To be honest, I didn’t choose to dive in Barracuda Lake. It just so happened that I was booking wreck dives in Coron, Philippines, and this was the first dive of the day chosen by the concession. I’d never heard of this dive in Barracude Lake before, making it quite a lucky coincidence, because it’s become one of the most memorable dives I’ve done to date – and I’ve done over 1,000 of them.
There’s something in the water at Barracuda Lake. What makes it unique is its rare mixture of three types of water – fresh, salt, and brackish. From a diver’s perspective, the changes in temperature, and clear haloclines and thermoclines is also interesting.
So on a cloudy day in June, off I went, dressed in the scuba gear that’s transformed me into a mermaid numerous times in the last few years. The dive guide assures me I’ll be comfortable diving in only a bikini, but getting cold easily, I decided to stick to my mermaid suit.
The water was a comfortable 28°C. I spent a few minutes floating on the fresh water surface, looking down into the impossibly clear water below. The guide asked if my buddy and I were okay, and upon receiving confirmation, we started to descend. The warm water closed in over my head, and the sound of my own breathing filled my ears as I slowly drifted down.
At about 14 metres, the water suddenly started getting a lot warmer, changing from 28°C to 38°C. Tilting my body, I straddled the thermocline, enjoying the strange sensation of the different temperatures around my body.
Then I slowly sunk lower, entering the hot, salty water. The warmth enveloped me like a thick blanket. It’s an uncanny experience to say the least, the warmth of the water became nearly suffocating to the point I was no longer sure if I could stand it. Then, it changed again slowly. As we ventured deeper, the water cooled down slightly and became more tolerable.
Finally, we reached the bottom. The bed turned out to be a soft, silky, silt-y sand. I stuck my hand into it and it sank easily into the silt, adding to the surrealism of the dive.
The three of us swam around the lake, playing around in the thermoclines and the difference in water temperatures found in the layers of water. There are rumours of one lone barracuda inhabiting the sit, and although we went looking for it, we had no luck that day. It is said that he usually hangs around some crevices created by the rocks on the far wall of the lake.
Hovering there and looking back across the lake, the water is so clear that you can actually witness a visual phenomenon – the halocline (the grey-black line where the cooler fresh/brackish water and hotter saltwater meet) – in the distance. On the way back we stopped to play around with some submerged rocks and tree stumps. I ended my dive in complete and utter awe.
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