Friday, 4 January 2013

Sights: A Dream Come True in MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL

I want to start the year with sharing one of the most amazing and unforgettable experiences I had the previous year. I've watched a lot of feature stories on one of the most if not the most adorable sea dwelling animal, the dolphin. Stories such as people being saved from shark attacks and drowning, surfers surfing side by side with them, the awesome stories just goes on and on.


A Dream Come True

There is one story that I haven't forgotten, it was from the 2010 Academy Award Winning Documentary, The Cove. A female free diver was telling her story about her experience with the dolphins. She was swimming and diving in open waters when a group of dolphins appeared, they were swimming around her as if they were playing with her. When suddenly one of them approached her and turned his belly in front of her, the dolphin playfully wanted her to pet and touch him.


Photo from www.thecovemovie.com

Because of watching and hearing all those stories, one of my dreams is to actually swim with dolphins. I've been to places which can actually let me fulfill my dream but problem is, these places are theme parks which holds captive and trained dolphins. These dolphins might actually came from 'the cove' in Japan where the dolphins are captured then sold all over the world. When a friend told me about MOAP or Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park, I knew I just had to go. MOAP is supposed to be a marine sanctuary where they take care of injured sea animals and release them back in the wild as soon as they are fit to. And one of the sea animal they always take care of are dolphins While they are being nursed back to health, one can actually swim, play and feed them.




Going there was pretty easy. From the airport, we rode a tricycle then hailed a van to go to the Park. From the entrance, we rode another tricycle to enter the premise itself. After a quick lunch, we waited for other people to arrive so that we could share the expense for the bangka ride going to the aquamarine park. Each person paid Php300, the bangka can accommodate 10 to 12 people.


Walking towards the Boarding Area

Bangka Ride

In less than 15 minutes, we arrived at the dock and made our way to the dolphin sanctuary.





This is what greeted us, three dolphins swimming around the enclosure. I was so excited that I could jump right then and there.


Three Dolphins Swimming Around



We had to pay Php350 for the experience and one can rent snorkels and floating vests. While waiting for our turn, one of the caretakers proceeded to tell us that a week before they just released back more than 10 dolphins in the open. He also told a story about how a mother dolphin brought and left her injured calf at the sanctuary a few days back but sadly they weren't able to revive the calf back to health.





When our time came, we were taught on the proper way of holding the fish to feed the dolphins. The caretaker handed over a plastic net with fish inside and left us on our own. When we approached the deeper part of the enclosure, the dolphins were very wary. They swam away from us and whenever I hold out a piece of fish, they would quickly grab it and swim away.


Spotted Dolphin



After a couple of minutes of being with them in the water, they started to warm up. They would approached us and would stare at us with so much curiosity.


"Well Hello There..."

"Im glad to meet you!!!"


There were even times when I felt that they were smiling as I took photos of them. So Adorable and Cute!!!!


"Say CHEESE!!!"

"Smille!!!"
Getting Close and Personal


The feeling was incredible, there I was fulfilling one of my dreams. It was better than what I hoped and expected, I was able to swim, touch, feed and hear them. I felt so happy, calm and at peace with them, they are such adorable gentle creatures, it makes you want to grab and hugged them tightly.


'Face Off'

Gently Stroking their Forehead

Petting them


Here's a compilation of video clips of what transpired underwater. Petting, swimming, playing, hearing and feeding them.


video


I also found out that dolphins can be picky eaters. They have been feasting on whole pieces of fish when I didn't notice that I grab hold of a fish head only. When I held out and release the fish head for him to eat, watch the exasperated expression of the dolphin. This is so funny, Do Watch This!!!



video


Luckily, there weren't any group that followed us so instead of the usual 20 minutes, we were able to swim with them for almost an hour. I could have stayed longer though if permitted.


Swimming and Playing with a Dolphin


After being with the dolphins, we still couldn't believe what has transpired. We walked and looked around the park.



Under the Docks


Right in the middle of the sea, there is a sand bar. Though I'm not sure if this is man made or natural



Sand Bar


The front desk told us that we can snorkel around the area. We didn't have to pay an extra fee, we just gave our guide a reasonable tip. I was awe-struck with what I saw, the marine life under was so alive and beautiful. I saw different kinds and sizes of fish and other beautiful sea dwelling creatures, it is one of the best snorkeling sites that I've been to.


Beatiful Corals 

A School of Fish Swimming Around

Fish Feeding

HUGE Clams!!

A Stunning White-Pinkish Sea Plant

Fish of Different Sizes and Color



While swimming and diving around, I saw something stand out, the colorful Clown Fish.

"Looked who I bumped into..its Marlin and Nemo"

"Smile for the Camera!!!"

The experience was one of the most unforgettable and uplifting experiences I'll ever had. I won't even have second thoughts of going back and doing it all over again and again. I hope the people behind MOAP stay true to what they claimed to do and not turn this place into one of those theme parks that exploits the smartest and most adorable sea mammal.




"Everything was Perfect"

Afternote: If you get a chance to watch The Cove, I strongly suggest that you do. The movie is both sad and inspiring and what's most important it is an eye opener on what is actually happening with dolphins. Visit their site at: www.thecovemovie.com


Update: Unfortunately after there was a change of government, they have decided to closed down the place. As what I've heard, the new local government has change their advocacy, prioritizing other projects.

11 comments:

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    1. thanks achi les! until now i still cant get over this experience!

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  2. great post!! congratulations for crossing one item off your bucket list!

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    1. thanks senorita lakwatsera!!! great experience!

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  3. Awesome post, and great photos! I've always wanted to do this...way to go Jay!

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    1. thanks dude!!! do try it out!!! I'm certain that you'll loved it!

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  4. Hi, I'd like to know your opinion since I haven't seen the place.. Do you think they took care of the dolphins appropriately? And also I am a desperate marine biologist wannabee and I totally love snorkeling. I can see from your pictures that the marine life there is teeming? I plan to visit when I go home to Dipolog this May.
    Any advice? Thanks! :)

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    1. Hi nevusarmie! When we got there, I got turned off on how the place looked like, it looked like a place for dolphin shows. I asked the caretakers about it but they told us, they have no plans in staging a show. From how it looked, they seem to take care of the dolphins pretty well. It didn't feel like swimming with trained dolphins, the dolphins were really wary of us at first before they warmed up and got near us. Inside the sanctuary, you'll spot a number of fish around but it is around it where you'll find great marine life. Please do email me if you need help in planning for your trip or if you have any more questions. Thanks!

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  5. Thanks for answering my question! :)

    I'm not expecting the marine life won't be as diverse as that in Palawan. Maybe it might be similar to the ones in some resorts in Anilao but I guess I won't keep my hopes that high hehe. I almost decided not to go anymore cause I was afraid they might have been exploiting the dolphins but when I saw your blog I changed my mind haha. there are lots of beaches in our place too but none that actually have been for snorkelling. I am yet to see what kind of marine life it offers. I've heard of dakak, who hasn't haha but I don't want to go for personal reasons haha. I always thought one could find better options than it.

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  6. *that the marine life would be

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    1. Hi nevusarmie! Though the marine life here is not as diverse as in Palawan or Batangas, swimming with the dolphins is SO WORTH IT! So far, it's still the best animal encounter that I experienced! I do hope and pray that the people behind MOAP still stay true to what they claim to do! Enjoy nevusarmie! I'm pretty sure you will!

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