The island of Malapascua is renowned for its Monad Shoal dive site, the “cleaning room” for Thresher sharks. This was our final destination after a journey which can only be experienced when trying to reach a 1km wide and 2km long island within The Visayas in The Philippines. A long haul flight, a second connecting flight, a precarious bus ride during the wet season and finally a delayed overcrowded boat trip led us to the picturesque sandy beaches and azure waters of Malapascua.
Thresher sharks were our primary reason for visiting Malapascua, normally residing in waters up to 500m the sharks rise to shallower depths in the early morning to receive the care and attention of “cleanerfish” at Monad Shoal. With our dive books clutched in sweaty palms we dragged our bags through the sand and deposited ourselves in the first dive shop available. Soon enough we were booked on the first dive boat the following morning.
The darkness from the night before lingered whilst we clambered aboard our boat, the effects of sleep still apparent on everyone’s faces. Slowly the moon disappeared and the sun began to rise over the glistening water as we made our way from shore. A cluster of dive boats bobbing around in the water marked our descend point. Clad like seals we submerged and sank down to a natural shelf jutting out into the murky depths below. Twelve of us held hands in a line waiting for our Thresher shark to arrive. Fish flitted around, shimmering in the light with still no sign of the solitary Thresher. Fingers and toes were starting to go numb and bottoms were becoming restless when eventually out in the distance we glimpsed our longed for prize. As the group instinctively held its breath the flow of bubbles from our air tanks stopped as snaking towards us through the depths with the distinctive Thresher like tail was our shark. The shark cruised past the line of spectators before turning gracefully and disappearing into the darkness. We’d waited for almost half an hour and used up most of our air but we were rewarded just as the cold began to prick our skin through our wetsuits.