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Scuba Diving in Coron, Palawan, the Philippines
Dive Site: Kyokuzan Maru
Location: Dimalanta Island, Coron, Palawan, Philippines (12°09'58"N; 120°09'19"E)
Description: 6,492 ton auxillary cargo ship
Length: 150 metres (492 feet)
Depth: 24 - 40 metres (79 - 141 feet)
Visibility: 10 - 15 metres (30 - 50 feet)
The Kyokuzan is sitated on the opposite side of Busuanga to Coron town so to reach it requires about an hour along bumpy roads in a truck followed by a 20 minute boat journey. Because of this it is likely you'll do both of your dives for the day here. This has the potential to be a lovely wreck although the low visibility does prevent this from being a top class dive. There's a lot of life on this wreck, starting on the line which is home to lots of tiny fish and continuing down the mast and onto the deck which is encrusted with coral. The bridge area and large overturned funnel make for some easy penetration. The haze coming up from the holds is asbestos, so watch where your regs are hanging down - I was a bit dubious about spending too much time down in the holds!
This has to be one of the best wrecks in Coron along with the Akitsushima and the Taiei Maru. To get there you have to get a group of six divers together but it's usually not a problem as you simply put your name on the blackboard in Seadive's reception and other divers soon make up the numbers. The reason for this is that a boat has to be prepared the day before and it sails off around the island overnight where you rendezvous with it the following day after a hairy "Jeepney" ride across the island - quite an experience!
The wreck is a lot more intact than the others and even has some traces of its former cargo to be found including masses of broken pottery and the odd piece of gas mask. The other slightly disturbing element of her cargo provides a weird phenomena as you enter the holds. She carried a large amount of asbestos and it sits in the bottom of the holds giving rise to a bizarre dry ice effect. Now I really don't know how wise (or otherwise!!!) it is to dive into an asbestos cloud so I would recommend staying clear however it does produce a very eerie effect!
As with the other Coron wrecks an abundance of fish life is ever present and we were visited by an ever increasing number of incredibly curious batfish. One appeared then tootled off for his pal, then another, then another. In all it happened 5 times until we had six inquisitive Batfish sizing us up from as close as a metre or so as we de-fizzed on the line!
Martin Frankcom, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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