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Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

February 2011

Encompassing more than 7000 islands in the Western Pacific Ocean, the Philippines' boundaries extend from Taiwan in the north, to Borneo and the Sulu Sea in the south.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Because most of these islands lie within the Ring of Fire and the Typhoon Belt of the Western Pacific Ocean, conditions at times, can change quite suddenly and dramatically.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan Culture can be as complex as the forces of nature. The area has been inhabited for at least 30,000 years. About 120-170 languages are spoken over 26 ethnic regions throughout the islands. Tagalog and English are the official languages.

As much as the "island" aspect of the Philippines has enabled cultural diversity, it has equally prevented its complete unification. On the other hand, this aspect has also prevented long-term occupation by other countries. The Spaniards, Americans, and Japanese have all tried and failed.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Definitely the greatest assets of the Philippines are the biodiversity of nature, the countless islands, and the vast ocean in between. Hidden lagoons, waterfalls, and cool cloud-topped mountains are all here.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

It is also a diver's paradise with world-class conditions and variety. An entire fleet of sunken Japanese wrecks lie off the coast of Coron. Hammerheads school in the hundreds off of Apo Reef. Giant Mantas, migrating whales, and aquarium conditions exist in many other as yet unexplored areas.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

For divers, coral reefs are treasured gardens where most marine life exists, and the Philippines are right in middle of the reef belt that extends from here to the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Tourism dollars generated from the development of scuba diving sites has benefited both the local people and the environment. Many of the locals are qualified dive masters, instructors and owners of dive shops.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Cyanide and dynamite fishing practices, which utterly destroy reef ecosystems, although not eliminated, have been greatly reduced.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Increased focus and raised awareness for responsible marine ecology, helped spear-headed the drive for protected marine reserves such as Tubbataha Reef.

Life is as old as the ocean. And much like life, the ocean only reveals itself to those brave enough to venture deeper. Even so, neither the deep nor life simply gives up its secrets because we happen to visit for a few hours.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Post Script

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Plastic wraps most every little thing we buy today. It's so ubiquitous it's invisible. Have you ever wondered where all that wind-swept, thoughtlessly discarded plastic trash ends up? Think about it. The Earth is 2/3 ocean, so there is a good possibility that 2 out of 3 pieces of plastic will end up there; and it has.

There is an island of plastic the size of Texas, and twice the size of France, collecting in the North Pacific Gyre. It was only recently been discovered in the past 10 years because sailors usually avoid this area where the currents are circular. See: The Trash Vortex

I remember hiking through a virgin jungle up a clear fresh river in Venezuela 30 years ago to a spectacular waterfall only to find plastic bleach bottles and disposable diapers floating at the base.

Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

photo courtesy

For 80,000 years people were a balanced part of the "eco" fabric of this planet until the industrial revolution began some 250 years ago. In this comparatively brief time, it seems that the great modernizing revolution has become a horrific war against nature. Our fascination for invention coupled with a "prosumer" ideology, and the exploitation of oil, has drastically altered our planet, and now ironically threatens our very existence.

photo courtesy Danielle Press
Island Life: Diving Cebu and Palawan

Life is profuse and will flourish like mad ... if given an iota of a chance.
Please use alternatives to plastic, and please recycle; don't litter.

For information on large resolution and more photos, contact

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