After two dives on the first day, we spent Saturday going underwater three times. The first dive in the morning was a deepish dive that bottomed out at close to 30 meters.
The visibility going down was excellent, but once we reached the bottom we literally couldn’t see anything past 3 meters, sometimes you’re lucky, other times you aren’t, and this is an example of the latter.
blue spotted stingray
However, even with the lackluster visibility, we did spot quite a few creatures at this dive site. A beautiful blue spotted stingray were found laying at the bottom, and there were juvenile bamboo sharks hiding in the reefs too. We also spotted a huge cuttle fish who wasn’t too thrill to see us, I did manage to snap a couple pictures of the undersea alien before it jetted off from us.
cuttle fish, not looking terribly happy
this is 1/3 of a bamboo shark hiding within the coral reef
We spent some 20 minutes at the bottom and another 15 minutes or so slowly ascending to the surface. The temperature at the bottom was a chilly 26 C, making it the coldest I’ve been (other than Aquaria KLCC)
underwater thugs wannabe
After brunch, we had another dive, and on this second site, we found what we were looking for – the magnificent leopard shark.
Leopard Shark at Lang Tengah
I’ve seen leopard shark while diving at Aquaria KLCC, but seeing a beautiful specimen in the wild is something else. Ed and I navigated slowly to the side of the resting leopard shark to take a closer position for photography, and just as we were settling down, Terence landed at the back of the shark, thus startled the creature, it took off..
Luckily I was able to snap a couple photos before it got away. Sharks are often more afraid of us than we are of them, and if we are to be able to see these beautiful creatures in the wild, do SAY NO TO SHARKS FIN.
leopard shark taking off
underwater photographer at work
The fifth dive of the trip turned out to be our final dive. Terence and I had initially planned to conduct a night dive at the house reef, but thunderstorm that started at around 6:30pm or so pretty much doomed whatever plan we had.
We took it easy on this dive, averaging only at around 14+ meters, with the maximum depth of less than 23 meters. The seascape was beautiful, and again there were plenty of clownfish to be toyed with.
the ever so photogenic clown fish in anemone
a fish that looks like coral, or coral that looks like a fish?
All the photos taken in this post were with the aid of the INON UWL & DOME unit. The ultra wide angle conversion allows me to get to the subject much closer, hence reducing the wastage of light from the external flash unit (I have a single unit of Sea & Sea YS-01).
For those who are unfamiliar with underwater photography, the deeper we go, the more red we lose (hence everything looks blue), and thus underwater flash comes very handy. However, flash units are expensive, and has limited range, a few feet further and all you see is blue again.
All this means that the closer you can get to the subject, the easier you can lit them up. To make matters trickier, water has an amplification factor of about 30%, hence the importance of wide angle lenses.
this would make a good aquarium backdrop
beautiful sea fan with them ikan bilis
I hope you enjoy the photos, hopefully there are more to come. What I really want now is another flash unit and some external arms get better pictures. We shall see. Expensive hobby, le sigh.
This is the last of 3 part series on my diving trip at Tenggol that happened from 27-29 March, 2010. Click on part 1 and part 2 (with dive site map) for previous entries.
Above is a short video from dives I did at Tenggol, editing it made me miss diving lots, but it’s all good since I’m already planning another trip to Tenggol over the labor day weekends. This time I’m going to have my own set of equipments too, yes, diving is now a serious hobby for me.
Work hard, play hard.
wreck diving at Palau Tenggol, Terengganu
dive #6 – House Wreck, Tenggol
date/time – 28/03/10 2:48 pm
depth – 25.0 meter
duration – 33 mins
visibility – 10-15 meters
temperature – 30c
This was the second time I visited the house wreck that is located within the protected bay where the resorts sit, the last time was on the 30th July, 2004. It was a relatively easy dive albiet the relatively murky condition. Terence took his time to snap pictures during descent and somehow managed to get lost and had to surface alone and missed the fun completely, poor thing.
nudibranch – sea slugs if you can’t be bothered
dive #7 – Pasir Tenggara, Tenggol
date/time – 28/03/10 6:05 pm
depth – 14.9 meter
duration – 53 mins
visibility – 15-20 meters
temperature – 29c
For the 4th dive of the same day, we chose to go shallow for a more relaxing dive at Pasir Tenggara. Saw more nudibranchs, starfish, and managed to take a couple more videos of clown fish too. It started drizzling as we surface, but luckily water wasn’t all too choppy.
star fish, table coral, and them nemo!
dive #8 – the 5 sisters, Tenggol
date/time – 29/03/10 8:22 am
depth – 35.8 meter
duration – 51 mins
visibility – 15-20 meters
temperature – 29c
For the last dive of the trip, we went to the famous 5 sisters dive site. Here lies 5 Vietnamese regufee ship wrecks at over 30 meters underwater. Looking at these relics made me wonder how the refugees must have felt when they arrived at this small island and had to sink their ships just so they can’t be towed out to international water and left for dead.
We stayed at depth for only about 15 minutes before proceeding to shallower water to avoid decompression time. Visited some artificial coral reefs too.
Due to my failure in checking the underwater camera casing’s seal properly, a couple drops of moisture went in, but thank god it wasn’t a full flooding. Gotta be more careful next time.
Pulau Tenggol was where it all got started back in 2004, I got my PADI Open Water & Advance Open Water diving license together with Terence and Saint.
When my colleague Richard (he was at xmas eve party 2009) told me about this diving trip, the memory from 6 years back found it’s way from my secondary storage and told me I had to go back there, and Terence agreed too. This despite having just came back from Sipadan less than 2 months ago.
breakfast at some Malay restaurant at Dungun
Together with Richard, San San, Jonathan, Joe, and Terence, we packed our gears and drove up to Dungun last Friday. Spent a night at some cheap hotel, and headed to the Jetty after the excellent breakfast with nasi minyak, roti canai, and nasi lemak at some Malay restaurant by a junction (there aren’t many junctions at Dungun).
Tenggol Island Resort, precisely where we were back in 2004!
Some 45 minutes on pretty choppy water later, we arrived at Tenggol island, and as fate had it, we checked into precisely where we did some 6 years back.
The island still looked exactly like it did when we first got here. It was still relatively untouched, with virgin jungle embracing the sandy bay that has 4 very small resorts housing not more than a few dozen divers at any one time. It is nice to see that the place doesn’t turn to another over commercialized island.
this is Charlie, our resort operator & dive leader
We got our room keys, unpacked, and immediately suit up for the first dive. Our resort operator and dive leader, Charlie Lee, and I share a similar talent in drawing. While I draw maps to food, he excel in underwater topography, and drew maps of every dive sites before we visit them.
The maps come with depth, underwater geological features, path, and so on. Very impressive!
Ahh, being underwater, I miss it already
Our first dive was at Turtle Point, located at the Southern end of the bay, it is protected from the sometimes vicious current at Tenggol. With a maximum depth of 18 meter, the site is usually chosen for check-out dives.
My log book told me that it is also the place where I had my very first dive, though at that time we only went to the relatively safe depth of 9 meter.
Joe busy working, baby barracudas, Terence, blue coral fish
dive #1: Turtle Point
date/time: 27/3/2010 11:26 am
depth: 17.6 meter
duration: 43 mins
visibility: 10-20 meters
Four out of six of us brought cameras with casing fit for underwater usage, which makes for plenty of photos. You can check out the photos I took at this FB album
giant sea cucumber, tang fish, evil crown of thorns star fish
It was nice to get underwater again, Turtle Point was very stress free. We saw a school of baby barracudas, and unlike their grown up counter parts, they looked so cute when they’re at only 1-2 feet in size.
Sea cucumber, tang fish, and various other coral dwelling fishes were spotted too. There’s also the crown of thorns star fish that actually eats coral.
Phyllidia varicosa (scrambled egg nudi), Suunto D6, moray eel
We went on shore and had a very good lunch of curry chicken, vegetable, and rice. Usually lousy food is expected at dive resorts, but the meals we had with Charlie were all rather good, way beyond expectation.
Shortly after that it was our second dive of the day. We were pumped!
dive #2: Tangjung Gemuk
date/time: 27/3/2010 2:20 pm
depth: 26.9 meter
duration: 44 mins
visibility: 10-15 meters
Nemo and cousins, skinny puffer fish
Tanjung Gemuk is located a bit further away and had a bit of current going on. We took advantage of the current and did a very enjoyable and relaxing drift dive for the most part. Spotted puffer fish, two different types of clown fish, the “scrambled egg” nudi branch (sea slug), and more.
We probably covered 4-500 meters in 44 minutes. It was another excellent dive on just the first day.
There are 6 more dives on this trip, and I shall continue on the coming posts. For now, time to sleep!
After a night’s stay at Semporna at the lion’s lower jaw of Sabah, we packed up our gears and took the boat to Mabul island. The six of us jumped onto the speed boat operated by Uncle Chang’s Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge.
We were all stoked as it was the first half of our 2 day, 6 dive expedition.
all smiles except for Chan, who is susceptible with sea sickness, noob
A lot of people associates diving at Mabul/Sipadan to be an expensive affair, but with Uncle Chang’s, accommodation is at an affordable RM 60 per night including all meals, with 3 dives at Mabul & Kapalai priced at RM 260, and a further RM 560 for 3 dives at Sipadan (longer boat ride and 1-day dive permit). For those who doesn’t dive, there’s a RM 100 boat transfer fee that includes unlimited snorkeling at Mabul.
We had a bit of an engine problem half way to Mabul, so the usual 45 minute ride took over an hour, no one really complained though. We were too excited for what’s ahead of us.
giant sea turtle
Mabul and Kapalai are arguably the best spots for muck diving, which basically consist of slightly water with higher concentration of sediment, a condition perfect for many exotic sea creatures to call home, albiet with slightly lower visibility.
Our first dive site was at Eel Garden where we spent 43 minutes at 17 meter underwater. There were plenty of giant sea turtle, stone fish, lion fish, and of course, the famous Nemo too.
pipe fish, crocodile fish, blue nudibranch
After stopping at the dive lodge for slightly over an hour, we proceed to our second dive site at Kapalai island and spent a further 42 minutes at a maximum depth of 18 meters.
The dive site at Kapalai consist of mainly sandy bottom with plenty of man made corals. Ship wrecks and other structures make perfect home for plenty of fishes. There were giant grouper, trigger fish, cuttle fish that flashes colors, blue spotted stingray hiding under the wreck, and even a sea dragon too.
clown fish with anemone, blue spotted ray, cuttle fish, hermit crab
We probably didn’t have enough surface interval between the two dives as the boat transfer from Semporna to Mabul took a bit too long. As a result, Chan somehow ran out of air (while I still had some 70 bar left) and Gan managed to throw up after surfacing. I think we almost went off the dive chart for diving again too soon, oh well..
We then went back to the dive lodge and had our well deserved lunch. It wasn’t great food, but perfectly edible with meat, vegetable, rice, and fruits.
fluet fish, angry eel, upside down pencil fish, moray eel
After lunch and a bit of rest to clear the residue nitrogen in our body, we headed to our final dive site of the day, Paradise II at Mabul. There we spent 45 minutes at a shallower 12 meter maximum depth, I managed to finish with more than half a tank of air left.
Paradise II had plenty of turtles, moray eel, sting ray, and we even spotted a hermit crab. It was already 4pm by the time we were done.
Some of the best photos I took on this day came from this dive as shallower water = better colors.
the most beautiful sunset this side of malaysia
We spent the rest of the day completing our dive logs and a bit of tanning. As Uncle Chang’s is located at the west side of Mabul island, by around 6pm when the sun starts to set, the whole resort bask in amazingly beautiful golden rays of light.
They claimed this place to have the most beautiful sunset, and they were right. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
rocking it on at Uncle Chang’s Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge
After dinner, the live band at the lodge came out and started rocking the crowd. There were 4-5 singers, some of them orphans under Uncle Chang’s wing (part of profits go to orphanage), and the man himself (long hair, white t-shirt) too sang “we are the world”. The singers were actually rather entertaining, with the girl possessing an exceptional though unpolished voice. She’d have made Simon Cowell proud.
After a while, bottles of free rums were given to each table, and the dive masters started pouring cheap red wine to us too. That got the crowd really going, in no time we were dancing on the floor and singing together with the rockers. It was absolutely awesomesauce.
The night more than made up for the canceled Killers concert.
A couple of us spent the night sleeping on uncomfortable wooden deck chair under thousands of stars at night, with sea breeze blowing on our face, and max brenner the cat on my stomach acting as an extra organic heater. It was splendid.