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SIPADAN > DIVE > THE DROP-OFF
 

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LOCATION:
This dive site, aptly named Jetty Drop-Off, is accessible by both swimming from the jetty shoreline as well as from a dive boat. Either way, it should take just minutes away to enjoy one of the most prolific dive sites in Sipadan.

DESCRIPTION:

It is often said that Jetty Drop-off is the world's best shore dive, and if my dive experience here was to be of any proof, such claim seems to have a strong basis. The drop off plummets 600 metres down to the deep ocean floor, hence the diving depths should vary anywhere between 15 to 30 metres or so, depending on what divers intend to see.

Our divemaster described of a unique underwater rock formation that resembles an eagle's head just minutes after the dive entry. After a while looking down the deep-blue drop-off while admiring the variety of hard corals and colourful soft corals, the divemaster signaled us to look up for the spectacular view of the rocky protrusion which indeed takes some form of an eagle's head. During my descent, a
blue-spotted pufferfish (Arothron caeruleopunctatus) came up as though to greet the newly arrivals.

The uniqueness of this dive site is further highlighted by an infamous underwater cave at some 20 metres of depth. Fittingly named "Turtle Tomb" or "Turtle Cavern", the extensive cave system goes some hundreds of feet with meandering alleys and such. In fact, it is often said that the old turtles of Sipadan come here to die, although it is most probably that they got lost in the dark and confusing cave system. We only managed some yards into the cave, as it was really dark and one is required to have an advanced certification of some sort to navigate further. Deep inside, skeletal remains of the dead turtles could be found which probably adds some extra touch of eeriness to "Turtle Tomb".

While the reef scenes just over the tumbling abyss were quite spectacular, the most memorable experience at this dive site was an encounter with the famous big-eye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus). The sensation was truly magical, as literally hundreds, if not thousands of big-eye trevally whirled past you in a dramatic fashion. The scene can last for 15-30 minutes, or as it was in my case, much longer until I drained most of my oxygen tank. As there is no real and apparent danger of getting close to them, a diver can easily horde himself or herself within the schooling big-eye trevally to capture the most brilliant photo shots one possibly can. The presence of the large school of big-eye trevally indeed piqued the most interest as I could spot tens of divers all over the place to witness their transcendent movement.

Sipadan is definitely known as the "(green) turtle capital of the world" which goes without saying that spotting a green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is 99.999% guaranteed. One has to be really unfortunate not to see one. That being said, the number of green turtles that can be sighted at Jetty Drop-off is probably the most in any single dive anywhere. In fact, it is not surprising if a diver loses count of the number of green turtles that he or she see during a dive. Tens of them can easily be spotted at merely 5 metres deep, and some even make a point to float over the ocean surface for a few seconds before gliding down in a spectacular fashion. Some can be found hiding between the hard corals, while some other can partially be spotted nestling between the terraced cliff of the underwater abyss.

The drop-off, being one of the most accessible dive sites anywhere, is truly a wonderful spot to see various types of marine life.

MY RATING:

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