Puerto Galera is known for its vibrant marine life and its world-class beaches.
Diving into a mystery
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lying at the heart of the coral triangle and the skirts of the Verde Island Passage, Puerto Galera’s waters are rich with marine life, treasures that divers discovered during the recent Objectif Atlantide Underwater Investigation.

The event was mounted by Department of Tourism (DOT) through Dive Philippines in partnership with French association Objectif Atlantide. Two multiple record-holder free divers went head-to-head against scuba divers to solve a mystery by exploring the unique marine life of Puerto Galera.

“In the Underwater Investigation, the participants followed clues that brought them underwater to take photos of species found around Puerto Galera. This experience teaches them that not only are there a lot of different species here, but also which kind they are,” Objectif Atlantide founder Daniel Meouchy said.

The competition allowed participants to explore and discover the underwater treasures of Puerto Galera

Team Scubaland’s Pauline Thomas and Aurelie Pineau emerged as this year’s winners, successfully defending their title from the competition’s first edition held in Cabilao, Bohol last year. The scuba-diving tandem bested 10 pairs of divers, including five-time world champion and four-time world record holder Arthur Guérin-Boëri and French national record holder Alice Modolo.

“Diving in the Philippines is very interesting because there are many species here. Every time we go into the water and come back to check our pictures, we learn a lot. It’s our second time to win the underwater investigation, so we’ll absolutely do it again! We need to keep our title,” Thomas said.

Karine Cheurfa and Sophie Comminges of Team Esprit de la Plongée from Switzerland bagged the second spot, while Hervé Pages and Martine Bonnevay-Aillaud of Team Têtes Bullées finished third.

The Philippines lies at the heart of the so-called Coral Triangle, home to more than three-fourths of the world’s corals and more than half of the world’s coral reef fish. With 2,248,400 hectares of coral reefs, 500 species of corals and 2,000 species of fish, the country is part of the most fertile part of the triangle.

“At the heart of the Coral Triangle and at the skirts of the Verde Island Passage is Puerto Galera and its rich biological treasures, stunning seascapes and scores of marine species. The island thus makes for a perfect environment to host 2nd Objectif Atlantide Underwater Investigation underwater exploration,” the DOT said.

In support of the DOT’s efforts to promote sustainability in dive tourism and raise awareness for reef protection and conservation, the participants spent the week to observe, survey and photograph the “underwater rainforest” of Puerto Galera.

“Puerto Galera is a feast for the most adventurous spirit; with this event, we hope the French diving community has discovered the wonders of the Philippines’ waters. We will take this great opportunity to showcase the unparalleled beauty of our reefs and call to protect the vibrant biodiversity of our waters to the international community,” DOT Tourism Development Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said.

Scuba diving tandems from around the world who competed in the Objectif Atlantide Underwater Investigation

The 2nd Objectif Atlantide Underwater Investigation was mounted in partnership with Objectif Atlantide, El Galleon Dive Resort and Asia Divers, and sponsored by Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards, Pier Uno Dive Resort, Resorts World Manila and Belmont Hotels and Resorts.

The event was also supported by Plongeur.com, Subaqua Magazine, Chercheurs d’eau, PlongeeOnline.com, Plongee Infos, Plongez Magazine, Paradise-Plongee.com.

Bengzon earlier said there is still potential to further grow the country’s dive tourism.

“There are a lot of opportunities in the country and part of our commitment is that we promote the Philippines as a whole to the international diving community, more specifically look at two segments that we feel have a distinct advantage in – underwater photography and beginner divers,” Bengzon said.

He added that free diving is also an emerging market in the Philippines since it can be done all year round and it showcases the rich marine life the country’s waters have to offer.

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