Sunday, 1 June 2014

Scuba Semporna

For the last leg of Charly’s hols, we’d arranged to do some diving at Semporna, some of the best diving in the world can be found around these islands. Discovered by Jacque Cousteau in 1989, the area is rich in large pelagics, rays, schools of tuna and barracuda and crystal clear waters.

We booked with a dive operator called Scuba Junkie and headed to their resort on the island of Mabul. A big but very efficient outfit it felt very different to our experience in the Perhentian Islands. Strict schedules, big boats and you generally dived with different instructors / dive masters every day. But everyone was so friendly you immediately felt like part of the family.

We had three amazing days of diving, seeing dozens of species we’d never seen before including stone fish, frog fish, flying gurnard, coconut octopus and bumphead parrotfish. The variety and numbers of species was the greatest we’d experienced during diving and snorkelling and 9 dives was not enough to really see the whole spectrum of what is there.

We retuned to the mainland and spent the last evening with Charly at the Sempona Lepa Lepa festival. The calm streets we had left three days before were now teeming with thousands of people, stalls selling everything under the sun, music and the smoke from the many food stands. Ornately carved boats filled the port and banners and flags fluttered everywhere. The finishing firework display was good enough to rival the London Olympics and were so low overhead they caused the windows to rattle and set off car alarms.

The next morning we bade Charly farewell and thought what to do next!

Sea Adventure is a dive resort on an old oil rig opposite the Scuba Junkie resort on Mabul, there is great diving all around this area and even under the rig itself

A huge Harlequin Sweetlips hangs out under the oil rig

This Map Puffer tries to hide in some of the artificial reefs near the rig

Dozens of Batfish or Spadefish school around the rig

Emperor Angel fish are a common sight around Mabul

The diving dream team!

Lion fish hiding around almost every corner - be careful they can give you a nasty sting and have no fear!

Artificial reefs are constructed to encourage fish which team around the wooden structures seeking shelter and food

Anything can be recycled to provide shelter for fish and encourage coral growth - even this old toilet - "Charly, you should have gone before we left!"

Porcupine fish with the biggest sad puppy eyes!

 Rabbit fish graze on the algae which builds up on the coral and other structures keeping the reef clear of too much green growth

Giant Green Turtles are a common spot, we found this boy having a snooze under a rock

Charly's pic of the day a Banded Moray Eel

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