Sharks and Turtles

Sipadan Travel Blog

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Green Turtle

People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Fleming (Denmark)

My first dives in Sipadan had been booked with a different dive company from my dives in Mabul, as Uncle Changs were fully booked. Therefore Scuba Junkies picked me up at 9am and we were soon making the 20 minute boat ride across to Pulau Sipadan. Just before we reached the island we had a really pleasant surprise when we spotted 5 dolphins only metres from our boat. We slowed down and watched them for a few minutes, this was surely going to be a great omen for the day ahead.

Our first dive was down to 35 metres and the depth soon paid off as we encountered a Leopard Shark swimming some 10-15 metres below.

School of Barracuda
The visibility was poor to average, but Fleming our dive master informed us that for Sipadan the waters were disappointingly murky due to currents, weather and coral spawning. Still, it was a great start and only minutes later we encountered our second type of shark as a White Tip Reef Shark went gliding past. We spent approximately 20 minutes below 30m looking for the bigger fish, before slowly ascending and encountering turtles and a lot of smaller things including moray eels and scorpion fish around the 10m mark.

After an hour surface interval we made our way just off the shore to the second dive site called Barracuda Point - no points for guessing what we were trying to see here! The dive started very well as we encountered a large school of batfish and then turtles, before descending down to around 30m again.

Moray Eel
Around halfway through the dive, the moment we had been waiting for occured as we ran into a huge school of Barracuda. The current was pretty strong, so it took a lot of energy just to stay in the same area and swim up amongst the huge school. It was a realy cool experience to be in the centre of a school of such majestic creatures. Eventually i let the current take me away as my flippers were giving me serious blisters on my 2 middle toes. On the rest of the dive we spotted our 3rd and 4th types of shark - the Grey Reef Shark and Black Tip Reef Shark, aswell as plenty of smaller species including 2 types of rare Leaf Fish, Moorish Idols, Triggerfish and Pufferfish.

We had another hour surface interval in which time we had our lunch and had a little look around the island. It became off limits for people to stay on the island when an Islamic religious group kidknapped some tourists a few years back.

School of Humphead Parrotfish
Nowadays the army are based there, which is a crying shame.

The last dive of the day was at Turtle Cave, again quite explanatory what was there! As we dropped into the water we were greeted by 2 huge schools of Humphead Parrotfish racing in our direction. One school passed a few metres above us, whilst the other one passed straight through us. It was really remarkable and quite rare as they only come up to the surface once or twice a week. After this bonus, we headed deeper down to the cave.

I had seen pictures of the cave before, which runs underneath the island and is the resting place for hundreds of turtles who have strayed in, become disorientated, been unable to navigate their way out and drowned. At the entrance there is a warning sign and once you progress more than 30m inside, it all becomes a little disorientating.

Turtle Cave
The only way to get your bearings is to look back at where you came from, to see the fading light in the distance. We spent 5 minutes in the cave before we made our way back out and again encountered a few sharks, the coolest been a white tip that was sat on the bottom. To finish our dive off, we went to about 7m to check out some of the coral and also came across Harlequin and Oriental sweetlips and a lionfish.

The whole trip was outstanding and i can only imagine what it would be like with 60m visibility instead of 15-20m. It was clear why Jacques Cousteau was so charmed by the diving here and why it holds a 5 star rating in the diving community. I was even more thrilled that i had booked another dive for 2 days time as there was still the possibility of spotting Hammerhead Sharks and Hawksbill Turtles.

Back on Mabul and Julia was also in a great mood, as she had passed her Open Water course and also seen loads of interesting things on her 2 dives, including Blue Spotted Rays and Cuttlefish.

White Tip Reef Shark
We spent the evening sat on the outside deck, comparing notes and excited about our first dives that we would be doing together on the 3rd. Uncle Changs band made their regular appearance to get the party started, whilst the rum was once more flowing 'free'ly in all aspects.

UNCLE CHANG'S SIPADAN SONG

1. There's an island in the Celebes Sea,

The name's Sipadan you must go and see,

If you're a diver and you want the best

Come go along and we'll do the rest!

CHORUS: Well I'm glad to say the drop offs ok,

Barracuda points not far away,

Lobster Lair is also there

And the Hanging Gardens are very rare!

2. Diver down at the water side

Looking at the drop off with gaping eyes

Wondering whats there down below

Is it Nobby Clarke or Jacques Cousteau!?

CHORUS

3.

Green Turtle
There's Turtle Skeleton in Turtle Cave

You can go and see if you're feeling brave

Dive right in until it ends

But don't stay too long or you'll get the bends!

CHORUS

4. White Tip avenue and Turtle Patch

The Coral Gargen - There is no match

Soft coral, hard coral and see whips too

Tropical Fish to amaze you!

CHORUS

5. Jacques Cousteau and Calipso came

Oh...ze... micro paradise he did acclaim

Diver in silver up and down the reef

Cameras were clicking there was no relief

CHORUS

6. Well sad to say you're leaving tomorrow

Sipadan Island will be far away

I know that when you leave her shore

There'll be memories in your heart forever more!

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Green Turtle
Green Turtle
School of Barracuda
School of Barracuda
Moray Eel
Moray Eel
School of Humphead Parrotfish
School of Humphead Parrotfish
Turtle Cave
Turtle Cave
White Tip Reef Shark
White Tip Reef Shark
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Dolphins
Dolphins
Moray Eel
Moray Eel
Bearded Scorpion Fish
Bearded Scorpion Fish
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Harlequin Sweetlips
Harlequin Sweetlips
School of Batfish
School of Batfish
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Grey Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Grey Reef Shark
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
School of Barracuda
School of Barracuda
School of Barracuda
School of Barracuda
School of Barracuda
School of Barracuda
Camera man with a Green Turtle
Camera man with a Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
Leaf Fish
Leaf Fish
Leaf Fish
Leaf Fish
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
School of Fish
School of Fish
School of Fish
School of Fish
Unicorn Fish
Unicorn Fish
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
School of Humphead Parrotfish
School of Humphead Parrotfish
School of Humphead Parrotfish
School of Humphead Parrotfish
Entrance sign to the cave
Entrance sign to the cave
Oriental Sweetlips
Oriental Sweetlips
Lion Fish
Lion Fish
Moorish Idol
Moorish Idol
Giant Clam
Giant Clam
Sipadan
photo by: Deats