Ahhhh, Coron! Ito and I just can’t get enough of this lovely corner of Palawan. It is, without a doubt, one of the places that we love most. Last February, we once again found the lure of the islands too hard to resist and made our way back to stay for a week. On that visit, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of the endangered dugong (or manatee) which had eluded us in our previous trips.
The dugong is a gentle herbivore, said to have been mistaken for a mermaid by fishermen in the past, and can often be found peacefully grazing at the bottom of the ocean. The recent typhoons had apparently wiped out much of its usual feeding grounds, so we were told that our chances of seeing one was hit-or-miss. After a delicious Valentine’s day buffet breakfast at dawn, we set off as the early morning fog still crept through the mangroves and clung to the coastline. It was early enough that the sea was still unmarked and as smooth as glass–we could see right to the bottom, where we caught sight of a pawikan (sea turtle) swimming by.
As we headed off into open waters, the surface was suddenly marked by a small cluster of bubbles, and to our surprise, we found ourselves beside a mid-sized whale shark! We quickly put on our snorkeling gear and jumped in to swim with the gentle giant as it feasted on plankton. Back on the boat, we were getting ready to head off again, when a pair of sting rays glided past. Then as if that wasn’t enough, we had continued on our journey for only a few minutes when the spotter on our boat suddenly called to us and pointed to a large fin emerging from the water–it was a minke whale! They cut the engine of the boat and guided it closer to the whale as it swam around us for a while. Off in the distance, we saw another minke whale swimming further out.
Finally we arrived at the feeding grounds where the dugongs had moved to, and as we snorkeled with our guide, we finally caught sight of a murky figure on the ocean bed. The adorable dugong was munching on sea grass, enjoying a mid-morning breakfast while we happily looked on. And although the water in the feeding grounds wasn’t clear enough to take any pictures, we were positively thrilled. We finally said good-bye to the dugong, and as a farewell treat, a squad of translucent baby squid swam by.
What a magical adventure! We had set off a few hours earlier holding no expectations and ready to just enjoy the boat ride, with only a slight hope of catching sight of a dugong. Instead, we had come across an abundance of sea creatures, big and small, that left our hearts positively brimming with wonder at the amazing world we live in (I even hashtagged it #COEURon since coeur means heart). It’s amazing what presents itself to us when we allow ourselves to be surprised 🙂
I will be sharing more of these serendipitous adventures with you in the next posts (our other summer trips took us to the islands of Borneo and Siargao). What about you, have you had experiences that weren’t planned that blew you away?
*Photos by Ito