu

Description: Passenger ferry

Length: 98 metres (322 feet)

Depth: 21 metres (69 feet) to masts, 33 metres (108 feet) to seabed

Visibility: 15 metres (50 feet)

Rating: ****

The Dona Marilyn was a Filipino passenger ferry which sank on 23rd October 1988. So in wreck terms she's a reasonably recent addition to the dive sites available in the Philippines. A 98 metre, inter-island ferry, she was en-route from Manila to Tacloban when 130 knot winds and 12 metre waves pounded her to the seabed. The typhoon responsible was Typhoon Ruby and her fury flooded the floundering vessel causing engine failure. Dona Marilyn, unable to contend with the onslaught sank beneath the waves and came to rest in 33 metres of water on her starboard side. Largely intact, save the inevitable erosion of her decking, her masts are now located at 21 metres running parallel to the seabed 12 metres below.

Currents during our dives here were of medium strength and tended to sweep from the bow / keel side towards the stern / deck side. When diving the Dona Marilyn the dive boats lay a shot line into the wreck and the descent can be a little longer than necessary due to the additional line the boats let out. Once on the wreck it's easy to hide from the current and have a very relaxing dive. It's also possible to do the entire length of the wreck depending on your air consumption. We dived stern to bow / deck side and used the vessel itself to shield us from and current, which became apparent only if you ventured on top of the wreck (port side of the ship). There is a very healthy growth of soft coral on this seventeen year old wreck (a testament to the current which provide nutrients). Glassfish and sweeper fill the many nooks and crannies underneath the deck beams. One to two feet long cuttlefish can be seen relaxing under the portside overhang and starfish have made this home here. Where the ship meets the sandy seabed white-tip sharks are reported to sleep and large sand rays are regularly sighted, although we did not see either on our dives.

Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor

My wife lost her family on the Dona Marilyn I'm sad to say. I wonder if anyone has more pics of it please could they let me know.


We dived on an organised dive to Dona Marilyn from Malapascua.
Enigmatic dive giving us the chance to take many pictures.

Erwin Hesselink

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