Apr 18, 2012

Posted by in Blog, Featured, Postcards | 12 Comments

Diving With Thresher Sharks – Malapascua Island

I am the most seasick I have ever felt. No matter what my instructor says, I am NOT throwing up in my regulator. This sucks. What am I doing here — deep under the ocean, trying to get my freaking ears to pop, and paying money to feel miserable? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Then, all of a sudden, it swims by. Hellllooo, Mr. Thresher Shark! At around twelve feet long, it is smooth, graceful, and BIG. For a few moments, I forget about the pitching of the ocean, and of my stomach, and I feel at peace.

Clown fish in Malapascua Island

In case you're hungover and not feeling bright today, JFYI this is not a thresher shark. But I did take this picture on another, non vomtastic, Malapascua dive.

Scuba diving is normally a serene activity, with your own breaths being the only soundtrack. Somehow, feeling like you are going to vom at any second takes away a bit of the magic. But, I was here, and I had seen a shark!

One of the reasons I wanted to travel to Malapascua Island was its reputation as the only place in the world where you can dive with thresher sharks on a regular basis. They have a feeding station on Monad Shoal, a 45-minute boat ride from the island.

Divers in wetsuits - Malapascua Island

What I look like when I'm not seasick.

Apparently, thresher sharks are early birds. In order to dive with them, we had to meet at 4:30 a.m. Of course, life runs on Philippines time, and we weren’t actually going anywhere in the boat until 5:30 or so.

I had already been on boat rides in the area and not felt the slightest bit seasick, so I hadn’t thought to pop any Dramamine prior to my trip. BIG mistake.

The waters were unusually rough (my guide, Tony, said they were the worst he’d seen in months), and soon into the trip everyone probably thought I was a mega-bitch for ignoring their stories, when in fact, I was just trying to keep it together. (Or, more accurately, down.)

Colorful corals - diving in Malapascua Island

Ahhh, corals.

When we finally got to Monad Shoal, I was in full-on panic mode. In a trembling voice, I asked Tony, “If I have to puke, where should I do it?” As soon as he said, “Just over the side of the boat,” I was at it.

I will spare you the details, but he and the other crew-members pretty much just hurried to get me into my gear so that I could go underwater.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to descend, as I physically did not think I could do it. But Tony and the other crew members assured me that I wouldn’t feel the motion of the ocean as much underwater.

And, if I didn’t go down, my only other option I would be sitting in the rocky ass boat for 45 minutes waiting for the other people to finish their dives. Ummmm, no thanks.

Tony at Purple Snapper Resort - Malapascua Island

My instructor Tony, bless his heart.

Though I was less than enthusiastic at the time (is there anyone more miserable to be around than a really seasick person?), I am so glad I went with their expert advice and proceeded with the dive.

Supposedly, you can throw up into your regulator, but for me that was totes disgusting and was in no way an option. So, it was rough going for a while, but seeing the shark made the experience all worth it.

As for the ride back, suffice it to say that I was in the fetal position for the ENTIRE time. Oh well, it was an experience. Shockingly enough, I didn’t really feel like snapping too many pix that day, so all of these are from later dives.

Did I mention that Malapascua is a teeny island, and I was pretty much known as the pukey girl for the rest of the week? Awes.

Have you ever gotten seasick when you really didn’t want to?

This is a postcard from Malapascua Island, in the Philippines. I went diving with Purple Snapper Dive Resort, which I would highly recommend. One dive costs 1,550 Philippine pesos – a super affordable $37. You must have your advance open-water certification (or be enrolled in the course) to dive at Monad Shoal. 

  1. I got really sick on one dive – not due to sickness but the onset of the 24 hour flu. I was 30 meters below the surface when I started getting really cold, achy, and nautious. I didn’t want to puke in my regulator either. I could barely muster excitement over the fish we were seeing and the boat ride back was the longest ever.

  2. Yikes! Sounds like a meserable experience – even if you got to see a thresher shark. I’ve luckily (know on wood) never gotten seasick, but I have seen plenty of people who have dive boats. I feel for you!

    • The thresher shark definitely made it all better — I’ve already forgotten what the seasickness felt like! Haha.

  3. Sea sickness is the worst. I remember being on a full day trip on the Great Barrier Reef and was ill literally the whole day. Awful experience! It’s good you went ahead with the dive and managed to see the shark though!

    • Omg, full day trip?! That sounds terrible. I think I would’ve given up. The Great Barrier Reef is definitely on my list – I will make sure to bring along some Dramamine!

  4. I dove with sharks in Belize, but I didn’t know I was going to be diving with them until i descended and there they were. I thought I’d freak out, but the fact that they weren’t interested in me made it a really peaceful experience. Sorry you got seasick 🙁 Dramamine next time!

    • I went snorkeling with the sharks in Belize – they were very cute! That was cool because there were so many of them. Thanks for stopping by, Ava!

  5. Hi Susan, thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry that you got seasick! That’s the worst! How was the visibility once you got in the water?

    90% of the dive at Monad Shoal is sitting still on the ocean floor with little to see. Then suddenly, bam, the thresher zoomed by and you can see its huge tail whip by.

    If interested, here’s my post about our experience and about thresher sharks below. I’ve also curated some of the best videos that I’ve seen at this link as well:
    Todd @ Visit50 recently posted..Bayon Temples Cambodia – 216 smiling facesMy Profile

    • Oh, sweet. Thanks, Todd! To be honest, I don’t remember how the vis was. I think it was alright, but I was just trying not to throw up in my regulator! Haha.

  6. I was also thinking if I had a story to make you feel better at all, and I might. In the Similan Islands in Thailand, we went diving 3-4x per day, but there was a dive site that one of my friends raved about. The trip was amazing, but I had a slight cold the morning of the dive at that dive site. I was hoping it would pass, since I’ve never had an issue before, but when I got in the water for that dive, I couldn’t equalize. I tried not to panic, but nothing would work. Eventually I had to let the group go without me. They said it was one of the best dives of the trip. Ahhh! Anyway, it sounds like you persevered and still got to do the thresher dive, so perhaps this might cheer you up!
    Todd @ Visit50 recently posted..Swimming in Shark Infested WatersMy Profile

    • Aw thanks, Todd — that’s so nice of you! I’m sorry you got a cold and couldn’t equalize. Guess you’ll just have to go back!

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