Spectacular Sipadan *Video*

Sipadan, Malaysia’s only oceanic island, is located in the Celebes Sea off the coast of Borneo. The island is formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcano. A national marine park, Sipadan is protected and no one is allowed to live on the island. Only a limited number of daily permits are sold to dive the reef.

With one of the richest marine habitats, Sipadan has a reputation as one of the top scuba diving spots in the world. It is host to more than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of corals. The waters are known to be frequented by green and hawksbill turtles, all varieties of shark, especially hammerheads, and rays.

Here I am between dives taking a break on the island of Sipadan:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Erin at Sipadan

Turtles & Fish

On my three dives, I was lucky enough to see an enormous school of barracuda (like hundreds of fish the size of one of my legs!) that formed a tornado-like formation – really spectacular! I was tempted to swim right into the middle of it. (But I refrained. Like I said, each fish was like 2-3 feet long). I also saw loads of turtles, including some enormous ones. Truly awesome!


(un)Fortunately, I didn’t see any hammerhead sharks, but I did see a ton of black tips. After one dive I told my dive buddy I saw 8 sharks. He told me he saw at least double that, which was slightly worrying. I mean, I know there are many more sharks down there that I can see. But the fact that I didn’t notice half of them during a dive is a bit disconcerting.

Just check out my friend Denno’s pictures of the shark and fish = So Cool! (I wonder if this was one of the sharks I saw or one I didn’t see….)

Coral Gardens

The corals on Sipadan were in fabulous shape – truly some of the best I’ve seen in the world. Corals here include soft corals, large boulder corals, large leathery corals and staghorn corals. The reef fish include damselfish, jacks, parrotfish, soldierfish, squirrelfish, tiny Anthias, Fire Gobies, Chromis, Emperor, Yellowmask and Sixband angelfish, Rainbow Runners, Golden Rabbitfish, Groupers, Coral Trout… the list goes on!

It was such a treat to see healthy colorful corals. Unfortunately, just outside National Park, the corals aren’t faring as well. Fishermen are still using dynamite to kill mass amounts of fish and subsequently the surrounding coral.

Paying for the Privilege

Now, diving Sipadan is pricey – usually about $240 a day. Part of the fee is because of its remote location and so the price reflects the price of petrol to get the boat out to the dive spot. Also there’s the National Park fee.

But most of the price reflects the fact that divers will pay just about anything to dive and the permits for Sipadan need to be reserved long in advance (each dive shop gets only a limited number each day).

So if you’re interested in going – have a flexible schedule or make a reservation in advance. You won’t want to miss this amazing underwater show!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 and is filed under Asia Pacific.

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