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Sipadan is a protected* area


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#1 ajay

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 05:24 PM

Hello friends. Just want to report about our dive trip to Sipadan in Jan. The diving was pretty good, though the waters were slightly cool for me (although not for the young S African boy who was diving with us in shorts). Before booking the trip, we were told by Mabul Water Bungalows (where we stayed) that they could only gurantee one day-trip to Sipadan during our six days of stay. But January (and should I say, these last couple of years) is off-season, and we managed to go pretty much every day to Sipadan island. I think part of the reason is that this area has seen several kidnappings/shootouts over the last couple of years (I was told, four incidents spread over four resorts, although here in Hong Kong papers we only saw coverage of the young lady from China who was taken by her kidnappers to Philippines, and later released after perhaps ransom was paid). Anyway, all this hasn't really deterred the brave Chinese: over half of the people staying at MWB over our trip were snorkelers from China. This probably explains why MWB has created additional wooden frames as artificial reef over almost 100m along the shallow waters off their resort. I am sad to say that the real cost of these kidnappings shows up pretty clearly -- now there are four armed guard on this, and I'm sure, every other resort, 24-7.

 

About the diving -- it was very good to be back in Sipadan. The schools of baracuda, jacks and bumpheads were there. The leoprad sharks were missing, but it seems there a lot more white tip and grey reef sharks than the last time I was there, a decade ago. We took the opportunity to dive into turtle cavern this time -- I havent' dived any caves before except the one in Palau, and got to say this one is pretty interesting once you stop thinking about the poor turtles who suffocated to an early death here.

 

Here is a link to my trip report and images. And a couple of images to add some color to this post :-).

 

turtle-cavern-05755.jpg

bumphead-parrotfish_5928.jpg

 

 

Kind regards,

Ajay.



#2 kc_moses

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Posted 09 February 2015 - 08:57 AM

Hi Ajay,

 

Thanks for the report! Did you actually go into the Turtle Cavern? I thought it's closed because about 6 years ago a Taiwanese die there. I'm very interested to check out the Turtle Cavern, and I don't think dive operators bring people there any more.

 

Moses



#3 ajay

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 01:31 AM

Hi Moses,

Yes, we went into turtle cavern. MWB charged us extra (around USD100 each) for this dive. We did a briefing on the night before, basically watch a video, and then go through the dive plan (there are a few extra procedures, since we go down with an additional tank, which is clipped to the rope at the mouth of the cave -- we pick it back when we exit the cave). I'm not aware of the death or the circumstances of that case either. I think it's a fairly easy dive actually -- there isn't a maze, the cavern is large; and there is a tiny but visible window which I think anyone can locate in a few minutes by just going along the cave wall -- this window gives a clear and easy reference to the entry/exit channel. Of course, we were two divers following our DM, so we were just following the man :-). I think he said he's been doing this dive only 3-4 times a month.

 

By the way, although I've been calling it 'Turtle cavern', the map tells me it's 'Turtle tomb'.

 

Ajay. 



#4 kc_moses

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Posted 11 February 2015 - 08:52 AM

Thanks Ajay, yeah "Turtle Tomb" is the correct name. Now you're making me really interested as USD$100 is not bad. I'm side mount certified, how long was the dive? I know there are only 3 large chambers and it's a fairly straight forward cave, probably 20m in?



#5 ajay

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Posted 12 February 2015 - 05:59 PM

Hi Moses, I think we were in there for around 40 min or so.. could've been longer -- they planned for us to start the exit when we reach 130bar, but we really felt no pressure from the DM about time. Much of the time inside the cave we're at 10-12m, so in fact you don't really use that much air. You're right about the vave -- ~20m channel to enter the cavern, and just one big main chamber with a couple of smaller chambers. Straightforward. I woldn't go all the way to Sipadan for this dive, but the other diving was pretty good also.

 

cheers, Ajay



#6 tdpriest

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Posted 18 February 2015 - 03:03 AM

... there isn't a maze, the cavern is large; and there is a tiny but visible window which I think anyone can locate...

 

There is something of a maze, if you go right on entering the large cavern (although Cousteau certainly managed to make it look more impressive than it is, I'll grant). It has silted out, sometimes if a turtle or fish is trapped inside. It's a proper cave dive, and needs a line...


Edited by tdpriest, 18 February 2015 - 03:06 AM.


#7 ajay

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Posted 18 February 2015 - 10:38 PM

Good point..  let me modulate my opinions a bit.. by and large, I think the map shown on this website (link below) is close to what we dived:

http://www.planeth2o...urtle_Tomb.html

 

But then I started thinking.. there were definitely some narrower cavities (tunnels?) behind one or two of the skeletons where I'm sure we didn't quite poke our heads inside. Maybe there are even some more smaller tunnels inside that we didn't explore at all? This calls for a revisit, I think :-).

 

Ajay.



#8 JamesR

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Posted 16 March 2015 - 07:57 AM

A few of us did a dive in turtle cave in 2011. Max depth was 80' in the chamber with the skeleton up on the shelf. Did you see the marlin skeleton as well? We did run our own lines, attached to the sign at the entrance. 


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#9 ajay

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Posted 16 March 2015 - 11:27 PM

Yes, the marlin skeleton is still there -- on the ledge along the cavern (before entering the tomb). I think it was placed there by a DM. I suppose the cavern shelters it from any swells/currents, so it's not moved much, if at all.



#10 lennycliffbanger

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Posted 01 June 2015 - 09:52 PM

I had a chance to witness the underwater of Sipadan. You may want to have a look: http://lennycliffbanger.com/p52298235


Edited by lennycliffbanger, 01 June 2015 - 09:53 PM.