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Tag / turtle

This is a follow up post to the 2013 Maldives trip, while the previous post detailed the liveaboard trip in its entirety, I want to share the dive log and some underwater photos in this post.

Photos are taken with Olympus E-PL3 & PT-EP05L underwater housing, I use an Inon UWL 100 & dome port for wide angle shots, and the Inon UCL 165 close up lens for the few macro photos.

Lighting is supplemented with a couple Sea & Sea YS-D1 from my buddy Terence, control wasn’t the best since I’m still getting used to the set up. I gotta be more patient in trying out different settings, but alas, when the underwater world is so beautiful, sometimes you just want to enjoy the moment.

the Choo family & Cherish, posing with a turtle at Fish Head
Joshua, Aileen & Cherish, posing with a turtle at Fish Head

We logged 17 dives over 6 days of diving, and got to see basically everything except manta rays at cleaning stations, but the sharks, tuna, whale shark, marble rays, beautiful seascape, and wonderful company more than made up for it.

Here’s hoping we will visit this paradise of a country again in not so distant future.

guitar shark found at 38 meters at "Fish Head"
guitar shark found at 38 meters at “Fish Head”

Day 1
Dive 1:
Check out dive.
28.1m
One diver shot up from 20m with mask and regulator off, luckily proper CESA observed
Saw two black tip around 5-6′
Titan trigger non aggressive
School red tooth trigger fish
A very big morey eel
Parrot fish

Dive 2:
Night dive 9pm+
Site: fesdu lagoon
Manta
Set up lights on boat and dhony to attract mantas.
Went down and visibility was not too great due to sand kick up
Manta came close few times, magical
65 mins
During safety stop Manta feeding under lights. Shot a short video
The same diver cut the dive short, still recovering from first dive’s emergency ascent

school of fish at Lily's Manta Point
school of fish at Lily’s Manta Point

a customary picture of nemo
a customary picture of nemo

played with the cleaner wrasses a little at Broken Rock, day 4
played with the cleaner wrasses a little at Broken Rock, day 4

Day 2
Dive 3:
Site: fish head
Guitar shark at 38.5 meter.
Saw some 6 footer gray sharks
Giant morey eel swimming out of hiding place too
Plenty of fish, coral
Medium current, maybe a tad too deep at guitar shark area, luckily monitored and did not go into deco
Alan and Nicole came up late due to deco
The diver who had problem on the first day had a good dive, that’s great

Dive 4:
Before lunch
Second dive at Lily’s Manta point
Didn’t manage to spot any Manta this time
Close to 20m and we found a spot on Sandy bottom waiting for Manta, did not happen
Ended up playing a bit and taking pics at the nearby reefs

Dive 5:
Afternoon dive
Same site at Lily’s Manta point
No Manta this dive either, nice leisure dive
Puffer fish, coral fish, played with the sand and fishes taking advantage pecking the debris

day 3 - swimming with whale shark
day 3 – swimming with whale shark

Kudimaa wreck, I always love the ambiance of a wreck dive
Kudimaa wreck, I always love the ambiance of a wreck dive

Day 3
Dive 6:
Kuradah Thila
Plenty of reef fish, huge garupa too
Nice seascape, Nemo too
Saw a Manta while on Dhoni

Dive 7:
Second dive
South of ali atoll
Site: manigili
Trying to spot whale shark
We Snorkeled with the baby wheel shark first, was fun at first then it got too crowded
Some other group didn’t play nice and cut through front, blah
Still the whale shark was majestic!
Diving later was non eventful except the whale shark for the first minute.
Too much current swaying us left and right so we went up after about 40m

Dive 8:
Third dive of the day
Kudimaa wreck
Beautiful wreck, we went inside a little bit too
Didn’t put my flash trigger securely so no flash available
Big school of bat fish, very bold and curious

Night time Manta! Two came to the boat and we snorkel with them, took some pics. Very graceful and magical, better than whale shark I think

manta visited us again on the 3rd night, majestic creature
manta visited us again on the 3rd night, majestic creature

a moray eel scheming something against Caely, at Broken Rock
a moray eel scheming something against Caely, at Broken Rock

caught Nicole framing these pair of butterfly fish
caught Nicole framing these pair of butterfly fish

Day 4
Dive 9:
Site: broken rock
Nice leisure dive, Joshua having a bit of problem descending, tried helping but didn’t manage cos I didn’t carry weight
Saw a pair of yellow batfish, nice pic opportunity
Morey swimming outside too

Dive 10:
Site: vashu giri kandu
Deep and with quite a bit of current
Saw napoleon wrasse, sharks, and eagle ray
Hanging on the side wall to fight off current
Almost deco at 3-4 mins for a while
One of the more challenging dive sites

Dive 11:
Night dive
Alimatha jetty
One of the more exciting dives
We had some sardin in a milo tin and lots of nurse sharks came
Got very close to them too
A few knocked me and the camera pretty solid
Giant trivoli were huge, almost 2 feet in length and very bold
Huge marble Rays too
Haze was petrified underwater, didn’t know nurse sharks don’t bite
Awesome dive even tho it was very shallow at about 5-8 meters only

diving with nurse sharks at Alimatha Jetty, thrilling experience
diving with nurse sharks at Alimatha Jetty, thrilling experience

huge marble ray among the sharks
huge marble ray among the sharks

Day 5
Dive 12:
Site: miyaru kandu (means channel)
Black tip, napoleon wrasse and a honeycomb eel.
Others saw a school of black tip at deeper end too
Quite deep, less exciting dive especially after last night

Dive 13:
Site: kandoona
Pretty deep dive, hit deco for about a minute strong current and we just hang on the rocks, looking at quite a few gray reef sharks just chilling at the channel, kinda like f1 car in wind tunnel
A few Napoleon wrasse too
35 meter

Dive 14:
Site: vilivaru giri
Lots of reef fish, a few types of trigger
Trying to take a photo of a pair of pipe fish but an unsuspecting morey bit attacked the strobe
Saw a turtle too
Quite a lot of clown fish too
Beautiful corals, including table coral
Brown ribbon eel
Others saw octopus too

spotted this beautiful jellyfish at "Sunlight" dive site
spotted this beautiful jellyfish at “Sunlight” dive site, day 5

beautiful seascape at "Sunlight"
beautiful seascape at “Sunlight”

plenty of these small critters at Miyaru Kandu, day 4
plenty of these small critters at Miyaru Kandu, day 4

say cheese, Mr. Turtle of Miyaru Kandu dive site
say cheese, Mr. Turtle of Miyaru Kandu dive site

Day 6Dive 15:
Site: sunlight
No Manta
Played with sand again
Saw a tiny little flounder which was very cute
The two coral blocks had some jewel garupa, Nemo etc
Saw a pretty good size jelly fish on the way up too

Dive 16:
Dive site: Lankan reef
Saw a tuna for the first time. A bit far away so can’t get any pics.
It was some 10-20m from a shark that everyone was checking out
No Manta sightings tho
Reef fish aplenty, pipe fish too
Dive 17:
Dive site: Lankan reef
Another try for Manta but yet again no luck
Saw a shark, turtle, yellow pipe fish and other reef fish
A more relaxing end as the last dive of our trip
It was well worth it, we got to see eventing we could hope for. Not seeing Manta at cleaning station is alright.

Haze & yours truly, signing off
Haze & yours truly, signing off 

Following last year’s positive experience at Lang Tengah, we made a returning visit to the same island again. After Similan Islands live aboard and the trip to Pulau Sembilan (had good seafood, not so great diving), this is my third diving trip for the year, and that’s 24 dives logged this year. Can’t say I’m complaining. 😀

arriving at Redang Lang Island Resort's Jetty
arriving at Redang Lang Island Resort’s Jetty

We charted a bus and left KL at around 10pm on Thursday night. After spending a night largely freezing our asses off in the bus and had breakfast at Kampung Cina’s kopitiam, we hopped on the transfer boat, and 45 minutes or so later, we arrived at Paradise.

The fine white sand and crystal clear water always has a way of making the journey worth it.

and here's a slice of paradise here in Malaysia
and here’s a slice of paradise here in Malaysia

After lunch, we started diving. There were 5 dives in two days, and they are:

  • Day 1, first dive: Karang Nibong, 60 mins, 18m max
  • Day 1, second dive: Tanjung Terunjuk, 52 mins, 23m max
  • Day 2, morning dive: Terumbuk Kuning, 46 mins, 26m max
  • Day 2, second dive: Karang Nibong, 63 mins, 21m max
  • Day 2, afternoon dive: Karang Baha, 54 mins, 22m max

finally, a photo of us underwater
finally, a photo of us underwater

We were pretty fortunate on our dives and managed to spot leopard shark on two separate occasions. First at Tanjung Terunjuk on day one and again at Karang Baha on our last dives. However, the sharks were pretty shy, and on both occasions swam away before we could approach close enough for a Kodak moment.

By rough estimates, the sharks were at least 8-9 feet in length, and absolutely stunning.

a shy green turtle hiding beneath a boulder
a shy green turtle hiding beneath a boulder

This was also Haze’s first real diving trip, the two leisure dives at Pulau Sembilan she did (and I participated) had visibilities so poor that there isn’t actually any hint of leisure in them.

On these dives, we were blessed with visibilities in excess of 20 meters on all dives except the two occasions when we veered off to the slightly more challenging areas to spot leopard sharks.

those elusive razorfish
those elusive razorfish

At Redang Lang, like most other resorts, food is included, they are edible and very average. Breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner served at the “canteen” area everyday, and dives are usually scheduled in between meals.

a relative of bad joke eel is found here too
a relative of bad joke eel is found here too

Luckily for Haze and a few others, Redang Lang’s rental gears are all new this year. Often times at budget dive trips the rental gears can be quite… disappointing. This was one of the reasons I bought everything I need sans weight belt and scuba tank.

Lydia making friends with Nemo and family
Lydia making friends with Nemo and family

It was a good couple days of divings. We boarded the bus again on Sunday and left Paradise reluctantly. It was another 10 hours or so before we reached KL (traffic was a bitch, and we made too many stops).

Guess it’s time to plan another trip. 😀

nemo, sea fan, plenty of fish, and this interestingly shaped dead coral.. ermm
nemo, sea fan, plenty of fish, and this interestingly shaped dead coral.. ermm

James helping out divers taking off their fins before boarding

James helping out divers taking off their fins before boarding

KY, Haze, Terence, Celine, James, baby and mom, Lydia & the rest
KY, Haze, Terence, Celine, James, baby and mom, Lydia & the rest

p/s: all photos taken with Olympus E-PL3 with this set of gears.

 Olympus E-PL3

My recent diving trip to Tenggol island marked the 3rd time I attempted underwater photography. This post is more on some of the better photos I took with the limited equipments I currently operate while breathing compressed air – Canon S90 with Ikelite Underwater casing.

Pulau Tenggol, May 2010
Paradise with beach, crystal clear water, and sun, right here in Malaysia

Looking through the photos make me want to have underwater strobes and a couple Inon wet lenses so much. It’s a wish that can be answered by a few dozens RM 100 bills I can’t really afford to part with at this moment.

There’s always a delicate balance on splitting the limited amount of dough between gears and diving itself. Oh well, soon, soon…

Anyway, here are some of the better photos that serves a good summary from the 3 day trip.

Nemo and friends
nemo in anemone

Nemo, the artist formally known as clown fish, is quite abundant at coral reefs around Tenggol.

In one instance, Haze was talking to our dive master Charlie and used the word “nemo” before correcting herself and address it as “clown fish”. Charlie had to tell her that nobody uses clown fish anymore, not even the .. ahem.. older generations. Pixar is really that influential.

blue spotted stingray
blue spotted stingray

Ikan bakar never looked so pretty. I found this blue spotted stingray (the colors are gone when you .. bakar them :S) hidden under some corals, these bottom dwellers usually like to hide under boulders, which makes this quite an opportunistic capture. I like how the blue spots turned out.

haze, KY, dave, and rich
Haze, KY, Dave, and Rich

First pic was when we just arrived, the second on one of our normal boat dives with me and my full set of gears, and the last one just before the night dive on second day.

By the way I think that was the only pair of jeans on the whole island.

crab, during night dive
this crab is probably quite yummy on dinner plate

A lot of crustaceans come out to play and prey at night, Rich spotted this fancy crab amongst the rock and I was able to snap a pretty decent photo with the built in flash. I so wanted to have this on the dinner table, but alas, Tenggol is a marine park.

lobster!
spiny lobster, even more yums!

Also known as rock lobster, this decapod would probably taste even better than the crab mentioned above! This thing was huge, at least 2 feet in length. But then looking through sea water amplifies your vision by around 30%.. emm..

the 5 sisters at Tenggol
the 5 sisters of Tenggol

This is one of the five sisters of Tenggol. They are five Vietnamese ship wrecks laying at the bottom peacefully at over 30 meters depth, there’s another wreck on slightly shallower water in the middle of the lagoon too.

We went to the wrecks every morning for 3 days straight. The slightly murky water, low light condition, and the quietness of being underwater gives this site a pretty ghastly feel. One can only imagine what went through the refugees’ minds from the moment the board the boat with all their belongings to feel the war torn country to the point when they reached Tenggol and had to sink their boat to make sure they weren’t gonna be towed out and left alone drifting in open sea.

A wide angle converter would do me good at this site.

green sea turtle
look ma, a green turtle!

This was the only green turtle spotted over 8 dives. A shy little one about 2 feet in length.

Turtles aren’t very common in this part of the world anymore, this probably has something to do with the fact that they’re still selling turtle eggs at Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu, with the authority turning a blind eye on the grotesque abuse on animal conservation effort in this country. It’s just sad.

giant barracuda
Giant barracuda, smile!

Schools of juvenile barracudas are pretty common at Tenggol, but the big ones less so. This was one of the two giant barracudas we spotted during the last dive. They’re some 3 feet across and can look downright scary, this photo doesn’t do justice to the awesomeness of this fish though.

starlit sky at Pulau Tenggol
look at the stars, look how they shine for you

Other than going underwater and enjoying the beach, the other thing that I absolutely love about being on an island is the stars. They are absolutely brilliant at night, thousands and thousands of stars when the sky is clear.

We were just chilling on the beach, under the star, and sipping some whisky at night. It was awesome, I want to be back there now!

After the awesome party and three dives at Mabul and Kapalai the previous day, we woke up feeling a heightened level of excitement despite having slept only a few hours. It was what we’ve been waiting for, the three dives at Sipadan awaits.


Sipadan, a Paradise without the nosy St. Peter

Acclaimed by the late (and apparently super famous) marine biologist Jacques Cousteau as “an untouched piece of art”, Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia. Formed by living corals on top of an extinct volcanic cone rising 600 meters from the seabed, the island is often regarded as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.


turtles like to come here for party

We took off from Mabul island at about 9 in the morning and arrived at Paradise some 20 minutes later. Gone were the resorts surrounding the island since the local authority decided to shut them down, there are only 120 permits issued per day for diver/snorkelers at Sipadan.

While this may frustrate people who made the long journey without proper planning and ended up not being able to dive here, I think it is a right step in conservation of the island and dive sites. This basically made sure that there won’t be more than a couple dozen boats coming to the island per day, limiting pollution as well as potential damage too the eco system caused by overly touchy divers too.


a huge school of jackfish

Our first dive was at White Tip, 10:10am. It was wall dive with vertical drop of 600 meters into the deep blue. As the name suggests, we did really see some white tip sharks, and there were plenty of turtles. In fact, all three dive sites at Sipadan were full of sea turtles. Sea turtle resting on cora, sea turtle swimming, sea turtle hiding in the cave, it was like a space ships in starwars, they’re everywhere.

We also spotted a pretty good size trigger fish, and fortunately it wasn’t their breeding season just yet and no one was attacked. They can be pretty vicious when protecting their nests. Tales of taking a chunk out of diver’s fins are not uncommon. 18 meters maximum depth and 45 minutes later, we understood the rave about Sipadan.


corals and many tiny colorful fishes

After about an hour’s rest, we headed to the Hanging Garden for our second dive. Maximum depth of 18 meters for another 45 minutes of eye feast. There were unicorn fish, beautiful reef sharks, angel fish, moray eels, tiny blue/red/spotted tropical fish, and of course, more turtles.

After the second dive, we stopped by the island and swallowed had some lunch that was tapao-ed from Uncle Chang’s. A bit of shrimps, vegetable, and some fried chicken wings never tasted so good and yet so irrelevant, we were all too excited anticipating our final dive.


bumhead parrot fish that’s really huge, sharks

The last dive of the trip was naturally, the famous Barracuda Point that is located just a stone’s throw away from the jetty. Right at the get go, we saw a huge school of jackfish swimming in a swirling in a giant ball. The dive master actually used my camera to take a video of me swimming into it, I shall figure out how to use iMovie on this mac and post up the video soon. It was pretty amazing.

The amount of fish at this area is astounding, we saw all the fish described previously except in much higher concentration, and there were plenty of sharks too (usually around 3 feet in length). Most amazing of all was the herd of bum head parrot fish we followed for a while, they were as big as me and most probably heavier. Pretty calm and chilling though, minding their own business and shat a lot at the same time.

It was an awesome experience diving at Barracuda Point, and I will surely return to this site in the future, after all we didn’t manage to see the famous barracuda tower on the dive despite being underwater for another 45 minutes.


Mabul island tour, at nemo island shell fish shop

One of Uncle Chang’s employee, Zul, volunteered and took us for foot tour around the island of Mabul. We took about an hour to complete the some 2km path, and Lynn discovered Mabul’s ipod where you can listen to the ocean from anywhere in the world in stereo.

More on Mabul island on the next post.