Yellow anthias , soft and black corals adorn the walls of Napantao Fish Sanctuary in San Francisco

(Yellow anthias , soft and black corals adorn the walls of Napantao Fish Sanctuary in San Francisco)

By design of nature, the Philippines’ coral reefs are blessed as one of the world’s richest in marine diversity. This could never be truer than here in Southern Leyte. Pristine reefs teeming with a wide variety of hard and soft corals, which include black corals, sea whips, the wildly-colorful dendronephthya soft corals, massive table corals, brain corals, huge barrel sponges, among others, thrive mostly along Sogod Bay, from imasawa Island to Tangkaan Point and all across to Benit, San Ricardo, and even beyond.

Diving started here in an effort by the government to rehabilitate Sogod Bay. Fish sanctuaries were established in all municipalities, and through the years, some of these fish sanctuaries became popular dive sites, with sheer drop-offs and deep walls, offering an exhilarating full-color aqua tour for divers and underwater explorers.

It seems that almost every marine creature, big or small, can be found in its waters. From colorful reef residents like angelfishes, butterfly fishes , groupers, napoleon wrasses to the pelagics—jacks, tunas, barracudas- to sea turtles, dolphins, eagle rays, and the biggest of them all, the whalesharks.

Not to be outdone are the colorful little creatures-- such as nudibranches, pygmy seahorse, frogfish, mandarin fish, harlequin shrimp and many others— whose peculiar sizes, shapes and colors have made them a much-sought-after subjects in macro photography.

Today, there are more than twenty dive sites in Sogod Bay alone.

Diving in Southern Leyte is simply a world class underwater experience, and , much still remain to be explored in this province in Eastern Visayas.