Unforgettable Shark Diving and Big Animal Encounters

Trip Reports

Philippine Thresher Sharks 2014 Trip Report

By November 27, 2018No Comments

This year’s Thresher Shark Expedition was jam packed with great marine life sightings. Rather than giving you a dive by dive account of the action, I’m going to try to mention as many encounters as possible and let the images do most of the talking.

Briefly put, the weather was perfect, the macro life on the reefs was varied and entrancing and the reefs themselves looked like Yolanda (last year’s super-typhoon) never took place.


This year was the best I have seen for pelagic thresher shark action. We were lucky enough to dive with thresher sharks every single morning and some of them stayed with us for the entire dive. It was quite amazing to see such normally illusive sharks up close for so long.

Coral Catshark diving


After our thresher dives each morning we would return to shore for breakfast and then go in search of smaller sharks and a myriad of other critters that inhabit Malapascua’s colorful reefs. It wasn’t an easy task because catsharks and bamboo sharks hide in deep recesses during the day, waiting for the cover of darkness. So I’m really happy to report that after a lot of searching we found two coral catsharks and a large banded bamboo shark to film.


Super mollusks were all over the place. We bumped into broadclub cuttlefish on multiple dives and blue-ringed octos too. On our night dives we also saw a starry-night octopus and a tiny algae octopus that I could never have found without the eagle eyes of our attentive guides.


From 4m long thresher sharks to 4cm long nudibranchs, Malapascua delivered endless photographic opportunities and challenges. There must be hundreds of sea slug species around the island. This collection of nudibranch species were taken on just a couple of dives when I switched to macro photography.


There were also no shortage of crustaceans on our dives. From tiny spotted porcelain crabs nestled in anemones to expertly camouflaged box crabs, hiding in plain sight, it seemed as though there were pincers in every nook and cranny. Most species were invisible to our inexperienced eyes but once revealed they made excellent photo subjects.

As for other crustaceans, there were cleaner shrimps and lobsters aplenty but the energetic Mantis Shrimps stole the show.


If I start rattling off all the weird and wonderful fishes that we encountered this trip report will go on forever here are a few crowd favorites that are reliably found around Malapascua.


Then there were the sea snakes and the lush soft corals and all the jellies and all the other wonderful underwater gems, not to mention the breathtaking topside vistas, friendly locals and delicious exotic food, but in the end it all comes back to the thresher sharks. If there were no threshers we probably wouldn’t have gone and that would have been such a shame.

Fortunately, (in my experience) the sharks have never failed to show so we’ll continue to visit Malapascua and hopefully if you join us next December or on subsequent trips you’ll have a chance to see why Malapascua is a world class destination.

clown fish in an anemone in Malapascua
Diving with thresher sharks in the Philippines

From one of this year’s guests:

“The dive trip to Malapascua Island, Philippines was another “trip of a lifetime”! Strange how Andy Murch’s trips are like that! There were Thresher sharks on every dive during that first early morning dip. I saw 7 sharks on one dive & others said they saw 12 but it’s hard to tell how many are repeat sightings. Where in the world can one see such a unique shark? That was just the first dive of the day. The other dives (2 sometime 3 dives when a night dive was included) were also interesting, full of creatures that I have never seen before. The dive guides were great in showing critters that I would not have seen on my own. My guide delighted in pointing out some species too small for me to photograph but I pretended to take a photo anyway because she was trying so hard for me! The boat crew were also excellent in seeing the gear was loaded & set up ready to dive each time. We only had to prepare our camera to take the photos! It was a very successful week thanks to the help of all the staff.”