Jun

28

This is not a dive related post, but you cant go to Borneo without going on Safari and seeing the Orungatuns.

Borneo is sadly afflicted with the curse of Palm Oil Plantations and the scope of the plantations is truly staggering.

Once refuge is the river side of the Kinabatangan River, where the animals are basically forced to live due to lack of habitat. A few cruises down the river gave us sightings of Elelphants, Crocodiles, Leaf Monkeys, Probiscus Monkeys and more Macaques than you can poke a telephoto lens at. The highlight was a night trek through the jungle where we spotted a Western Tasier…the coolest little creature.

Here’s some pics:

Jun

27

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 70minutes

Max Depth: 18m

Details: After lunch on the beautiful tropical beach, we did our last dive straight out on the sloping sand bank forming the edge of the island. This was true muck diving in sand barrens…but it was hardly barrens. Lots of good critters hidden in the sand, and again, with an empty tank we stumbled onto two frogfish in the shallows…one being a hairy frogfish..another critter high on the wishlist, and the perfect sighting to finish off some amazing diving off the Borneo coast.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

27

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: I’d never heard of Si Amil before coming to Borneo. It doesn’t seem to have a reputation in diving circles, however after seeing the amount of muck critters on this dive, i think it deserves to be up there with some of the best muck diving in the world. I didn’t have a moment spare to relax on this dive, i was hopping from one critter to the next and the sightings got better and better. From the rare daylight sighting of a Twin Spotted lionfish, to frogfish, waspfish, eels, nudis, flatworms and to finish off with a Flambouyant Cuttlefish in the shallows. A creature that’s been on my wishlist (and i saw it with like 5 bar left).

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

27

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 34m

Details: Si Amil is an island that apparently few dive ops visit. Scuba Junkie charges a little extra to get here, but it was worth the trip…a really good muck island, but this dive was a bit different. The main purpose of diving this site was in a hope to see some of the rare Bat Rays. We got lucky and saw a group of about 10, but they were at about 50m so not a good photography opportunity. A seasnake was sitting in around 30m which was a bit of a suprise. It was straight to the surface when he saw me approaching.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

26

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: In the side of the island is a large cave. Kinda cool, Barracuda Point stole the limelight on the previous dive.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

26

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 30m

Details: Wow this was an amazing dive. On the way out to the point, a snorkeller let the divemaster know that a school of Bumphead Parrotfish were in the shallows munching on coral. So we quickly geared up and jumped in with them. A large school of big bumpies cruised around in about 2 metres of water. Incredible. The rest of the group wasn’t as interested as me though, so i had to rush a few photos in, and quickly get back with the group. Of course on the way to the rest of the group was the large school of Jacks…another great subject. A few snaps and it was time to descend. In about 15m i got reasonably close to a White-tipped reef shark being cleaned by a wrasse, and higher up on the reef a good turtle encounter. Despite the sites name we saw no barracuda, but there was so much else to photograph. This was a really great dive. After we finished the dive it was lunch time, and a good opportunity to sneak in some under over shots.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

26

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 32m

Details: After being put on a waiting list for a month by ScubaJunkie to get Sipidan Permits, we were still without the permits with only days left. So we decided to check out other resorts on the island. We went to Uncle Changs and were lucky enough to grab a couple of spots on a boat they had going to Sipidan. Not as well-oiled as Scuba Junkie, but it didn’t matter. We got to dive Sipidan! And it was great! A pristine tropical jewel in a big blue ocean. The first dive was at South Point where we saw Grey Reef Shark, White-tipped Reef Sharks and Turtles. There were reports of Hammerheads earlier in the day, but we had no luck.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

25

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: Paradise 1 is right near the Scuba Junkie Jetty so it was a 30 second boat trip, but it had plenty of great muck creatures. The site was very busy with probably 20 divers on it. We were ahead of most the divers and my guide found a frogfish which he pointed out to me excitedly. Although there are lots of frogfish around Mabul, this was apparently one of the more tricky species to find. I got a few shots off and then the ‘mob’ decended on the frogfish and people took it in turns ‘trying’ to make out an animal out of the nondescript mass. I waited patiently and got back for another couple of shots. It was in a tough position to light properly, but i managed a couple of shots that you can recognise the face if you look hard enough. The rest of the dive was spent with nudibranchs and turtles.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

25

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: The weather was blowing up and most of the dive sites over this side of Mabul were getting a bit dirty. So we ended up diving Coral Hills – more of a wide angle site with some nice corals stands. Apparently this doesn’t get dived all that often, probably because it doesn’t have the muck critters. It was nice, but i choose the wrong lens for this site.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

25

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: One of the islands near Mabul is Kapalai. This was another good macro/muck site with scorpionfish, waspfish, frogfish, mantis shrimp and anemone fish. A few nudibranchs around too, including one freaking out a scorpionfish.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

24

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: One of the dive sites just off the island of Mabul is Awas Reef. A good critter site. Plus turtles.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

24

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 20m

Details: At Mabul Island, about 1km offshore, is a large Oil Rig which has now been converted into a dive resort. The high currents around the oil rig pylons and some artificial reef below the structure attract some great marine life. I put the macro lens on for this dive, and spent most of the dive looking for frogfish, but it wasn’t too be. Crocodile fish, morays, and a great site for nudi’s…i tried out diffuser/snoot for some shots on this dive.

Camera Details: Canon 60mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos:

Jun

24

Conditions:

Visibilty: 15m

Water Temp: ??c

Bottom Time: 50minutes

Max Depth: 18m

Details: Sipadan gets rave reviews in diving circles, so when looking for a nice holiday, Borneo came up at the top of the list with amazing diving and topside wildlife. So after flying into Borneo’s capital – Kota Kinabulu – it was back on a plane and off to Tawau on the east coast of Borneo. From there, an hours drive through endless Palm Oil plantations and we arrive in the seaside port of Semporna. Now if you google Semporna you’ll get mixed reviews, together with news reports of kidnappings and shootings. This was unnerving to begin with, but as the entry point to Mabul and Sipadan, it had to be done, and with the dive shop right across from our accommodation, it gave us a small sense of security. So after a night stay in Semporna it was off to Mabul where we stayed for 5 nights. We stayed at Scuba Junkie in a private room and it really did exceed our expectations. A luxurious room, with a great social vibe in the communal eating area, bar upstairs and pretty good food..albiet a little western. So after acclimatizing it was straight into diving with the first dive just off the beach itself (but from a boat – all dives around mabul are easily accessible from shore but understandably its boat diving only.)

I quickly realised that Mabul is all about the muck and putting a wide-angled lens on wasn’t the best move. Artificial reef was OK, but would have been better had i got into the macro zone. The locals have created a number of structures to encourage marine life to establish in the area..it works to a degree, but muck critters are the stars and they seem to love more subtle structure in the sand.

Camera Details: Tokina 10-17mm 2 X YS-D1 Strobes

Photos: