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The Sardine Run in Pescador Island, Moalboal, Cebu

Three months ago, there were reports of millions of sardines mysteriously appearing along the reef of Pescador Island in Moalboal, Cebu. There were mixed reports — some had said the sardines had been there for years while others say that this is a “now” phenomenon. Net of it all: recently, divers from all over the country made the journey to Moalboal to experience millions of sardines dancing and shimmering amidst the blue backdrop of the ocean.

With the sardines come predators. Thresher sharks prey on the balls of sardines stunning stragglers with their tails ’round the clock. It is common to see at least two sharks circle around you. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see 6 in one dive. This was the most spectacular underwater orchestration I have ever seen.

The threshers here compared to Malapascua are smaller, but sightings are more frequent. The fact that divers do not need to wake up early in the morning to catch a Monad Shoal dive in Malapascua is more convenient. In Pescador, you just have to remain neutrally buoyant in one of the hanging coves and enjoy the show. Peak time is noon to around 3PM. That is feeding time.

Right now, Pescador Island is a “no strobe,” and “no tank banger zone” as the threshers are sensitive to light and noise. There is also a “no gloves” policy so divers aren’t tempted to latch onto the reef wall. There is also a “no net” policy for the fisherfolk and fishing is regulated to hand-line casts.

During our trip, we were blessed with a whale shark sighting and got to interact with it for 3 minutes. That was my 75th dive. Amazing. AMAZING!

If you’re planning a trip to Moalboal, I suggest you do so very soon. It is worth it. Nothing compares to the shapeshifting orchestration of the sardines. Due to the limitations of my camera I was not able to document an entire ball of sardines because it was simply too big to fit into the lens.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

7 replies on “The Sardine Run in Pescador Island, Moalboal, Cebu”

I saw that school of sardines in Pescador, they are awesome. :))And wow! Threshers in Moalboal?!? That is another awesome thing! They didn’t show when we went to Malapascua 🙁 I need to pack my stuff and go back to Moalboal soon 🙂 Thanks for this!

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