FLY TO MANILA, capital of the Philippines, and drive south for three hours and you come to a region called Anilao. According to Spanish diver Carlos Trabal, Anilao, together with Verde Island, is the “centre of the centre of the Coral Triangle” in terms of biodiversity.
Trabal has been diving Anilao for 22 years and he makes a good case for it in what is very much a promotional book, though no less useful for that. He runs a travel operation specialising in the Philippines and Palau but Anilao clearly holds a special place in his heart.
English is not his first language and this quickly becomes apparent as you read through the book, although in this case (and partly because there aren’t that many words) this doesn’t particularly get in the way of comprehension.
The first section is dedicated to a photo-guide to commonly encountered marine life, most of which comes into the macro/critter category, especially shrimps and nudibranchs.
The pictures, taken by a variety of mainly Spanish photographers, are a little smaller than I would have liked.
The picture quality is variable but generally adequate for recognition, and the caption information is pretty much limited to name and maximum size. Too much space is devoted to individual photo credits, especially as these are all listed again in a separate section.
Much of the second half of the book covers 57 accessible dive-sites from Red Rock to Washing Machine, with helpful notes and map positions on each one. I particularly liked the distinctive pen-and-wash site sketches, a collaboration between Trabal and an unnamed Filipino artist.
If I was heading to Anilao – and I guess most macro photographers would welcome that chance – this book would be a useful companion, especially for the dive-site profiles.
Review by Steve Weinman

Trabal Publishing
ISBN: 9786219527002
anilaobiodiversityanddiveguide.com
Hardback, 286pp, 150 pesos (£24.50 approx)