Love Frogfish? Yes? Then you are going to love Atmosphere Resort & Spa! Located in Dauin, on the island of Negros Oriental near Dumaguete, in The Philippines, this is frogfish heaven. Whether you are diving the famous Apo Island, with its wonderful coral reef (more on this another time) or exploring the local reefs and muck dives, there are frogfish wherever you look. This is the capital of the world for Frogfish.
We love frogfish so much, we named our company after them. So, it was with some excitement that we headed to Atmosphere, as not only did we know that we would be spending lots of time with our favourite weird fish, but Atmosphere has another treat for all frogfish fans – a resident expert – Daniel Geary (or Dr Frogfish)!
Daniel wrote the PADI Frogfish Specialist Course and teaches it exclusively at the resort. The course starts with a two hour classroom session. Daniel goes into detail about the history of frogfish, such as the first ever drawings/encounters written in history, working our way up to the present and highlighting some of the important scientists that furthered our knowledge of frogfish.
He talks about general frogfish biology on subjects such as body morphology, predation, reproduction, movement, and distribution. The final topic is the identification segment, and, according to Daniel, that is the most important part of the course. He goes through a few main species in heavy detail, then talks about some of the rare species in moderate detail, touching on the super rare species just to show they exist and to see cool photos.
The course is centred around Indo-Pacific frogfish, but he can add frogfish from anywhere to tailor it to the diver taking the course. Participants then go for two dives, with the dive site chosen depending on the abundance of frogfish at that time of the year.
Daniel says: ” Normally we see between 2 and 5 species. We can expect anywhere from 1 to 30 frogfish during a course. My record is 36. During the dives themselves, our main objective is to locate the frogfish. We then measure them, take notes of habitat and any behaviour observed, and if brave, the students can guess identification underwater using hand signals. I bring my camera, and students are encouraged to bring theirs, so that we can properly identify the frogfish after the dive.”
After the second dive, the students have a debriefing session where they go through the photos. As a team, with the students leading, we identify each frogfish we spotted and look at their behaviour as well. The objective is for the students to identify the frogfish with minimal help. After the course, they get a free t-shirt, PADI certification, and a pdf file of Daniel’s custom Frogfish of the Visayas ID Guide.
Alas, there was not enough time on our trip for us to complete the Frogfish Specialist Course, but we did attend one of Daniel’s talks on his favourite subject of Frogfish, which are a popular evening event. We got to hear first-hand about his passion for frogfish, see some of his impressive images and learn plenty more about them, whilst sipping on a cool beer, after a great day of diving.
The diving was a real treat, and whilst we took in far more than just frogfish on this trip (more about this soon) it was amazing just how many different species and individual frogfish we encountered, from the miniscule ones, barely bigger than a grain of sand, to the very large ones camouflaged against sponges. Frogfish are incredible fish, with the ability to blend in to match their surroundings and then strike at their prey with ferocious speed. They use a special appendage to “fish” for their prey, dangling a lure out in front of their mouths. They tend to walk along the seabed and look clumsy when trying to move from one place to another. Be careful – they can become an obsession!
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Underwater Photography Equipment Used:
- Olympus OMD EM-1 MKII with 60mm lens
- Nauticam housing
- INON Z-240 strobes
- Nikon D800 with 105mm lens
- Nauticam housing
- INON Z-240 strobes