Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Sipadan Island – Borneo Underwater Paradise
Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 2,000 feet or 600m from the seabed. It is located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo.
It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. Sipadan is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.
Normally rare diving scenes are frequently seen in the waters around Sipadan: schools of greenback turtles and hawksbill turtles nesting and mating, schools of barracuda & big-eye trevally in tornado-like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks.
A mysterious turtle tomb lies underneath the column of the island, formed by an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain many skeletal remains of turtles that have become lost and drown before finding the surface. ( Source: Wikipedia. )
Since the beginning of 2005, Sipadan has been under Parks & Wildlife management and there’s no longer any accommodation or dive operators on the island. The number of divers allowed at Sipadan is limited to 120 per day and there have been some complaints that this isn’t transparently or fairly enforced. There’s an ATM-equipped branch of Maybank opposite the mosque.