Marine BiologyMarinelifePADI Courses

Learn critter-spotting secrets with the Critters of Dauin Specialty!

By 15th March 2024No Comments

How on earth did they find that!?

Those of you who have dived with us before will no doubt agree that our divemasters at Atmosphere Resorts & Spa are world-class critter spotters. Whether it’s a tiny hairy shrimp on a blade of seagrass, a juvenile frogfish the size of a needlepoint, or the elusive blue-ringed octopus – our guides can find them!

Have you ever wondered how they spot these critters? Of course, the thousands of dives spent looking for these small and cryptic creatures certainly helps. But they also know their defining physical characteristics, behaviours and habitats – this is something you can learn! The PADI Critters of Dauin specialty at Atmosphere will let you in to the secrets our dive guides use to locate even the smallest and most cryptic of critters. You will also learn how to best encounter them while limiting your potential environmental impact. Join us and you will be a critter-spotting pro in no time!

A picture of a brown hairy shrimp on a piece of seagrass

Hairy shrimp (Phycocaris simulans) mimic pieces of algae on the seagrass, making them incredibly difficult to spot! (Photo taken by Daniel Geary)

Earn a PADI specialty available nowhere else in the world!

Created by our previous in-house marine biologist Kirsty Richards, the PADI Critters of Dauin specialty is unique to Atmosphere Resorts & Spa. Now taught by Reiss, our current in-house marine biologist, the course begins with an engaging presentation, followed by two exciting critter hunt dives. Certified divers aged 10 years and above can enrol!

Reiss, the new marine biologist at atmosphere resorts and spa, standing next to the critters of Dauin specialty board

Take the Critters of Dauin specialty with Reiss, our in-house marine biologist

Learn how to find and identify critter species

Participants will learn about the biology, ecology and defining characteristics of species within the main taxonomic groups. This includes cephalopods (octopus & cuttlefish), gastropod molluscs (nudibranchs & sapsucking slugs), crustaceans (shrimp & crabs), echinoderms (starfish & sea cucumbers), and fish (ghost pipefish, seahorses, anemonefish, frogfish & scorpionfish). Perhaps more importantly (for some) is to find out why female anemone fish are so bossy, how on earth sapsucking slugs photosynthesise and if a pipehorse really is just a straightened-out seahorse?!

A photo of a pair of shaun the sheep nudibranch

The Kuro sapsucking slug (Costasiella kuroshimae) is affectionately known as the “Shaun the Sheep sapsucking slug” (Photo taken by Daniel Geary)

Time to put your critter hunting knowledge to the test!

Students will put their newfound knowledge into practice when they embark on a critter hunt. Using the Critters of Dauin underwater slates, they will try to locate and identify critters across two dives. The first dive focuses on the more common species in the area, while the second dive challenges students to locate the smaller and more cryptic critters! For every critter found, students will record additional information such as the habitat, abundance and depth.

Picture of the Critters of Dauin Specialty ID Slate

Record critter information on your Critters of Dauin Specialty slate

All critter sightings collected by participants will be added to Atmosphere’s extensive critter log. This enables us to track species encounters at dive sites over time. We also want to make sure that our diving guests are taken to the best spots along Dauin’s coast.

So, are you a diver who loves cryptic and colourful critters and would like to know more about what makes them tick? Do you think “how on earth did they find that!?” when your dive guide points out a tiny hairy shrimp? Then this is the perfect specialty is for you.

A photo of an ornate ghost pipefish

The Ornate ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) is a cryptic species, with amazing camouflage abilities (Photo taken by Daniel Geary)

For bookings and enquiries about the PADI Critters of Dauin specialty, please email

Want to know more about the incredible critters we see here along the Dauin coast and Apo Island? Check out the critters page on our website.


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