24 August 2008

Sipadan Dive Trip 08 - 4 Jan Day 3

Day 3 - 4 Jan

Dive 4 - Turtle Tomb, Sipadan

We woke up at 5am to prepare for our dawn dive, my very first wall dive! The early bird catches the worm and hence we had to set off early to Sipadan to catch the dawn action of marine creatures.
Turtle Tomb is the mid-point between Drop-off and Barracuda Point; we descended at 6am into the darkness of sea. The wall was on our right, deep blue to the left. It felt quite sinister since the bottom and left was pitch dark. Had to constantly monitor the depth to avoid going too deep.
Was quite apprehensive with this new experience and it didn't help that we were finning against the current towards Barracuda Point, our supposedly destination to catch barracudas.
Half-way, our dive guide Don Don decided to turn back as it was quite futile trying to fin against the current, so we drifted backwards to the Drop-off.
And surprise surprise, towards the end of the dive, we spotted a huge school of Jacks in a vortex and congregating near the Drop-off.Have never seen such a big school of fish before; the photo showed only a partial view.
In the midst of it all, a giant trevally, shark and even turtle joined in the action. All of us basically stayed there for a good 10 mins watching it all happening right before our eyes before ending the dive.

What a visual treat to end our otherwise uneventful dawn dive.

After the dawn dive, the speedboat dropped us at Sipadan Island for our surface interval. Hot drinks and biscuits were available for us to replenish some energy before the next dive.

Dive 5 - Barracuda Point

After sufficient rest, we were all ready for our next wall dive at Barracuda Point. We descended to around 19m; visibility was good at around 30m since the sun has risen.

Lot of turtles were resting or swimming among the corals. They seemed unperturbed by our presence, perhaps they were already accustomed to curious divers and flashing of cameras.

That was me!
We managed to catch a school of large Bumphead Parrotfish.
All the divers started crowding round them to take photos and they seemed quite intimidated and couldn't move forward. LOL.

Heard that big groups like this only gathered in the mornings... not sure about this fact.

We finned to a valley, where several white-tip reef sharks were resting. Contrary to scary tales of sharks being aggressive; these were quite harmless. Basically they just laid quietly around for us to take photos.
All too quickly, our dive guide sounded to us that the chevron barracudas had appeared. It was quite a big school, in a vortex, almost like the famous hurricane that we heard so much about.

It was such a beautiful sight, wished I could be swimming in the eye of the barracudas hurricane. On second thoughts, maybe not... just admiring them from a distance was good enough for me, otherwise I might get carried away.

Dive 6 - Oil Rig, Mabul
After all the pelagic action, our 3rd and last boat dive of the day brought us to the Oil Rig near Mabul Island. This site is a haven for macro and muck-diving. We had to keep our eyes wide open to spot the well-camouflaged muck residents. Once again, our dive guides Don Don and Linda knew exactly where to find them. We were joking that either they had an underwater street directory or they had them in their pockets, took them out and placed them randomly around. LOL.
One good example was the Pygmy Seahorse. We could never find it by ourselves since the tiny creature (only about 10mm) was so well-camouflaged among a sea fan. In fact, we had a hard time focusing the camera lens to take a proper shot as it was too tiny. Amazing.

In fact, Don Don showed us another Pygmy Seahorse on another sea fan but all the photos turned out too blur as the camera couldn't focus at all.
We were happy to spot many species of nudibranch never seen before in other dives. Sea slugs are known as butterflies of the ocean, how apt.

An aggressive ribbon eel which seemed disturbed by our presence.

Tiny lobster, looked delicious? Nope, divers are not allowed to take anything from the ocean.

After about 50 mins bottom time, we completed our 3rd and last boat dive of the day. It was only quarter past 12 noon. We made our way back to the resort, where we could laze the rest of the afternoon or go for more diving at the House Reef.

Dive 7 - Mandarin Valley, Kapalai House Reef

Yep, how could we not dive when we were already here? After lunch and rest, we entered Mandarin Valley again at around 2.45pm. This time, hubby and I decided to explore on our own instead of following our group.
It was really relaxing as there wasn't much current and we could take our time to uncover the muck residents at our own pace.
Many different species of grouper were spotted; some of them could make good meals for the table. Opps, evil thoughts again!

Cute little yellow boxfish which darted around trying to avoid our camera.
Had a better look at the crocodile fish, queer looking indeed.
Spotted a large cuttlefish, swimming gracefully past us.
Before ascending, hubby spotted this stonefish. Could not make out the shape initially. I told myself to be careful and not poke around using my bare fingers less it was a poisonous fish like the stonefish. Good thing I brought a pointer.
Dive 8 - Mandarin Valley, Kapalai House Reef (Sunset dive)

We decided to go for the sunset dive to hunt for the Mandarin Fish again. After waiting for 15 mins at a likely spot, we gave up. No luck.
Decided to re-visit the tyres for the Frogfish since I didn't have a good look the first time.
With our touchlights, I had a closer and better look. There were lots of warts on the body of the frogfish. The fins at the left and right side of the body resembled 'legs'. The neighbour that was missing the previous day was back home.
When we tried to touch it, it actually shifted using its 'legs' (fins), or was it crawling? So cute. Wondered why it was named the frogfish or anglerfish.
We also spotted a large bumphead parrotfish, hmmm they thought they only appeared in the mornings?
With all the excitement of our 5 dives clocked in one day, we were totally tired and went to bed early.

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