23 August 2008

Sipadan Dive Trip 08 - 3 Jan Day 2 - Part 2

Day 2 - 3 Jan

Dive 1 - Mandarin Valley (House Reef)

Time to rock and roll! For the very first dive, the local dive guides would always conduct an Orientation check out dive at the House Reef which is known as Mandarin Valley; so that we could get comfortable with our dive gears and navigate around. Subsequently, we could do as many dives as we wanted at the House Reef so long as we indicate on the whiteboard.

Our dive guide, Dhon (Don Don) and Linda first gave a briefing, then we were ready to take the plunge off the jetty! Mandarin Valley is a great site for muck diving and as the name suggests, we could spot Mandarin fish here.

Maximum depth was around 20m, unfortunately the visibility wasn't that good, at 8-10m only. There were several wrecks at Mandarin Valley.Don Don brought us to some tyres, apparently the tyres are homes to 2 Giant Frogfish.
I had never seen a Frogfish prior to this, so couldn't make out what this lumpy piece of thing was initially.
The Zebra Lionfish is quite common in the waters around this region.
My first time seeing Crocodile fish as well, also known as Giant flathead. I think it got its name because the shape of the head bears resemblance to a crocodile.

Colourful nudibranchs are aplenty in Sipadan.
We also spotted different species of grouper and lots of fusiliers, surgeon fish just below the jetty.

Dive 2 - Mid Reef, Kapalai
After one-hour surface interval time, we set off to Mid Reef. Mid Reef is a submerged reef shaped like pyramid just 2 mins away from Kapalai by speedboat, mainly muck diving.
Upon descent, we spotted 2 big Green turtles, and another close. This is to be the beginning of our many encounters with turtles. No wonder divers say that Sipadan is a turtle paradise.
Maximum depth was around 20m, visibility so-so at 10-12m.

Lots of colourful marine worms, nudibranchs, sea slugs, crustaceans, divers had to be alert and look out for these tiny creatures. Many times, our dive guides Don Don and Linda would clang on their dive tanks to alert us their whereabouts.
This porcupine was so adorable with its wide-eye innocent look.

Different species of eels are also quite common in Sipadan.
It was not easy trying to capture these tiny crustaceans on camera. So hard to focus as the anemone was swaying along with current and the shrimp was also crawling around trying to hide from us.

Good thing we had several more dives to practise our underwater photographer skills.

Dive 3 - Mandarin Valley (House Reef)

We did a sunset dive at Mandarin Valley to hunt for the elusive mandarin fish. Apparently, they are very shy creatures which only appeared at 6pm briefly. Only lucky and patient divers would be able to spot them.

Upon descent, we finned to a spot where the mandarin fish was known to appear and waited. Alas, it was not our day. Nevertheless, we had 2 more sunset dives to try.
As it got darker, visibility became poorer at around 5m only. Night time was where critters are active apparently. I guess we were not sharp enough, only spotted some shrimps, groupers, pipefish. Managed to spot a large lone barracuda, permanent resident of Kapalai Resort.
With 3 dives, we ended our day, went for a sumptuous dinner before retiring to bed early as we had to wake up 5am for our wall dive at Sipadan the next day.

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