The name "Tokong Timur", which literally means "eastern seamount", is an utter misnomer as the dive site is actually located to south of Pulau Tenggol. Access to the dive site is about 15 minutes with a fast twin-engine dive boat. Tokong Timur is actually a huge boulder outcrop which is a favourite hanging ground for migratory birds and seagulls.
The dive began from the middle of the south side to the west before an almost 90-degree turn to the east. The average diving depth was about 18-20 metres with somewhat above-average visibility of 10-15 metres. Average bottom time was about 45 minutes.
The dive descended on to a section filled with lobe finger corals (Porites sp.) and branching soft corals (Litophyton sp.). The latter were rather pervasive throughout the dive site and such dominant attribute was probably unique to Tokong Timur and perhaps to Pulau Tenggol itself. As I was enjoying the unique sight of the Litophyton sp. soft corals, a circular batfish (Platax orbicularis) suddenly stole into the limelight with its photogenic movement that seemed to await for incessant underwater camera snapshot. Circular batfish can be considered uncommon in most dive sites from my experience, but when they do come about, they will not shy away from the wandering eyes of the divers.
Further during the dive, I noted of occasional spots that were filled other types of soft and hard corals, such as brown staghorn corals (Acropora sp.) filled with black chromis, green crinoids (Comanthina sp.), knobby finger corals (Sinularia sp.), lobe finger corals (Porites sp.), green staghorn corals with black damselfish (Pomacentrus brachialis), lobe corals with robust star feathers (Himerometra robustipinna), branching gorgonians (Melithaea sp.), leathery sea anemones with Clark's anemonefish (Amphiprion clarki), magnificent sea anemones (Heteractis magnifica) with the ubiquitous false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris), whip gorgonians (Junceella sp.), green fire corals (Millepora sp.), leathery mushroom soft corals (Sarcophyton sp.), button polyps (Protopalythoa sp.), branching plate corals (Pectinia alcicornis), branching gorgonian sea fans (Melithaea sp.), etc.
Nearing the 90-degree turn was a massive coral head filled with hundreds of yellow-tailed snapper (Lutjanus sp.). I spared no time getting as close as possible and took some clear shots of them. Their synchronised movement over the coral head created a lively underwater scene for my camera.
Enough about corals and small fishes. To me, the highlights of this dive site were the bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). If memory serves me right, I encountered the large bumphead parrotfish on three different occasions during the dive. Hopefully they were not the same one. The first sighting of hawksbill turtle just a few minutes into the dive was quite uneventful as it was gracefully swimming away as the disturbance from our dive group was a given excuse for this often-shy creature. My luck was better towards the end of the dive as I spotted another hawksbill turtle which seemed to be more receptive to my camera lenses. Another bumphead parrotfish was spotted right after but I only managed a rather blurry image of this large creature.
As my air tank (in)conveniently displayed 5 bars of oxygen left, I had to call off the chase of more large creatures and returned to the surface instead. Overall, I felt that Tokong Timur was an interesting and lively dive site. With a healthy dose of soft and hard corals, along with the sightings of the big ones such as bumphead parrotfish and hawksbill turtles, I give Tokong Timur my 5-star dive rating.