Verde Island Dive Safari
erde Island, Batangas is the epicenter of the World’s Marine Biodiversity. Verde Island lies between Mindoro Island and the main island of Luzon. The actual passage way is called Verde Island Passage. It has been declared by the Philippine Tourism Authority as one of the country’s marine reserves. The eponymous Verde Island, located right in the center of the strait, is one of the best diving places in the Philippines due to its pristine clear waters and nice under water view. Daily trips for scuba divers are made from Puerto Galera. Sites such as in Puerto Galera offers diving for all types of people from amateur to professional divers. the diving depth is very deep.
A team of marine conservationists declared in 2006 that the Philippines is the Center of Marine Biodiversity in the world and Verde Island Passage as the “Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity”.
Many threatened species which include sea turtles like hawksbills, olive ridleys, and green turtles; humphead wrasses, giant groupers and giant clams are present in the Verde Island Passage. However, there are no enforcement of ordinances and over-fishing is common. A short-lived ‘park fee’ scheme for the Verde Island drop-off dive site was soon dropped when it was discovered that the revenue was being used to buy better fishing gear and hence removing fish at a higher rate. Humphead wrasses are especially threatened and divers often go years without spotting a single individual. It was particularly noted the rare red fin wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis) thrives in Verde Island. I have personally experienced in 2014 that the tourist levy was in full operation when I landed at Puerto Galera though it is a small amount. The municipalities collect the fee and are responsible for its administration that includes support to community infrastructure around the area.