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Published: September 3rd 2009
We only had one morning, three dives, at Sipidan. In many ways it was a disappointment, after all the hype, but also in many ways it was really impressive.
What we did see, the coral, the fish, the sea life, was quite spectacular. The weather that day didn't make it an easy set of dives. The sea was pretty choppy and the currents underwater were strong in places. This didn't help with spotting the sea life, or with getting on and off the boat. Between dives, we were dropped off on Sipidan island, for a hour each break, and that wasn't fun in the rain. There is a toilet block, the remains of some old resort buildings, an army house and lots of open space. We were given food during each break, soggy fish sandwiches, hard boiled eggs and fruit.
Even with the island and surrounding reef having been declared a marine park, the reef is still in dire need of being left alone for a few years to recover, to regrow, as it is a bit patchy. Problems also come through from the island being territory in dispute, with at least Malaysia and the Philippines, if not Indonesia
as well, claiming ownership. Hence the military presence on the island. That and to try and combat illegal fishing around the reef, piracy and tourist kidnappings.
On a much more positive note though, we did see some neat stuff! The sharks may have been tiny, only 1-2m long, most of the turtles only seen from the boat (tide was wrong), and the school of barracuda small, but where there were fish, there were heaps. Again the first 6-7m of water was the best. We dived one spot with an awesome coral garden, the colours were fantastic!
We dived two sites over three dives. One site we dived twice due to the weather limiting where the boat could safely drop us off, and more importantly, pick us up again. One was Barracuda Point, the other was either Turtle Alley or Coral Garden (think we covered bits of both). We did see a big school of barracuda at Barracuda Point, along with a large school of Jacks / Trevally, but no turtles at Turtle Alley as they were in the shallows due to the tide. THe coral garden though, wow! Awesome colours, fish everywhere, so hard to show in the
photos, there was something different everywhere we looked.
The island is a pelagic (deep ocean) island so the coral drop offs are quite steep and dramatic, and go down to great depths. This brought the possibility of other, bigger fish to be seen - including the one we are both longing to see, a Hammerhead Shark. But not this time!
So once again, we'll leave you with some pictures. Hope you enjoy them.
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