Dive Site: Monad Shoal, Malapascua, Philippines

Thresher shark diving monad shoal at Malapascua The Philippines by Nigel Marsh for Diveplanit

Site Overview

Site Type: Seamount and coral reef
Depth: Top: 15MBottom: 30M
Location: East of Malapascua

Description

There are not many dive destinations in the world where everyone gets up at 4am to dive, but that is what happens every day on Malapascua so divers can explore Monad Shoal. Rising from a depth of 200m, Monad Shoal is a seamount that terminates 15m below the surface and is the best place in the world to see pelagic thresher sharks.

sponge diving monad shoal at Malapascua The Philippines by Nigel Marsh for Diveplanit

The rude early morning start is so the dive boat can reach Monad Shoal at dawn, a time when the sharks rise from the depths to get their morning clean. Jumping into the water it was still a little dark, but in the 30m visibility I could see the top of the seamount below. I followed the guide to the bottom, then over the edge, settling on a slope at 30m and peering into the dark blue water.

featherstar diving monad shoal at Malapascua The Philippines by Nigel Marsh for Diveplanit

I didn’t know how long it would take the sharks to arrive, or if they would arrive at all, so I surveyed the terrain, seeing abundant small reef fish, a moray eel and a colony of garden eels. The coral around me was pretty average, but there were a few nice sponges and numerous feather stars. Suddenly I saw a shape rising from the depths, at first I thought it was a reef shark, but then I saw the distinctive oversized tail, it was a pelagic thresher shark.

thresher cruising diving monad shoal at Malapascua The Philippines by Nigel Marsh for Diveplanit

As I watched the shark slowly patrolled the reef below, allowing a squadron of cleaner fish to pick at its flesh. It was then joined by a second and a third thresher. They all slowly parade in front of the assembled divers, then disappeared into the blue. We stayed at this location for another ten minutes and saw several more thresher sharks, some in the deep, but others passed above us in the shallows.

thresher cleaning diving monad shoal at Malapascua The Philippines by Nigel Marsh for Diveplanit

My guide then led me away from the group in hope of a closer encounter. As we waited a pair of mobula rays cruise by. Hammerhead sharks and manta rays are also seen at Monad Shoal, but we only saw a whitetip reef shark and a school of trevally. Just when we are about to head back to the shallows a thresher appeared from the deep. As we watched it did three circuits of the coral head in front of us, each time getting closer and closer. Its clean finished the shark disappeared into the depths, while we returned to the boat after an unforgettable encounter.

thresher overhead diving monad shoal at Malapascua The Philippines by Nigel Marsh for Diveplanit