Hundreds of meters of coral and turtles have been wiped out at Sipadan in a tragic accident involving a large barge and the local irresponsibility of whoever is managing the island. It is incredible ironic that dive resorts were pushed off of the island in an attempt to preserve Sipadan’s amazing marine life, only to result in the destruction of the very resource they were trying to protect. The beached barge was carrying steel and concrete mixing supplies, and so far, no one has reported why so many building supplies were on their way to Sipadan. FiNS Magazine has posted a stirring report written by Andrea and Antonella Ferrari:
Excerpt: An enormous steel barge carrying thousands of tonnes of coarse gravel, sand, steel tubes, iron mesh, prime movers, a large bulldozer and a gigantic crane — which had incredibly been allowed to anchor right in front of Sipadan’s legendary dropoff before unloading its cargo on the supposedly protected island — was pushed against the reef by wind, ending up beached on the island like some monstrous whale. In the process of being beached, the barge scraped clean thousands of years of nature’s delicate work between the old pier and Barracuda Point. The barge’s flat steel hull wiped corals away like a giant knife slicing through butter, leaving in its wake hundreds of square metres of unnaturally flat limestone, and a veritable wall of coral and debris piled up against the beach.
The damage is incalculable — one of Sipadan’s most precious and beloved spots, well-known the world over, is no more, transformed by a single inexplicable act of human carelessness into a grisly mass of broken and pulverised corals, shredded turtles and mounds of grey gravel suffocating what little is left of the legendary dropoff.
*UPDATE* The Sipadan dive operators have issued a statement on what has happened at Sipadan.