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Scuba Diving at Sipadan Island, Borneo
Dive Site: South Point
Location: Sipadan Island
Description: Reef / wall
Depth: 52 metres (171 feet)
Visibility: 15 - 30 metres (50 - 100 feet)
Our first dive on Sipadan and what a way to start! As with all the diving off Sipadan this was a deep wall dive with the wall dropping away at an almost vertical angle into the depths. We had elected to leave our cameras behind and make this a deeper, off the wall dive specifically to look for hammerhead sharks. The divers who had been here earlier that morning had seen a school of around 40 hammerheads off the point in the blue. The viz wasn't fantastic due to recent monsoon run-off from the mainland and some stormy weather. We had about 15 metres nearer the surface, however once we dropped below 40m this opened up to a good 30m plus.
We started our dive by heading down the steep wall to a depth of 50m and were soon rewarded with a white-tip reef shark, which cruised along the reef far above us. Within the first 5 minutes of our dive my buddy pointed excitedly up and there it was - a single, 3 metre, manta ray. We ascended right below it to a depth of around 30m, where this graceful giant blocked out the sun for a few moments. After several minutes we turned to head in the direction of the rest of the group and saw 2 more, much smaller, mantas playing off the point. Awesome! Back to the reef where we were greeted by a blue octopus and several more white-tip sharks. As we got shallower it became apparent that the stories we had heard about the turtles of the Sipadan were just rumours. There were far, far more of them than in the stories and articles I have heard and read in the past.
South Point is one of the sheerest wall dives and is dived from a boat. Most dives are a 5 minute boat ride from the main boat jetty, and South Point, as its name suggests, is the most southerly dive site on Sipadan, about 10 minutes boat ride from the dive Center. The fact that you are dropped off and picked up by boat means that the current, even when strong, is rarely a concern as you simply head in the same direction as it. The reef walls boast some fantastic coral formations and the reef curves over towards the island beaches and flattens out in the top 6-7m, making a neat platform for the turtles to rest on. Look closely - you could miss 10 or 20 of them as you drift lazily by.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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