SABAH – Diving in Paradise

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Sipadan - Diving in Paradise
Diving among schools of fish at Pulau Sipadan (Shutterstock)

SIPADAN ISLAND

Lying just off the northeast coast of Borneo is Sipadan, Malaysia’s only oceanic island. This magical isle was made famous by renowned French oceanographer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, in his documentary Borneo: The Ghost of the Sea Turtle. But green turtles are by no means the only creatures you’ll find here: Sipadan offers prolific marine life of all shapes and sizes.

Those with the Cavern Diver certification can explore the same mysteries that Cousteau and his crew did 35 years ago at Turtle Cavern. Inside lies a macabre chamber of skeletons belonging to turtles and dolphins that got lost in the labyrinth of tunnels, became disorientated and drowned.

Elsewhere, rare and peculiar fish species call Sipadan’s corals home, including porcupine pufferfish, clown triggerfish, unicornfish and Moorish idols. Giant moray eels lurk in their grottos, observing the traffic going past, while huge gorgonian sea
fans protrude like the plume of a proud peacock.

Hundreds of fearsome-looking barracudas sometimes form a grey wall from the sheer weight of their numbers. Bumphead parrotfish often rumble past in bison-like hordes. A night dive may yield a chance encounter with these giant fish: Bumpheads weave a transparent cocoon before they sleep to keep their scent from predators, and this nocturnal sight is as impressive as that in the daytime.

Batfish, hawkfish, groupers and coral trout are other common inhabitants, as are the resident whitetip reef sharks and grey reef sharks. Leaffish and the odd-looking crocodile fish might also be spotted. Corals crowd the reef in a riot of colour: Large black corals and barrel sponges vie for attention with gigantic soft tree corals, as well as anemones and their playful clownfish.

By Tourism Malaysia


For more stories from this issue,  get a copy of Asian Geographic Magazine No. 156 or subscribe at https://www.shop.asiangeo.com/.

ADEX Sabah Ocean Partnership Summit will be held on 18-20 August 2023 at Sabah International Convention Center (SICC), Malaysia.

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