Dive 220: Punta Sur, Cozumel (Mexico)

Dive time: 00:54:00
Max depth: 33.5 metres
Temperature: 28 C
Visibility: 25 metres
Buddy: Sandy

What a way to bring in the 30s! Punta Sur is supposed to be one of the best dive spots in Cozumel and we had a fun dive going through some nice swim throughs, including one called The Cathedral since it had a high, pointed opening.

Lots of rocky outcrops with so much growth, soft sponges, hard and soft corals, loads of huge emperor angelfish and grey angelfish, small groupers, hunting barracuda, parrotfish, a turtle, and right at the end on the ascent, we saw a spotted eagle ray on the bottom.

We had a group that was pretty good on air so ended up racking up 8 minutes of deco. Great dive!

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Dive 192: East Rock, Pulau Si Amil (Malaysia)

Dive time:  00:45:00
Max depth:  27.1 metres
Temperature:  29 C
Visibility:  10 metres
Buddy:  Jose
Surface interval:  14:08:00

Back in Si Amil today and another great dive with lots of critters about.  Our DM, Alvin, was searching for pygmy sea horses on the gorgonian fans but unfortunately we didn’t find any on this dive.  However, we did see a leaf fish, cute little shrimp, nudibranchs, a couple of lion fish, including a juvenile that was about 5cm long (cute!), and a variety of eels including a massive moray eel, spotted garden eels poking their heads out of the sand, a blue ribbon eel, and an even smaller juvenile moray that was probably only around 20cm long.

Just as we were up at the top of the reef to do our safety stop, Jose saw a small turtle just hanging out.  It was just happily chilling out at around 10m and seemed oblivious to Jose’s paparazzi flashes.  Alvin mentioned after the dive that it was quite rare to see turtles around Si Amil so we were very lucky indeed to have a turtle sighting!

The diving here on Si Amil reminds me a bit of Sydney diving, with rocky outcrops with decent growth on them, but the amount of life here is just spectacular.  Truly a macro photographer’s paradise!

Dive 185: Hanging Gardens, Pulau Sipadan (Malaysia)

Dive time:  00:49:00
Max depth:  21.3 metres
Temperature:  29 C
Visibility:  15 metres
Buddy:  Ralston
Surface interval:  01:14:00

Filling in as a last minute replacement for the Sipadan trip backfired on me for this dive as there was no second DIN tank for my second dive.  However, one of the DMs was kind enough to lend me his BCD and regs for the dive.

As soon as we dropped into the water, we spotted turtles everywhere – beside us after having come up for air, beneath us swimming along the reef, and along the wall with heads hidden in holes. At one stage of the dive, we saw three turtles resting in one small alcove section of the wall!  The highlight though, was a large turtle perched on a rock, facing out into the blue, and using the rock as a scratching post!  It wasn’t fazed at all by the paparazzi flashes, or by me coming face to face and eyeballing it less than a metre away.  It just kept scratching away!

This site seemed to be much prettier than I remember it from the first day here, with the wall being covered in lacy fans and corals – just spectacularly colourful.

Along with some patrolling barracuda, I spotted a green moray eel that was out swimming along the reef, hunting for food.  Not your usual encounter with an eel during the day!

Dive 182: Midreef, Pulau Sipadan (Malaysia)

Dive time:  00:49:00
Max depth:  17.7 metres
Temperature:  29 C
Visibility:  15 metres
Buddy:  Dhon
Surface interval:  01:19:00

I was excited to be heading back to Midreef after a stunning dive yesterday and today’s dive was no disappointment despite the poorer visibility.

This site is just stunning with all its beautiful hard and soft corals, and huge gorgonian fans – it’s like swimming around a rich person’s exotic sea garden!

Along with the usual reef fish that we’ve been seeing here at Sipadan (and the first giant clam of the trip!), this dive was just completely memorable for the “oh WOW”-moments.  Only 4 minutes into the dive at around 5 metres, we saw a school of around 15 bumpheaded parrot fish that cruised by us with their big ugly teeth bared – up until now we’d only seen the lone one cruising by so this was just so cool.

We descended deeper and swam along the wall, and at around 14m I rolled over to look back up to the top of the wall and the surface and just saw an ENORMOUS school of barracuda circling right above us up at around 5m!  Dhon had just turned around to point out yet another turtle right ahead when I pointed up to the barracuda.  He was clearly impressed as he banged his tank and got everyone to swim back up towards the top of the wall.  The school of barracuda probably numbered around 400 fish (although my poor estimating skills mean that I’m probably out by quite a few hundred fish!), and they were circling so tightly that they pretty much blocked out the sun!  Amazing!

Then back at around 9m or so, I was cruising by checking out the wall when I noticed a girl in the group gesturing right past me to her buddy.  I turned around and there was a turtle cruising right next to me, only around 2m away!

Stunning dive.  This site has to be my favourite at Sipadan so far – just 2 out of 2 awesome dives here.