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Photo by Jenjen Dumlao

IT’S called the Holy Grail of underwater photography, a much sought-after underwater species that tend to be elusive.

For so long now, the search for the Rhinopias has been going on, especially among the underwater photographers. Having studied the habitats and habits of the species, we are all convinced that it’s just out there in the Island Garden City of Samal.

Aside from the similar habitat, there was also the photograph of a long-ago sighting, a yellow one if I remember right.

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More than a decade passed before finally, the Rhinopias eschmeyeri was found by dive guide Pitan. Maeng or Ismael Lejarse, our dive guide-shop-owner-diver organizer in one, said thre is more than one there. But for the dive last Thursday, August 3, 2017, there was just the red one.

It wasn’t at the best location and situation, at that.

There was a strong current that made staying in one place difficult. It was also facing a patch of soft corals and some debris on top of the silt being stirred by the current. But, hey, it’s still a Rhinopias, and the situation just makes the find more challenging.

In order not to touch anything more than the ground I had to make a tripod of my body using the two fins and my free hand — the left — and control my buoyancy to stay above the soft corals and not flatten nor even touch them.

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Photo by Jenjen Dumlao

It’s been a while since I last dived because I couldn’t find companions for weekday dives. Apparently, now I have, and I intend to go back and pray that I chance on the purple Rhinopias frondosa.

In the meantime, I am happy with by Eschmeyeri.

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