Mabul/Sipadan April 2000

   In the Easter holydays I went to Mabul/Sipadan east of Borneo. The two islands are separated only by half an hour race in a speedboat. I lived on Mabul which is situated on the continental shelf and with shallow water around it, whereas Sipadan is an oceanic island rising up from the abyss of the ocean.
   This gives a fantastic variation in ones experience of the diving holyday. Mabul is a heaven for the macro photographer with all the small and interesting critters, whereas Sipadan is big game, incredibly large scools of Barracuda, Humpback Parrotfish, Jacks, Sharks and I have never seen so many Seaturtles.
   Each day we had one dive on Sipadan and Easter Sunday, when we had just returned, muslim terrorists struck and took all residents of Sipadan as hostages. The poor turists and divers were first released many months later with a ruined life.

   To live on Mabul on the hotel with the name "Sipadan Water Village", is to experience the most relaxing feeling of luxury. A lot of smiling and friendly people takes care of everything in hotel, restaurant and divecenter. Their policy is: Divers are here to dive and enjoy, we take care of the tedious things.
   The divecenter is so well managed, that you leave your divegear in the boat and when you arrive for the next dive, your divegear is on the boat you booked - rinsed, checked, filled and ready to put on. To the right you can see the very fast RIB's that takes us to the divesites very quickly.

It's Sipadan in the horizon.

   The whole village complex is just as well managed, and as you can see, consists of many huts connected with footbridges. Underneath you can follow the marinelife - idyllic, romantic, nerve soothing and without radio or TV.
The food is asian and very very delicious.

Because of regulations to preserve Sipadan, this is the closest we were allowed to come as non-residents. This is Barracuda Point.

   Let's see some of the big game, that makes Sipadan so famous.

One meter long Barracudas
Congregating in large scools.

Giant trevally - over one meter long.

Humphead Parrotfish - again more than one meter in length.
- and when they congregate by the hundreds, it's awesome.

These allmost 2 m long Whitetip Reefsharks are wonderfully elegant.

Enormous Green Turtles about 1.5 m in length are seen everywhere.

The same with Hawksbill Turtle


Mabul and the neighbouring sandkey Kapalai is a heaven for macro photographers and others, that loves the charm of little critters. Here is a little collection of some of them.
But all my Butterflyfishes , Anemonefishes. and Flatworms & Nudibranchs are collected under these links.

   The diveguides were trained by Yoshi, a japanese marine biologist and master photographer, to find and identify all the small animals, down to millimetershort Squat Lobsters and almost invisible shrimps.
   Here are some Gobies, they are very difficult to photograph, because they dart into their burrow, when we come closer than two meters.    The Dart Gobies in this column lives in pairs without a shrimp; but the Shrimp Gobies in next column live in symbiosis with a shrimp, displaying one of natures little wonders, because the shrimp can dig out the burrow but has a bad eyesight, and the shrimp is a very watchful sentinel but can't dig.

Redfire Dart Goby

Scissortail Dart Goby

Blackray Shrimp Goby

Blotched Shrimp Goby

Pinkbar Shrimp Goby and the dark shrimp.

Smashing Mantis Shrimp

   Shrimps are sometimes difficult to photograph, because many of them are small and either well camouflaged or transparent, but this Mantis is 25 cm and visible. It has the faunas fastest knock-out movement with its elbows, it can easily break a finger, so again: Do'nt touch anything!!!

Anemone Commensal Shrimp

Bubble Coral Shrimp

   A little collection of Sea Stars

   In the family of Scorpionfishes they all possess long venomous spines on their dorsal and pectral fins, and a sting produces extreme pain.
Some of them are very well camouflaged, so be careful!
The Lionfish hunts by stealth, the others by camouflage and ambush. They suck small fishes in by opening the mouth lightening fast.

Bearded Scorpionfish.

Common Lionfish.

Spotfin Lionfish.

Reef Stonefish.

Red Paperfish.

White Paperfish.


   Here are some other camouflage specialists and suction feeders. But this family is not poisonous, and they are actually angling. They have a peculiar luring apparatus above the mouth, specialised in each species by mimicring the food source of its prey. With an expendable stomach and a big mouth, they can swallow prey longer than themselves.
The pectral fins are designed as feet, on which they slowly waddle around.

Gray Anglerfish.

Red Anglerfish.

Rust Anglerfish.

Yellow Anglerfish.

Octopus and Cuttlefish.

   The Cuttlefish seem to have 8 arms like the Octopus, but it conceals the 2 longest in the middle. With these tentacles it catches its prey with lightning speed.

The common Reef Octopus.

   The Flamboyant Cuttlefish to the right is not bigger than a fist with a lightshow constantly flickering over its body, slowly and clumsily walking on the bottom.
While I was watching it, a small fish who didn't pay attention to this lump of who knows, was caught with lightning speed by the two center arms.

Reef Cuttlefish.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish.

Moray Eels.

   I really like Moray Eels, aren't they cute?

Fimbriated Moray Eel.

Fimbriated Moray Eel.

Giant Moray Eel.

Whiteeyed Moray Eel.

Ribbon Eel.

Various beauties.

   First the richly coloured Triggerfish and then the little Longnose Hawkfish, so difficult to photograph, because it hides in the middle of a big bushy red coral.
The Clown Triggerfish has a fantastic coloration, it really looks like a clown.

Striped Triggerfish.

Clown Triggerfish.

Longnose Hawkfish.

And now dear guest I say farewell with a kis from a Harlequin Sweetlips.

=> Emergency Exit...hvis du er faret vild ;-)