Posters for marine wonder campaign Bholdex ‘23 to bring out Bohol underwater wonders to behold

By Rey Anthony Chiu | 06:42 AM April 17, 2023

Underwater photographers from all over the country and even abroad strap in their dive suits and SCUBA dive gear or free dive deep, to compose the best entries to the open and compact class categories in the First Bohol Loop Dive Expo (Bholdex) underwater photo contest, which opened last Friday, at the Villa Tomasa Q Resort here in Alona Panglao.

Cameras could either be the expensive contraptions and accessories resembling underwater robots favored by published and professional photographers, or those with fixed lenses, single lens reflex and mirrorless: all are game for beginners, intermediate and open class categories submitting their choice shots.

The underwater photography would be judged according to creativity (20), originality (20), clarity and quality (40), and content (20).

The underwater photography is the highlight of the Boholdex 2023, a 15-day dive expo that brings the competitive underwater clickers to newly opened dive sites: their winning shots to become Bohol’s newest poster-material for visit Bohol’s new frontier campaign, according to event organizers.

Competition entries accepted are macro and supermacro shots featuring close-up or extreme close-up shots of small subjects and marine life, fish portrait or a close-up picture of a fish, nudibranch high resolution shot, marine behavior that feature any display of marine behavior like breeding and feeding and wide-angle shots of the under water wonder.

For so long a time, Bohol dive sites were always associated with Panglao, Balicasag and Pamilacan, to Cabilao. With the rising number of divers coming to Bohol, these known dive sites are becoming congested that concerns of carrying capacity arise, shares Edgar Baylon, Vice president of Panglao Association of Dive Operators (PADO) and Bholdex co-organizer shared.

If we really want Bohol to have inclusive development, we have to spread the benefits of tourism, shares Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado, who sought the help of divers to look into the possibility of opening up new dive sites in the towns.

During the ribbon cutting and opening ceremonies, Bohol District 2 Congresswoman Vanessa Aumentado and Tourism Undersecretary Ferdinand Jumapao led the ceremonies joined by PDO, Bohol officials, tourism stakeholders and dive competition participants.

With the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bohol Provincial Environment Management Office and PADO, we went to the 12 towns, coordinated with the mayors and local officials to identify areas for assessment, talked with fishermen’s organizations managing fish sanctuaries and conducted dive assessment, demarcation and stock inventory to make sure that we are opening the diversity of Bohol’s magnificent underwater environment, Baylon added.

With the dive expo, Panglao Vice Mayor Noel Hormachuelos said it helps decongest their dive spots, even as diver participants still opted to stay in Panglao for the expo duration.

In this year’s Bholdex are dive sites in the towns of Dimiao, Valen-Kungcia, Garcia Hernandez, Jagna, Duero, Guindulman, Anda, Candijay, Mabini, Ubay, Tagbilaran City and Panglao, areas where the photographers scour the seabeds to seek out the perfect subject and patiently wait for a great composition.

Governor Aumentado, who stressed that for Bohol’s development to be sustainable, it has to respect the environment, also instructed organizers to assure that measures are in place to safeguard the environment.

We are adopting a system that we are using in Panglao for the Bholdex, the Advance Booking System assures that one divespot would only have enough number of divers to suit its carrying capacity, and ensure minimal environment impact, PADO president Ivy Bulaybulay-Kung shared.

To help in the dive spot management and rehabilitation as well as enhancement, an Environmental User’s Fee is also collected, so we could help fund regular site monitoring to allow local authorities to plan their dive site management.

Other than the underwater photography contests, Bholdex also has organized fun dive safaris, beach clean-ups, booth exhibits, scubasurero events, environmental lectures, coral transplanting and other allied activities that help sustain the marine environment. (rahc/PIA_7/Bohol)

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