Medical supplies SS Coolidge Vanuatu credit Heather Sutton

Remnants of the Second World War can be found scattered throughout the Pacific, from the jungles and lagoons of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. One of the most famous (and largest) wrecks however, is found somewhere in between, in Vanuatu: the SS President Coolidge. Read More

Koh Ha Jacks and soft coral_2_14 1200

Koh Ha is a tiny group of islands, not far from Koh Lanta on Thailand’s south west coast. The tall rocky limestone karst islands are very picturesque, like many of the island in this part of the world, similar to Koh Phi Phi and the so-called James Bond island in Phang Nga. But the real beauty of these islands are found underwater. Read More

A “mild” barotrauma leaves a diver with potentially permanent hearing loss. By John Lippmann, DAN AP Founder, Chairman, Director of Research

Diver’s Background. “James” (not his real name) is a 62 year-old Australian male. He is an experienced diver, logging more than 1500 dives over 33 years, mainly in the cooler waters of southern Australia. However, he has also done at least one overseas diving trip each year, mainly to tropical locations. Read More

Decompression Recovery

Decompression Recovery

DAN was contacted by a diver who had received eight hyperbaric treatments for decompression sickness six weeks ago. He was in good physical shape and an hour after diving he experienced numbness and tingling in his left arm, hand, leg and foot and felt very weak and fatigued. At the end of his treatments all his symptoms had alleviated and four days later he flew home without issue. However, he reported that in the last two weeks he had noticed a return of some of the tingling in his left arm and foot that comes and goes but doesn’t completely go away. He was wondering if this was a normal side effect of decompression illness and whether he should seek further recompression. Read More

As you might expect the waters of Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida are crystal clear and I don’t mean like glass, I mean like crystal, every colourful fish positively sparkling in Technicolor! Read More

DAN AP Incident Insights

DAN AP presents our monthly precis of serious incident calls to DAN AP – and most importantly – what we can learn from them. Sadly, DAN AP was also advised of two fatalities. Read More

Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) is an Australian Territory located in the Indian Ocean approximately mid-way between Australia and Sri Lanka. It consists of two atolls and 27 coral islands, and defines that mental image of absolute paradise – a faraway, deserted island of warm, golden beaches, fringed with coconut trees and a turquoise, tranquil lagoon. It’s very relaxing diving the Cocos Keeling Islands. Read More

Safety is in the Air – DAN AP Air Quality Campaign Launch

After the relatively recent death of a scuba diver, it was found that the level of Carbon Monoxide (CO) in his tank was 450 times above the accepted limit. He had filled his tank from a compressor which had not been properly maintained or regularly tested. As a result, the air being supplied was found to be very high in Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels. Read More

Getting “Dive Season” Fit

For Blog Dive Season Fit

Fitness is not only a product of a healthy lifestyle, such as limiting fats and carbohydrates in our daily diets, but also a function of how we address health issues. Lack of fitness poses two risks in scuba diving: the first risk is what we assume ourselves; the second involves the degree of risk to our buddies and potential rescuers. Read More

How Sipadan was saved

Scenic Reef with anthias at Barracuda Point diving Sipadan Malaysia Diveplanit

What makes a world class dive site like Sipadan?

Of course it’s Location! Location! Location! – but nowadays protection is a big factor too.

Sipadan is an oceanic island located off Malaysia’s Sabah’s continental shelf in the Celebes Sea, the top of an extinct volcano rising 600m from the seafloor, fringed with a natural hard coral reef. The reef provides the lower links of a food chain which runs up through reef fish of all sizes to large pelagics that come cruising by from deeper waters in this ancient ocean basin. It also lies almost at the centre of the Coral Triangle known for its massive marine biodiversity.

Just a few hundred metres across, it is also an ancient turtle nesting ground supporting between two and three hundred nesting turtles at any given time. Diving Sipadan you will almost certainly encounter turtles resting, grazing and swimming, as well as a host of golden batfish, a tornado of barracuda, a valley of White Tipped Reef Sharks, and a herd of bump head parrotfish, very much akin to a herd of bison, which seem to be forever roaming round and round the island.

Bumphead parrotfish coming thru at Turtle Patch diving Sipadan Malaysia by Diveplanit

Add to this the coral reefs and a plethora of larger reef fish like unicorns, surgeons and six bar angels and you’ll know why even four dives a day is simply not enough!

So its location does make it one of those very special dive destinations, but what keeps Sipadan special is the Protection! Protection! Protection! it is now afforded by the Malaysian Government.

Dive tourism almost ruined Sipadan. It used to have a dive resort as well as hordes of divers from surrounding resorts visiting it daily. But it all got too much and in 2004 a very tough decision was made to close the resort and to limit the number of divers to just 120 per day. With the current permit system, each local dive operator gets enough permits to fill just a small boat each day, and the places are allocated to dive guests on the basis of their stay’s duration. For example you might stay five days at a resort and get two days diving in Sipadan.

So what do divers do on the other days? Even without Sipadan, the east coast of Sabah is a great place to dive.

The two islands closest to Sipadan (just 30 minutes by boat), Mabul and Kapalai, sport a number of resorts and also many natural and artificial reefs. The artificial reefs are well worth a visit in themselves: their absurd anthropomorphic designs would be more suited for orangutans – Sabah’s other great drawcard – than fish, but they do attract all manner of marine life.

Great playpen for an orang utan at Kapalai House Reef diving Mabul Sabah Malaysia by Diveplanit

Mabul’s natural reefs all give away their predominant inhabitants in their names: Froggy’s, Ribbon Valley (ribbon eels!), Stingray City (- you guessed it!), Eel Garden (another giveaway) and finally Lobster Wall (actually no! No lobsters but lots of morays!)

Snowflake eel speaks at Lobster Wall diving with Scuba Junkies Mabul by Diveplanit

You don’t need to stay on Sipadan’s doorstep – Kapalai or Mabul or a re-purposed oil rig – to dive there, other options to ensure a couple of days diving at Sipadan are the mainland port of Semporna, and some of the luxury resorts in the islands just north of it. Obviously the commute to Sipadan is longer, but the accommodation options are much wider in Semporna, especially at the budget end.

So yes, Sipadan is a very special place that will give you a very special dive experience and hopefully one that will stay that way for a long time. The whole area deserves a place high up on everyone’s bucket list, and remember to book well in advance to lock in your dive days on Sipadan, and also to secure your DAN AP insurance.

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