Sipadan; Malaysia’s Underwater Paradise

July 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Sipadan is located in the Celebes Sea, east of the major town of Tawau in Sabah and off the coast of East Malaysia. Located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, Sipadan is 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 alone.

A shoal of Sipadan's fish

Chevron Barracudas off the cost of Sipadan

Sipadan island is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600 metres (that would be approximately 2,000 ft) from the seabed. For more than twenty years now Sipadan has remained the top dive destination in Malaysia and one of the world’s best dive sites. Recently, through promotions from the Sabah Tourism Board, Sipadan is now in the running for the New Seven Wonders.

Rare diving scenes are frequently seen in the waters around Sipadan: schools of green and hawksbill turtles feeding, nesting and mating, schools of barracuda and big-eye trevally in tornado-like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and the gentle giants – the whale sharks.

Green turtle exploring Sipadan's crystal waters

Green turtle exploring Sipadan's crystal waters

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. Contrary to popular belief, the turtle tomb is not the final resting ground for aged and dying turtles that enter the cave for their final rest, but of turtles that have become lost and drown before finding the surface.

A whirling shoal of Sipadan's fish

A whirling shoal of Sipadan's fish

The rich coral ecology and a balanced food chain promote great sightings of fish behaviors, making Sipadan a destination not just for tourists but for marine biologists and researchers. Unique behaviors include: turtles mating at shallow waters and laying eggs at the beach, white-tip sharks feeding in groups, rushing schools of fusiliers and banner fish escaping from frequent predators like the blue-fin trevally and dog-tooth tuna, schools of black snappers and spotted harlequin sweetlips having their lips and gills cleaned by cleaner wrasse and cleaner shrimps at cleaning stations, and so much more.

See some incredible footage of Sipadan’s ecosystem in this video:

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