~LAND Of OCEAN~
The internationally famous island of Sipadan lies five degrees north of the
equator in the Sulawesi Sea (Celebes Sea). Lying 35km south of Semporna, on
Sabah's mainland, like many tropical islands it is thickly forested and
surrounded by sandy beaches. Sipadan is an oceanic island and was formed by
living corals growing on top of an extinct undersea volcano, which rises 600m
from the seabed.
The geographic position of Sipadan puts it in the centre of the richest marine habitat in the world, the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin. More than 3000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this richest of ecosystems. Sipadan is well known for its unusually large numbers of green and hawksbill turtles which gather there to mate and nest and it is not unusual for a diver to see more then 70 turtles on each dive. Another unique feature to divers visiting Sipadan is the turtle tomb, an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain many skeletal remains of tribes that became disoriented and then drowned.
The residential schooling barracuda and big- eye trevally are one of the highlights on every divers wish-list which often gather in thousands forming spectacular tornado-like formations. With the possibility of seeing pelagics such as mantas, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks, each dive at Sipadan is a highly anticipated event. Its not only the frogfish that amaze divers coming to Sipadan, the macro life is equally mesmerizing. Garden eels, leaf scorpionfish. mantis shrimps, fire graces and various pipefish are guaranteed at various dive sites. The diversity and abundance of marine life found at Sipadan gives it its reputation of being one of the ten best dive locations in the world.
Announcement: Presently, the island is in the care of Wildlife Department, which has stationed several park rangers to oversee the state of nature of the island. To protect the world unique flora & fauna on the island as well as the underwater world the Malaysian Government has decided that from 2005 no more overnight facilities shall be on Sipadan itself. This means that all dive operators on Sipadan have to move; diving Sipadan will be conducted from other destinations, such as Mabul and Kapalai. It is likely that Sipadan will be designated a marine reserve under Sabah Parks, and there are plans for a World Heritage Site listing.
The Layang Layang Island
Layang Layang, the "Swallow Reef," is an atoll in the South China Sea some
300 km north-west of Kota Kinabalu. The island is man-made and was constructed
for the Malaysian Navy and later developed for the only dive resort, the
Layang-Layang Island Resort. The island location offers absolute isolation, and
the only mode of getting there, except by boat, is the regular Malaysia Airlines
flights from Kota Kinabalu. The extreme location of Layang-Layang, the pristine
reefs, excellent visibility, steep walls down to 2000 m and regular sightings of
pelagics have given Layang-Layang the much deserved reputation of being one of
the top ten dive locations in the world.
With resident schools of barracuda and big-eye trevally, and frequently seen green and hawksbill turtles the reef has something to offer for everyone. The corals are plentiful and healthy with sea fans more than three meters across, filtering plankton from passing currents. The 20 m deep lagoon has some great macro creatures to be found, including seahorses, cuttlefish and pipefish but it is the pelagics visiting the outer walls that truly excite divers. Schools of scalloped hammer sharks, grey reef sharks, leopard sharks and the occasional threshers and silvertip sharks can all be seen.
Stingrays are also regular visitors including manta rays, pygmy devil rays, marbled rays and eagle rays. Rarer sightings such as whale sharks, orcas and melon headed whales have all been reported over the last few years. Spinner and bottlenose dolphins frequently follow the dive-boats to each location and divers are sometimes rewarded by snorkelling and diving with these amazing creatures!
With its pristine reef, diverse fish life and visiting pelagics, Layang-Layang has rightly gained world wide recognition.
Pulau Tiga Marine National Park
The Pulau Tiga Marine National Park has soared to world fame as 'Survivor
Island' because of the popular Million Dollar Prize Money TV series 'Survivor'
by the CBS TV network, USA. This is the exact island that the entire first
series was filmed! The fact that this island was chosen was due to its untouched
natural landscape and marine life.
Located 48 km south of Kota Kinabalu and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Tiga Park is reached by driving the 140 km to Kuala Penyu, a small settlement on the tip of the Klias Peninsula. From here it is another 18 km, or about 30 minutes, by boat. Another way of getting there is by chartering a speed boat from Kota Kinabalu and cruise to Pulau Tiga, or fly to Labuan Island and charter a speed boat from Labuan.
The Pulau Tiga Park covers an area of 15,864 ha and was gazetted as a National Park in 1978. As far back as 1933, the main island, together with the two smaller islands of Kalampunian Besar and Kalampunian Damit were designated as Forest Reserve.
Survivor television series:
Richard Hatch. After 39 days of hard island living, the 39-year old corporate trainer from Newport, Rhode Island, emerged as the "Survivor". For his troubles and toils, he takes home a million dollars, not to mention a Pontiac Aztek. Viewers may recall Rich's prediction on Day 1 on the+- island: "I've got the million-dollar check written in my name."
The Park Headquarters is situated in an open grassy clearing just behind the beach on the southern side of Pulau Tiga and consists of office, staff quarters and a resthouse for visiting scientists. A network of trails, marked at 50 meter intervals, leads to various points of interest. The island was initially developed jointly by the Sabah Parks Trustees and the Sabah branch of the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) as a marine research centre, but now there is also a new resort called "Pulau Tiga Resort," run by a private enterprise with chalets, diving and watersports facilities. For day trips, Pulau Tiga has excellent facilities for BBQ and sun bathing with complete shelter and toilet facilities. You will need to pre-arrange your food and beverages with Pulau Tiga Resort as they only service in-house guest.
There are two more islands in the Pulau Tiga Park, approximately 20 minutes by boat to the north of the main island, Pulau Tiga. They are very different. Kalmpunian Besar is a small sand cay built up from unconsolidated coral fragments, and the shape of the island shifts and changes with the prevailing monsoon winds and currents. Kalampunian Damit (also known as "Snake Island") is celebrated as a breeding ground for the amphibious sea snake Laticauda colubrina, which comes to the shores to lay eggs. The snakes can usually be seen coiled in a tangled mass under boulders or among tree roots.
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