Sardine Run – Moalboal – 2017 Project

Author: Alin Miu

A new WEPA project is almost completed. Philippines Cebu region offers unique landscapes, gorgeous islands, memorable diving places, animals and fish of every kind, hospitable and smiling people.

In the next period we will present our experience with this unique ecosystem.

Moalboal – Pescador Island– Sardine run

The trip from Cebu to Moalboal was a heavy one, especially after a long-haul flight and a total of 16 hours on the route London – Dubai – Cebu. In theory there are only 112 km, but speed throughout the island of Cebu is extremely low, you can only drive around 30 km/h. Thus the road took us another 3 hours, at the best. Meanwhile it got dark and we weren’t able to see much of what the island has to offer. We just checked in, ate something and went to the much desired sleep.

The next morning we set off to explore the area and to establish contacts with the diving center.

One of Cebu’s famous diving area is located in the west of the island, around the village of Moalboal. It stretches over several kilometres along the coast and welcomes you with white sandy beaches, turquoise water and coral reefs. Although secluded and less popular than other diving destinations in the central Visayas, Moalboal is famous for its vertical walls covered with corals, starting from the edge of the beach.

Soft or hard coral walls are populated by schools of reef fish, one of the most interesting species that caught our attention was the Razorfish (Aeoliscus strigatus) or Shrimpfish, wandering around in small groups and hiding in the coral reef.

The real diving pearl is Pescador Island, which is just 15 minutes away, by boat. The story goes that few years ago giant schools of sardines appeared out of the blue, which then disappeared as suddenly. The following year, they appeared again and remained permanently in the area.


Same as the sardines in South Africa, the sardines of Moalboal attract a substantial number of predators, such as schools of tuna, mackerel, and occasionally, thresher shark. The difference between the two conglomerates of sardines is that South Africa is actually a migration phenomenon and their presence is seasonal, while in Moalboal sardines are resident for years, migrating only from Pescador Island to Panagsama beach.

It is a special underwater show with so many sardines, that you cannot see the sun. It is one of the marine phenomenon that we want to promote through our project and we are fortunate to have been able to experience this.


When we arrived, shoals of sardines were right at the edge of the beach, where the vertical wall  begins and slopes down to 600 meters deep. The surprise was that we could experience meeting the schools of sardines, but also turtles, sea snakes and many other creatures just 20-30 meters offshore. There is a snorkelling-friendly area, being a mild coastal area without large waves or strong currents, interested persons armed with mask, snorkel and fins can enjoy a unique experience starting a few meters from shore.

We were really surprised because we were out for snorkeling from the beach, in order to check the underwater photography equipment and the coral reef. Shoals of sardines while snorkelling, a sunny day and an underwater camera with a lens aperture of 204 degrees, they have made a nice debut of the expedition.

Diving at Pescador Island was quite spectacular by the richness of the creatures found there. Being a natural reserve and a nutrient-rich water, the coral reef was highly populated and the marine creatures were surprisingly large in size.


Although we have not had the opportunity to see predators as we wanted and as we expected, the experience was worth the effort to take a trip to Moalboal. About the abundance of marine life we will detail in a separate article, the result of our on-site documentation.

You can check the more Sardine run images HERE