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Scuba Diving in Malapascua Island, Cebu, the Philippines
Dive Site: Tapilon
Location: Malapascua Island, Cebu
Description: WWII Japanese cargo vessel
Depth: 24 - 32 metres (79 - 105 feet)
Visibility: 15 metres (50 feet)
Located around 40 minutes by boat from Malapascua the wreck, or rather wreckage, of the Tapilon makes for a great dive. This WWII Japanese cargo vessel is very broken up and lies mainly in 3 main sections each of which have been subject to the salvage efforts of Hookah divers. The seabed is at 30 metres making this accessible to the Hookah (Hookah is a term which refers to a system that delivers air to divers via a long hose. It has been a system used for many years where locals free-dive down to wreckage and breath through a small gauge hose (much like a garden hose) which has a small compressor which pumps air to the divers below. It is often used to salvage to depth of 30 metres and has even been reported as deep as 60 metres where unsuspecting and uneducated locals return to the surface to experience serious cases of DCI). Over the years the Hookah divers have hacked, sawn and quite literally ripped various pieces of the Tapilon away and hoisted then to the surface. Worth nothing in European currency, the bits retrieved would have been sold off for a few pesos, traded, or used to make other parts.
None the less the Tapilon is an excellent dive. Spread over the seabed between 24 and 32 metres depth and covering up to 75 square metres she is home to a myriad of sealife. Huge soft corals reach out from her twisted steel plates towards the surface above. Small yellow seahorses seek refuge amongst the coral and large stonefish camouflage themselves against metal girders. During our diving here we were subject to the serene dance of a large black and white banded sea snake, which slithered through the wreckage before spiralling upward in open water towards the surface. A group of 5 healthy sized remoras followed us throughout our dive indicating perhaps the nearby presence of rays or sharks. Current could definitely be a consideration here as the broken wreck is very low lying relative to the sea floor so diving at slack water is definitely the best option if the dive resort has this information.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
The site was nice.. BUT it was really creepy.. it felt like something's gonna happen.. like you see in the movies..
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