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Apo Island and the Dauin Coast is our Diving Playground

Here at Atmosphere, we have some of the best diving in the world. World class muck diving is combined with lush reef diving, walls, and macro diving. The Philippines is situated in the coral triangle – a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean. It includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands.

Named for its staggering number of corals (nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals alone), the region nurtures six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and more than 2000 species of reef fish.

Discover Unique Critters along the Dauin Coastline

Macro lovers rejoice! Dauin is a critter haven, with some of the most interesting and sought-after critters in the world located here. Many of our favourite critters, like frogfish or devil scorpionfish, don’t swim… they walk. Others, like seahorses, hang on for dear life with their tail. We are pleased to have both the tiny pygmy seahorse and the much larger thorny seahorse and common seahorse here in Dauin.

An almost endless list of rare underwater critters

The list of rare critters you can spot in Dauin can be very long, but a few favorites are: blue-ringed octopus, hairy frogfish, pygmy seahorse, Ambon scorpionfish, mandarinfish, orangutan crab, mimic octopus, ribbon eel, ornate ghost pipefish, halimeda crab, flamboyant cuttlefish, nudibranchs, wonderpus, velvet ghost pipefish, thorny seahorse, stargazer, leaf fish, harlequin shrimp, squat lobster, sargassum fish, jawfish, mantis shrimp, giant frogfish, candy crab, tiger shrimp and many more. A muck-divers paradise!

Follow our social media accounts for more critters

See more of our critters on our Atmosphere Dive Facebook and Atmosphere Dive Instagram – we will be posting regular updates on what we see in the sea right now!

Looking for really tiny critters? We have them all!

It’s not uncommon for our guests to be blown away by the incredibly tiny critters that our dive guides can spot – we have some of the best guides in the business! Here in Dauin, you can find tiny frogfish the size of a needlepoint, hairy shrimp that you could easily mistake for a tuft of algae, or the kuro sapsucking slug (otherwise known as the shaun the sheep nudi). Other tiny creatures including skeleton shrimp, glass shrimp, squat lobster, candy crab and bobtail squid can also be spotted by our talented guides.

Critter Seasons in Dauin

Some critters are seasonal, so if there is a specific animal you’d like to see during your stay, you may want to know when you have the best opportunity to see it.

Baby boom: February to May

The baby boom, the fabulous time when most critters have eggs or babies, typically extends from February to May. You have the chance to find cuttlefish eggs, pipefish with eggs and a lot of juveniles.

Meet our Critter eggs in Dauin

Frogfish February: February to June

Frogfish February has been given its name for a reason – frogfish are extremely abundant! To begin with there are lots of babies and you’ll find yourself scouring the sand for small orange dots which are frogfish the size of a needlepoint. Over the next few months they’ll begin to grow, and by the end of June we start seeing a little less of them. However, frogfish are always common in Dauin – these are just the months when we see more!

Meet our critters in Frogfish February

Octopus October: October to January

Octopus season typically begins in October and usually lasts for a couple of months. This is when octopuses mate, which means that they are more visible on the reef and on the sand. You can see many unique species including mototi, mimic, wonderpus, hairy, blue-ringed, algae and many more including the large common octopus. If you’re lucky you may even catch them mating!

Meet our Critters in Octopus October

Please understand this is just a guide, and depending on water temperature and other factors, seasons can vary.

Do we see bigger animals?

Of course! Here in Dauin, not only can we see incredible critters, but divers are also treated to a spectacular showcase of large marine animals. Glide alongside graceful green turtles hanging out in the seagrass beds. Witness schools of barracuda and batfish hanging in the expansive blue waters. Marvel at trevally and emperors, hunting in packs with predatory precision against the vibrant backdrop of the reefs.

However, the true highlight comes in the form of the majestic whale sharks, the gentle giants of the ocean, which occasionally grace the waters of Dauin with their enormous presence.

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Meet the Marine Life on the Atmosphere House Reef

We are fortunate to have access to one of the largest coastal sanctuaries in Dauin on our doorstep! Featured on BBC’s Planet Earth III, our house reef offers the chance to encounter a huge diversity of marine life.

Small critters on the house reef

Looking for small critters? On our house reef, critters can be found in the cracks and crevasses of the main reef extending down to 20 metres. Mantis shrimp, ghost pipefish, frogfish, and nudibranchs as well as mouth-brooding jawfish, pipehorses, flamboyant cuttlefish, and hairy shrimp can be found with the expert eye of our dive guides.

During the safety stop, our dive guides like to spend a lot of time in the seagrass, as it can sometimes be full of hidden creatures! Here you can find frogfish, nudibranchs, pygmy squid, pipefish, octopus, and the extremely tiny hairy shrimp – smaller than a grain of rice!

Night dives are spectacular and at 5pm in the afternoon, you can see the mandarin fish display its colors briefly!

Night dive in Dauin

Larger animals on the house reef

If you are more interested in larger marine creatures, you won’t be disappointed! Green turtles can often be seen munching on seagrass in the shallows. Dive a little deeper and you’re likely to see trevally and emperors scouring the reef in packs, searching for their next meal. Further north, large schools of barracuda can sometimes be seen hanging in the blue over an expanse of soft corals. Head further south and the reef continues after a sand patch where (non-venomous) turtle headed sea snakes can be seen searching the reef for an easy meal or coiled around coral bases and resting in the sand.

Green sea turtle eating

Come and see our famous frogfish!

We are extremely proud to have hosted a team of underwater film-makers from the BBC in 2022, to film a sequence of the episode Ocean in the Planet Earth III installment. Millions of viewers around the world listened to Sir David Attenborough in awe of the yellow frogfish on Atmosphere’s house reef, and his ability to lure prey and swallow it faster than you’d think possible!

Featured on BBC Planet Earth frogfish

Dive with turtles, big schools and colourful reef fish at Apo Island

Apo Island, located off the coast of Dauin in the Philippines, is home to the longest continual marine sanctuary in the Philippines and is renowned for its rich biodiversity. Snorkelers and divers are treated to vibrant coral reefs teeming with an array of marine life, including colourful reef fish, graceful green and haksbill turtles, schools of big-eyed trevallies (jacks), beautiful black and white sea kraits, and fascinating underwater critters.

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Apo Island is particularly celebrated for its resident sea turtles, which can be easily spotted gliding gracefully through the clear waters. Apo Island is a feeding ground for female sea turtles. The lack of poachers, decades of sanctuary protection and plenty of food ensures that turtles keep coming to Apo Island to feed. Occasionally we see a male turtle, but almost all of them are female. How to tell the difference? Male turtles have long tails like a lizard while female turtles have a very small tail.

There are ten dive sites around the island, each offering something different, from exhilarating drift dives to gentle shallow dives over hard and soft corals, often with vast schools of jacks to steep walls with cracks and crevices where you can find frogfish and nudibranchs.

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