After a rather disappointing dives at Gato Island with Dive Society, we looked forward to thresher shark diving, the one thing that brought us to the island of Malapascua. Since Santi, our Sabahan DM from Little Mermaid Dive Resort had secured our spots for the thresher shark diving, we had to wake up super early in the morning ie before sunrise to go to Monad Shoal dive site.
We had to gather at Little Mermaid Dive Resort at 4.30am. Hot drinks were provided. By the time we arrived at Little Mermaid Dive Resort, all equipments had been loaded into our bangka. At 5.30am, we walked silently to the boat as if we were still in our slumber, half-awake. I was feeling a lot better from the day before. I had thrown up all day long after the dives at Gato Island, largely because I had an empty stomach and I could not eat the food served there. Automatic rejection, if you understand what I mean.
As I am only an Open Water Diver, I had to take up specialty dive course ie. deep dive which would allow me to go down up until 30m depth. I was briefed on dive planning, equipment check, descent, adjustment, acclimatisation to depth, narcosis, ascent and safety stop. It would be my first time to dive at dawn and to go to a depth of 30m. Excitement!
Monad Shoal is the only place in the world where pelagic thresher sharks can be encountered on daily basis all year round. Monad Shoal is 45 minutes ride from Bounty Beach. It was out of nowhere in the open ocean, marked only with a buoyant. Monad Shoal is located at the edge of a drop off of 200m in depth. Each morning, just after sunrise, pelagic thresher sharks rise from their habitat of a depth of 1,150 feet (350m) to a cleaning station of a depth of 30m to be cleaned by reef fishes.
Facts about thresher sharks:-
The waters were rough. By the time I took one giant step forward to drop myself into the water, I had my panic mode on. Rough water and the nervous of descending to a depth of 30m for the first time mixed. Santi played major role in calming me down. She joked in the water, making me smile and for making it feel easier. Luckily I didn’t have underwater air pressure equalization. We had to descend near the buoy line. Since all divers would go at the same time, there was a queue.
Since Monad Shoal is a unique dive site, the dive centres have agreed foa a common set of rules to be observed at Monad Shoal. We were told that as soon as we arrived at the sandy bottom, we had to kneel down along the line and wait for the thresher sharks. The line marks the shark area and the divers area. The existence of the line prevents divers from frightening the thresher sharks.
Rules must be observed to ensure the survivability of Monad Shoal as a dive spot for thresher shark diving.
I was struggling with ear pressure when I saw one thresher shark with its dancing and swaying tail passed by us. Before I knew it, the ear pressure was gone. I held to the line and prayed hard for more thresher sharks to come. My prayers were answered when at least 7 more came dancing in front of me.
They were just 10 metres away from us. Because of the depth and the kind of camera I have, the pictures were unable to do justice to how beautiful these thresher sharks were. We were advised to check our dive computer from time to time because the dive was deep that we had to allow time for safety stop. A safety stop is a 3 to 5 minutes stop made at 5 metres during the final ascent of a dive to allow extra time for absorbed nitrogen to be released from a diver’s body.
Even when we had started to ascend, we came face to face with two thresher sharks.
When we were on the boat to Bounty Beach, we started to compare pictures and the other group spotted Manta Ray too!
If you want to go to Malapascua for thresher shark diving, go with Little Mermaid Dive Resort and ask for Santi, the Dive Master. Thresher shark diving is the best experience during my Malapascua dive trip. Awesome experience. You have to come and see it for your own self.