MANILA, PHILIPPINES–Puerto Galera’s unique marine life merited the intensive survey and exploration made by divers from France and Switzerland who participated in the recent 2nd Objectif Atlantide Underwater Investigation.

Mounted by the Department of Tourism – Dive Philippines in partnership with the French association Objectif Atlantide, two multiple record holder free divers went head-to-head against scuba divers to solve a mystery by exploring the unique marine life of Puerto Galera.

“In the Underwater Investigation, the participants followed clues that brought them underwater to take photos of species found around Puerto Galera. This experience teaches them that not only are there a lot of different species here, but also which kind they are,” said Objectif Atlantide founder Daniel Meouchy.

Team Scubaland’s Pauline Thomas and Aurelie Pineau emerged as this year’s winners, successfully defending their title from the competition’s first edition held in Cabilao, Bohol last year. The scuba-diving tandem bested 10 pairs of divers, including five-time world champion and four-time world record holder Arthur Guérin-Boëri and French national record holder Alice Modolo.

“Diving in the Philippines is very interesting because there are many species here. Every time we go into the water and come back to check our pictures, we learn a lot. It’s our second time to win the underwater investigation, so we’ll absolutely do it again! We need to keep our title,” shared Thomas.

Karine Cheurfa and Sophie Comminges of Team Esprit de la Plongée from Switzerland bagged the second spot while Hervé Pages and Martine Bonnevay-Aillaud of Team Têtes Bullées finished third.

The Philippines lies at the heart of the so-called Coral Triangle, home to more than three-fourths of the world’s corals, and more than half of the world’s coral reef fish. With 2,248,400 hectares of coral reefs, 500 species of corals and 2,000 species of fish, the country is part of the most fertile part of the triangle.

At the heart of the Coral Triangle and at the skirts of the Verde Island Passage is Puerto Galera and its rich biological treasures, stunning seascapes, and scores of marine species. The island thus makes for a perfect environment to host 2nd Objectif Atlantide Underwater Investigation underwater exploration.

In support of the DoT’s efforts to promote sustainability in dive tourism and raise awareness for reef protection and conservation, the participants spent the week to observe, survey, and photograph the “underwater rainforest” of Puerto Galera.

“Puerto Galera is a feast for the most adventurous spirit; with this event, we hope the French diving community has discovered the wonders of the Philippines’ waters. We will take this great opportunity to showcase the unparalleled beauty of our reefs and call to protect the vibrant biodiversity of our waters to the international community,” said DOT Tourism Development Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon, Jr.

The 2nd Objectif Atlantide Underwater Investigation was mounted in partnership with Objectif Atlantide, El Galleon Dive Resort and Asia Divers, and sponsored by Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards, Pier Uno Dive Resort, Resorts World Manila, and Belmont Hotels and Resorts.

The event was also supported by Plongeur.com, Subaqua Magazine, Chercheurs d’eau, PlongeeOnline.com, Plongee Infos, Plongez Magazine, Paradise-Plongee.com.