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Scuba Diving at Mabul Island, Borneo
Dive Site: Paradise 1
Location: Mabul Island
Description: Reef / night dive
Depth: 15 metres (50 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
We dropped into the calm water, in the late afternoon, just off the end of the main jetty on Mabul Island and followed an old rope along the seabed to a small section of reef. Concentrating on macro life we were met by small anemones housing groups of clown fish and small clusters of raspberry stone coral where black and white damsels find protection. As we headed over the seabed there were huge groups of starfish and the skeleton of a turtle. Along the reef base we found the odd crocodile fish and a medium-sized giant moray surrounded by cleaning shrimps. As we watched, a cleaner shrimp scuttled over its nose and went about its business. Towards the end of our dive I felt the tell-tell jolt on my fins and turned to find a pair of titan triggerfish who had taken offence to our presence. For the next five minutes they took turns in launching a coordinated attack until satisfied we had been well and truly warned to stay well away - and we had!
We returned to this site a few hours later for a night dive and found a very different reef. The triggerfish had long since gone to bed somewhere in the protective reef. These fish which can grow very large in the Malaysian waters get their name from their dorsal fins. At night they burrow deep into the reef coral and lock their dorsal fins in place, like a trigger mechanism, keeping them firmly and safely in place from any nocturnal predators. Although I can't help thinking you'd have to be a force to be reckoned with to take on these feisty foes. During our night dive we saw a free-swimming banded moray eel and one of the largest red Spanish dancers I have ever seen, dwarfed only by one I saw once in the Red Sea.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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