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September 7th 2006
Published: September 10th 2006
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Pulau Sipadan

Alex and the dive boatAlex and the dive boatAlex and the dive boat

None of your thirty-diver juggernauts here ! It was just us two and the dive leader.
We're back in the steamy heat of Kuala Lumpur. After an extra day of not doing very much, we board a plane to somewhere which promises to be very special.

We're flying to North Borneo, to the Malaysian province of Sabah. Here, right near the border with Indonesia, where the Sulu and Celebes Seas meet, is Pulau Sipadan, reputed to be one of the world's great dive sites. Pulau Sipadan and a wealth of other tiny islands are dotted around the coast between the towns of Tawau and Semporna. We fly (Air Asia again !) to Tawau from KL before hopping in a minibus (complete with chickens in the back - sadly one of them succumbed to heat exhaustion, poor thing) to Semporna.

There followed two day of the most extraordinary diving we've ever done. There is no use writing about it - the photos will speak for themselves. I was lucky enough to find the underwater pressure case for our particular model of digital camera - a purchase which proved to be extremely worthwhile. Judge for yourself !

In addition to phenomenal diving, Semporna also boasts some gorgeous seafood - Alex I feasted on baked crab, roasted
Don't give me evils !Don't give me evils !Don't give me evils !

A malevolent-looking barracuda marauding above the drop-off around Pulau Sipadan. Hunting...these things move frighteningly fast.
slipper lobster...yum !

This will be a mainly-photos entry. Enjoy the piccies !

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Juvenile batfishJuvenile batfish
Juvenile batfish

A diver's favourite. As they grow, the long fins are lost and the fish become quite circular.
Fish or alien ?Fish or alien ?
Fish or alien ?

A massive puffer fish lying on the sandy bottom inside a small cavern. I always find these look a bit spooky.

On of my favourite photographs. A school of large pelagics circling near the surface.
What was He thinking ?What was He thinking ?
What was He thinking ?

...the Creator, I mean...and for you scientists, how on earth did this colourscheme evolve ? A Clown Triggerfish off Pulau Sipadan.
The Drop-OffThe Drop-Off
The Drop-Off

All around the circumference of Pulau Sipadan, a coral shelf about 5 metres deep suddenly drops away to more than 600 metres ! And all this swimming distance from the shore. This is what makes Sipadan one of the world's most amazing dive sites.
Flying in the seaFlying in the sea
Flying in the sea

The waters around Sipadan postively swarm with turtles. It's hard not have one in your field of vision at any time. This is a green turtle, gracefully swimming towards the surface to get some air.
Moorish idolMoorish idol
Moorish idol

...otherwise known as Willem Dafoe in Finding know the one !
Can't see the ocean for the fishCan't see the ocean for the fish
Can't see the ocean for the fish

A huge school just over the drop-off. You can duck-dive and swim along with them, they don't seem to mind.
Mwah !Mwah !
Mwah !

Two morays saying hello.
Floating islandFloating island
Floating island

Pulau Mantabuan.
Nudis !Nudis !
Nudis !

A couple of stunning nudibranchs cleverly spotted by Alex on the coral. The universal underwater sign for "nudibranch" involves a "flashing" movement (à la dirty mac). "Nudi"...geddit ? Yes I know it's very sad.

These sweet little fish look like a unrolled seahorse. They don't move much, and just lie still on the coral.
Is it a snake ?Is it a snake ?
Is it a snake ?

Looks a lot like one, but this is actually a fish, a banded snake eel. Which made me feel much better, given that sea-snakes are amongst the most venomous creatures on Earth...
Taking a breatherTaking a breather
Taking a breather

A young green turtle has a rest on a coral shelf. They are quite well camouflaged and it's easy not to spot one until you're right next to it !
Hello Mr TurtleHello Mr Turtle
Hello Mr Turtle

Another one of the squillions (better make that zillions) of turtles around Sipadan.
And who, may I ask, are you ?And who, may I ask, are you ?
And who, may I ask, are you ?

The large, liquid eyes and droopy eyelids make these green turtles look oddly human.
Makes sense...Makes sense...
Makes sense...

This is...a unicornfish ! One of the more self-explanatory fish names.
White-tip reef sharkWhite-tip reef shark
White-tip reef shark

Can you feel the speed ? Such amazing creatures. Even this harmless-to-humans species inspires respect !

11th September 2006

What amazing photos. I am pleased that you are including zoology along with my history and geography lessons!!
13th September 2006

Alright mate I hope you are going to bring one of them eels back to go in my tank!!

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