April 2008 Archives

Central and regional governments in Malaysia recognize the importance attached to conserving their natural resources, not just in light of increasing revenue gained through reef-based tourism but also as a sustainable livelihood for subsistence fishers and the commercial fishing industry. Coral reef fisheries in recent years have been estimated to contribute approximately 25% of total annual marine fish production in Malaysia. In Sabah six marine parks have been established all of which have no take zones, these are:

  • The Pulau Tiga Marine Park, a beautiful island between Labuan to the south and Kota Kinabalu.
  • The Tunuk Abdul Rahman Marine Park, located adjacent to Kota Kinabalu.
  • Turtle Islands Marine Park, a group of islands seaward of Sandakan renowned for their year round turtle nesting.
  • Tun Sakaran Marine Park, encompassing many islands off Semporna.
  • The Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA), including the notorious resort and diving destination, Lankayan.
  • Sipadan Island, the infamous diving destination.

Most of the coral reefs on Sabah's West coast described in Famous Dive Locations are known to locals and tourists, the only known exception being a submerged reef lying approximately 30km directly out from Kota Kinabalu, known to local fishermen it has yet to be dived. Coral Reefs on the North and East coasts of Sabah however are largely unexplored, with the exception of a handful of places described in Famous Dive Locations. On the North coast there exists a multitude of tropical islands, large and small, stretching between Pulau Balambangan and Pulau Jambongan. On most of these islands freshwater is not available and therefore local settlements, or Kampongs, are sparsely distributed.

Sipadan & her surrounding islands:

On the East coast of Sabah, in the Sulu Sulawesi Sea, lies Pulau Sipadan and her surrounding islands, Pulau Kapalai and Pulau Mabul. This group of protected islands is legendary in dive circles and is ranked in the five top diving destinations in the world. The fantastically shaped islands, surrounded by immaculate white sand beaches, clear turquoise blue seas and fringing reefs provide a variety of dive experiences. The perfect reefs harbor incredible fish, invertebrate and coral biodiversity. At Sipadan huge schools of hammerhead sharks, jacks and spiraling barracuda can be seen over the 700 meter drop offs, the topography also offers caverns and coral gardens. Two species of turtle are very common at Sipadan, green and hawksbill turtles and encounters with manta rays, grey reef, white tip and leopard sharks and if you're very lucky, thresher and whale sharks, all add to the excitement. Pulau Mabul and Kapalai, don't offer the jaw dropping topography of Sipadan however the diversity of marco animals is incredible, and the shallow waters make Mabul and Kapalai excellent snorkeling spots too, much of the marcofauna here is yet be classified and new species are constantly being discovered!

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