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troporobo

Member Since 23 Jul 2010
Offline Last Active Today, 03:26 PM
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Topics I've Started

Fishing at Anilao: bad and getting worse

10 July 2017 - 07:19 PM

We've been noticing a significant uptick in fishing activity around Anilao.  There have always been fishers out in small bancas, handlines here and there, and the teams with nets at night especially around Maricaban island and further offshore.  More recently, there are fishers casting from shore right in front of the resorts, and others mooring their bancas to the buoys at the recognized dive sites.  Perhaps most shocking has been sightings of the boat boys from resorts fishing while their diving guests are below!
 
The result is predictable - noticeable decline in fish life, and particularly, the disappearance of the popular school of bigeye jacks at Twin Rocks. 
 
But last weekend our group had a serious incident that really troubles me.  We were ascending from quite near Sombrero island, half way through a safety stop at 5m, when we spotted this coming straight at us:
 
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There were three small bancas that had set a net and were pulling it into a circle, while boys were freediving down to grab their catch, with our dive group in the middle!  I fired off a quick photo for evidence before we quickly descended and waited for the net to pass before surfacing. I'm still shaking from the thought of getting tangled in a net with tanks low on air at the end of a 60 minute dive. 
 
There is no way this was an innocent blunder.  It was sunny and calm and our neon orange SMB was at the surface, clearly visible.  Our own banca was within 20 meters.  And when we got to the surface there were 5 other dive bancas in the immediate vicinity, all with groups down below, and no one on the surface had warned the fishers nor could they understand why we surfaced shouting in alarm.  
 
Now, I understand that fishing is allowed in all but three small protected areas near the shore.  And I have a lot of empathy for the poor fishers who are out to get food and make a living.  I know full well that they get no benefit from dive tourism and zero share of the income from dive passes sold (and enforced vigorously) by the barangay officials that are supposed to protect the environment.  But the irresponsibility of every person on the surface, knowing without a doubt that there were divers in the water whose safety was obviously at risk, was just unbelievable.
 
I also know that there is very little that we can do about this.  I have started snapping photos of the guys fishing from resort bancas while on dive excursions and sending them to the resorts, but have yet to get a single acknowledgement.  There's no point in taking up the issue of fishing at recognized dive sites with barangay officials because (a) its legal and (b) they are surely only interested in trousering as much of the dive pass income as they can.  But I am upset and not willing to just keep shrugging it off. 
 
I would welcome thoughts from the community on maybe starting an information campaign on safety, and other ideas on how to approach this worsening situation constructively.
 
 

 


anyone know Mike Bartick / saltwaterphoto.com?

25 January 2017 - 08:36 PM

I'm trying to contact him.  He used to have a relationship with Crystal Blue resort in Anilao, but neither address is working anymore.  Help with a contact appreciated.


Learned (inadvertently) a lesson . . .

07 December 2016 - 04:17 AM

On my last dive weekend, I somehow managed to forget to pack the tray and handles for my housing.  I had the strobes, and arms, but no way to attach them.  (In flaccid defence, I had arrived back in country after midnight and had to be in the car at zero dark thirty the same morning).  Of course I discovered this while setting up on site.  So there was nothing to do other than improvise.

 

I was able to jury-rig one strobe to the cold shoe in place of my normal focus light, right above the port with no possibility of adjustment. I am used to the flexibility of shooting with two strobes on multiple arms so was really not sure how to make this work, and sure the backscatter would be terminal.  

 

Here are the best examples from those dives.  I was stunned to get clean black backgrounds (except the fire goby which took a fair bit of spot removal) and much more 3D light than I am used to getting.  I think when I rigged the strobe to the housing I must have pointed it in just the right way to barely edge-light macro subjects.  Conclusion: I normally use too much light and don't think carefully enough about controlling it.  

 

Anyway I'm happy with these shots and will work more at incorporating this lesson even when I remember all the bits and pieces!

 

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Anemonefish eggs - help me do this better

21 October 2016 - 03:38 PM

How does one take a photo of these amazing little eggs that is anything other than an ID shot?  They look fantastic in my opinion, but I just can't seem to find a composition that makes for an interesting photo.  Here are three examples from last weekend.  

 

In the first shot, I like the out of focus eggs in the background which give some depth and a sense of their multitude, whereas in the second shot I tried to isolate the eggs against darker negative space.  Both are nice, and very interesting to me, but for anyone who doesn't know what they are looking at they don't seem to be strong images.  In the third shot I tried to establish the context by showing the anemonefish as she was fanning the eggs, but the scale is so different and depth of field inadequate to capture both that I don't think it makes a good photo at all

 

So how do other people go about this subject?

 

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What did I find - conch / cowrie eggs?

02 October 2016 - 09:17 PM

Diving this past weekend at Anilao, it must have been the right moon phase, as we came across three interesting examples of of reproduction (I think).

 

The first was on a vertical section of reef at about 12 m.  There was a group of six conch shells (I've only ever seen one at a time) that I think were trapezius or horse conch. It was hard to be sure as they were so encrusted and since I had a macro lens mounted and the vis was not great I could not take a usable shot of one of them or of the group. Under a small overhang was a cluster of what might be egg cases.  Can anyone confirm?

 

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Continuing the theme, shortly thereafter we came upon a pair of egg cowries, this time a bit shallower at about 6 m.  I think they were also depositing eggs:

 

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Then finally, I came across this transparent shrimp obviously bearing eggs, which I post just to round out the theme:

 

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Expert opinions on the two shells and links to learn more would be much appreciated.