Romblon: Hidden Gem of Marine Biodiversity

When we speak of Romblon, one thing comes into our mind is marble. As the marble capital of the Philippines, Romblon attracts many tourists to travel in this “marbelous” town in Philippines every year.

However, as we come to underwater scuba diving world, Romblon remains a hidden gem for underwater photographers who are particularly nterested in macro and super macro underwater critters.
Philippines is well known as the center of Marine Biodiversity in the world.

And Romblon is located in the Verde island passages, where marine biologists consider it as the “center of the center of Marine Biodiversity”.
Romblon is situated at the center of the Philippine archipelago. It is composed of three major islands (Tablas, Sibuyan and Romblon).

Underwater critters found here are very different and unique. No other places we visited before have so many tiny and weird nudibranchs, shrimps and fishes.
For many divers who come to Romblon, Phantom nudibranch, Butterfly nudibranch and Sashimi Shrimp are the three most popular critters.
There are great chances to find all three beautiful, wired and creepy critters all year round.
More amazingly, there are actually two species of Phantom Nudi, more than four kind of different Butterfly Nudis and various colors of Sashimi Shrimp and many many other special critters that Romblon can offer.

Phantom Nudi

Romblon became famous among underwater photographers when Melibe Colemani was first found in year 2015.
This unbelievable species was first found by the famous Nudibranch Legend Neville Coleman. And this Melibe was officially named after him in

Butterfly Nudis

If we call Phantom Nudi the weirdest nudibranch, then Butterfly nudi might be the prettiest nudibranch in the world.
Cyerce nigra, one of the butterfly nudis, is also called tiger nudi because it has the same yellow and black patterns as a tiger does.

However if we look at a nigra from the above, with golden spot and yellow lines on the cerata, it looks just like a flower in full bloom.
Other than Cyerce nigra, Romblon also has good chances to find 3-4 species
of butterfly nudis.

Sashimi Shrimp

Sashimi Shrimp is recently found in Romblon and quickly become a musthave highlight for night dive among underwater photographers because its special looking.

Pinky red body with green head which looks very much like a tuna sushi with a wasabi on the head.
It also has various colors on both the body and head. According to the 3P diving resort, they found more than 20 different color combinations in the last year!

Although most divers come to Romblon for the famous phantom and butterfly nudibranchs, everyone is surprised by the diversity of critters
in Romblon.

It’s like a hidden gem waiting for us to explore.
Some photographers even resemble Romblon as Lembeh 30 years ago.

There’s one major dive resort, The Three P diving resort, that caters to photographers.

Cyerce nigra

How to get there?

There are many ways to get to Romblon. The easiest way of getting Romblon is via ferry.
There are regular ferries from Romblon to Batangas twice per week.
The trip would take around 9 hours to get on Romblon island.

Another way is to take a flight from Manila to Tablas Island (IATA:TBH). The flight time is about 1 hour. Then get the pickup service from the airport to dive resort which takes 2 hours.

WORDS by Liang Fu & Weiwei Zeng PICTURES by Liang Fu

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