Its not polite to point man...

Jun V Lao, Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography
newly hatched Flamboyant Cuttlefish, an awesome find...

December to April is the best time to dive Anilao & Scubaholic Anonymous' trip with Jason, Adlii, Ching and Ling on Feb 20-25 did not disappoint. Water was at a freezing 24c (for us asian divers, this is ice cold) and during the third day, we even had to abort prematurely an awesome nightdive at Anilao Pier (wearing a 5mm would be perfect for those 90 minute photo dives).

Jun V Lao, Anilao Underwater

There were many firsts again for us this trip, personally, was so elated to see a juvenile Day Octopus (Octopus Cyanae) which we initially thought was a blue ring octopus, a bit later it flashed a ring on its cheek and we wondered if it was a Mototi, then having spent almost the whole dive with it, it gave out this orange shaded ring prominently with its legs turning deep blue to purple in color. Jason, who was the only photographer during this trip requested for a blue ring octopus and I initially told him our find during Day 3 was 'the bomb' and I'd try to find out what it was but he was quick on the draw to do the research and comparing pics posted, it turned out to be a juvenile Day Octopus which as shared by Marty Snyderman (caption with his posted photos) was quite common to  the Indo Pacific region. Nevertheless, the find for me was an awesome one, seeing something new after thousands of dives gives you more incentive to get back into the water, reminding you there are much much more to see and excite you.  

Jun V Lao, Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography
oh yes Ambon...
There are several small new resorts now in Anilao who regularly pick up tanks from Mayumi Resorts when they do their dives in the San Teodoro area and as they were picking up their rental air, he shared there was a Hairy Frogfish and Ambon Scorpionfish at Secret Bay. After the tip, Me, Jason and Adlii immediately went there and 10 minutes into the dive, we saw a lovely Ambon pair, one golden in color measuring around 3 inches (the female is usually the bigger one most of the time for macro critters) and a half an inch male which was trailing it throughout our dives. While Jason was shooting the big female, I went looking for the Hairy frogfish which we missed. (Ivan passed again the next day sharing it was quite small and it buried itself under the sand, so we planned to make a second pass at it later in the day) Few minutes after we were about to end our dives, I observed that the smaller male was yawning relentlessly, so instead of trying to catch the larger female, I stuck with the smaller male and was quite happy I stayed with it.

Jun V Lao, Paparazsea
lovely Juvenile Day Octopus throws some tentacles

Our second pass at Secret bay turned out to be a more surprising one. First few minutes of the dive, while looking for some possible nudibranchs at some halimeda grass, we chanced upon a lovely Robust Ghostpipefish pair... they were bright green and had hairs all over and we stayed a few minutes with it.  As Jason took more photos, I went over to look for that juvenile hairy frogfish where along the way, i found some cuttlefish eggs under a rock which looked like so ready to hatch. There were four eggs left and a bunch have apparently hatched and are already roaming about the muck site. I excitedly called Jason and we took turns shooting the eggs. Shooting eggs and keeping the embryo in focus is no easy task so we stayed there longer than usual. After several minutes, one of the embryos inside turned into a grapefruit color and was suddenly trying to pry out the egg sac. We took a closer inspection and this wasn't just an ordinary cuttlefish egg but a flamboyant cuttlefish about to hatch.

Jun V Lao, Underwater Photography,.
Secret Bay is home to this famous nudibranch
This would be the second time in my life I would see this and a first for everyone... it's amazing enough to see an adult Flamboyant Cuttlefish but what a treat to see Flamboyant hatchlings. We spent the remainder of the dive there and there was a total of two who popped out of their egg sacs, initially swimming around like there was no tomorrow and after a few minutes would lay down in the sand, trudging along like an adult. High fives came as we surfaced, I even suggested we go back to the dive site for a second run at it, but the water was too cold so we decided we move on to Matu Point to try our luck to see a Blue Ring Octopus.

Mating Squids
prior our Blue Ring hunt... a mating frenzy of Squids

Matu point, was the site where we previously saw an Octopus Cyanae and I told Jason Blue Rings can be found mostly in the afternoons and Matu Point was a reliable site seeing one. We started the dive at around 4pm and explored every inch of Matu Point's small wall. After seeing several frogfish, I finally saw one gingerly walking the walls near the base where we usually see Robokan squat lobsters. Banging my tank relentlessly, there were times the Blue Ring Octopus will take shelter in the cracks and bye bye forever Blue Ring. Fortunately, the Blue Ring Stayed with us and Jason had his fill with it.

DIVE LOG (highlights):
Dive 1- Twin Rocks- Hairy Shrimp, Mating Nembrotha, Jackfish, Baraccuda, Yellow Snappers etc.
Dive 2- Secret Bay- Ambon Scorpionfish (focussed)
Day 2
Dive 3- Twin Rocks- strong current, usual Yellow snappers etc.
Dive 4- Secret Garden- Xenia Shrimp, Pleurobranchs host of shrimps
Dive 5- Secret Bay- Mimic Octopus, Cuttlefish, Hairy Green robust Ghostpipefish, shrimps galore
Day 3
Dive 6- Secret Bay- Flamboyant cuttlefish eggs which hatched
Dive 7- Matu Point- Octopus Cyanea
Dive 8- Basura- Cardinal fish with Eggs, Gymnodoris
Dive 9- Anilao Pier- Reef Squids, Octopus Vulgaris, Sea Hares
Day 4
Dive 10- Twin Rocks- Jacks Jacks Jacks
Dive 11- Daryl Laut- Scorpion Leaffish, Sailfin goby
Dive 12- Matu Point- Blue Ring Octopus, Juvenile Painted Frogfish, Juvenile Warty Frogfish
Day 5 (Bonus)
Dive 13- House Reef- Barracudas, Turtle and excellent soft coral reef

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