Exploratory Dive

Sulu Garden Foundation conducts an exploratory dive to locate seamounts in Miag-ao.

July 1, 2022

Right image. (From left to right) PSSG. Binobo, Mr. Santos and Sgt. Maj. Cinco.

Miag-ao, Iloilo.

The undersea world is always a source of fascination and dread.  There are legends of the old and also unrecorded local knowledge.  Many years ago, there were many discussions about the sea with then Miag-ao Vice Mayor Joerey Noble and Jonathan R. Matias about underwater seamounts beyond the shores.  Thus, began our curiosity about what may be found under the sea.

The search of the seamounts. Last June 25, 2022, the Sulu Garden Foundation (SGF) conducted an exploratory dive to locate the seamount called “pungtud.” It is an unknown underwater structure often talked about by Miag-ao’s fisherfolks.  It is a narrow area in the middle of the sea where they can anchor on three adjacent locations while the surrounding area is already very deep.  Days before the actual dive, SGF’s Senior Science Officer, Ms. Norielle Diamante, went to the shoreline community to find fishermen who may have idea as to where the exact location of this “pungtud.” The first fisherman that accompanied us to the sea was Mr. 

Allan Nemiada of Brgy. Sapa. We went last June 12, 2022.  He could not locate the exact location of “pungtud,” but he brought us to the area where it can be found. The next day was another attempt from Barangay Mambatad with a fisherman, Mr. Allan Montalbo, who accompanied us farther from the first location.On June 23 and 24, 2022, we tried again to locate the seamount using a depth sounder with the help of a Mr. Donald Montalbo, a fisherman from Barangay Baybay Norte. Although we have located the site, it was not possible to determine the actual depth because our sounding equipment was effective only down to the range of 79 meters.  GPS coordinates were taken of the three seamounts.

The Dive. Three professional scuba divers participated in the exploration: Mr. Edmund N. Santos, Project Manager of Sorsogon Scuba Tolda Project at Sorsogon City; Sgt. Maj. Martin A. Cinco of the Philippine Army; and PSSG. Michael B. Binobo, Tactical PNCO PNPTI of the Regional Training Center 6 at Bakyas, Mansilingan, Bacolod City. Jump off time was at 8:30 in the morning of the 25th of June.  The first dive was on the location of the first GPS coordinate.  However, we were not able to confirm the top of the seamount because their dive register was already showing that they are beyond the allowed safe depth for scuba (usually 30 to 40 meters).  The team move to the next recorded GPS location. Unfortunately, even the apex of the mound was too deep, registering at 261 ft. or 76 meters from the water surface.

Results.  Although it was not possible to see the underwater features by scuba, the team was able to mark the locations of the three seamounts.  The preliminary dive was the deepest ever done by our three professional divers at

Left image is the Sulu Garden Foundation staff with Mr. Montalbo in search of the “Pungtod.”

about 60 meters.  We plan to return again to “pungtud” with better equipment to map the actual terrain of the seamounts.  The seamounts are too deep for recreational diving. But, future dives with more high technology dive equipment might reveal new discoveries.

Below is the map showing the location of the seamounts. The “pungtod” is 2.8 kilometers away from the shoreline of Barangay Mambatad.

Below are some of the pictures during the exploratory dive.

Our warmest thanks to the scuba divers who went out their way to assist us in this exploration.

Written by: Senior Science Officer, Norielle Diamante (See profile)

Let us keep helping

We need your donations to keep helping the community in Miagao.