The largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark can grow upwards of 13mts and generally feed on plankton, microscopic plants and animals. It looks like a shark and is as big as a whale – hence the name. They are harmless to humans and unfortunately are hunted for their fins! We do not allow our customers to dive with whale sharks as it is deemed inappropriate by those in the know! However at certain times of the year it is possible to snorkel with many of these fine fish and will be an unforgettable experience.
There are at least 6 different species of sea turtle. Here we primarily get the Green Turtle, which even though they are the most widespread of all turtles are still on the endangered list so an encounter is always special. Each turtle has its own unique facial markings that are similar to our fingerprints. Their shells can vary in color from back to grey to greenish or brown and often have bold streaks, spots and yellow markings on. They can weigh up to 300lbs and reach 3ft in length, and we see them all over the place!
Barracudas are voracious, opportunistic predators. With an evil glint in the eye and razor sharp teeth they rely on short bursts of speed to grab their prey. They are an awesome sight to encounter under water; whether you meet a lone adult barracuda or a ball of juveniles they are inquisitive and will come in nice and close to check you out! Known to have extremely poor eyesight it is advisable not to wear shiny reflective jewelry whilst diving or snorkeling as there have been a few reported cases of mistaken identity!
The Trevally is a powerful apex predator that can be encountered in most areas of the indo-pacific. It is known to hunt both individually and in schools and predominantly feeds of smaller fishes. It is a semi-pelagic fish that tends to congregate in shallower coastal waters. A stunning sight for any diver is encountering a ball of these majestic fish. You can lose yourself for many minutes just watching them ebb and flow with the currents.
Another large pelagic fish that can be seen in the waters around Apo Island is the tuna. The blue fin tuna is the fastest fish in the ocean and can reach 70km/hour. The largest ever Tuna fish weighed a whopping 881lbs!!! Tuna schools are often seen mingling with dolphin pods, in an apparent attempt to protect themselves from sharks. There are over 50 different species of tuna that can be found worldwide.
The weird and wonderful cuttlefish is not actually a fish but is in fact a mollusk that is related to squids, octopus and nautiluses. They have an internal shell (cuttlebone), amazing large W-shaped pupils, eight arms and 2 tentacles which they use for feeding. They have an impressive showcasing of colors and can even be seen to change the texture of their skin, giving them the nickname ‘the chameleon of the sea’.
Ornate Ghost Pipefish
These stunning fish can be found along reef edges prone to strong currents. They reach a maximum length of 12cm and vary in color from red, yellow and black to translucent. Normally always found in pairs, the female is the bigger of the two species growing up to 3 times the size of the male, she also carries the eggs in a pouch formed by the pelvic fins. They are not always easy to see so having either a very good eye or a local divemaster at hand is always useful.
The weird and wonderful frog fish can be seen in most tropical waters. There are over 9 different species of these strange creatures and each looks equally bizarre. Very hard to spot they tend to merge with their surroundings; they can be as tiny as a finger nail or reach up to 15cms. Their colors vary from white to red, black to orange, pink to green and more depending on their surroundings. Technically they cannot swim instead they tend to ‘walk’ along the bottom using their large pectoral fins.
A strange fish like critter that can normally be found hiding in the dark sand or grassy bottom of the shallows. These romantic creatures mate for life so are commonly seen in pairs with the female being the large of the two. The name sea moth comes from their elongated pectoral fins that from a wing like shape on either side of their body. Like frog fish, the sea moth technically cannot swim instead they use their claw like appendages to crawl along the bottom.
A small yet vibrantly colored slug of a creature that would not look out of place in a kid’s book. They are extremely toxic to all other creatures and spend their time crawling over and eating corals. Stunning to look at with their wide array of colors and feathered appendages or exposed lungs, they are both beautiful and deadly. Do not be fooled by their beauty there are carnivores and some species even cannibalistic.
Branded Sea Krait
The banded sea krait is a type of sea snake that has the ability to live on both land and in the sea. They have specialized ventral scales that allow them to crawl on ground and can often be seen in the late evenings making their way up beaches to find a safe place to lay eggs. They are extremely venomous but due their docile behavior and small fangs which cannot penetrate neoprene they pose no immediate threat to divers.