Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beautiful Sabah Underwater Photos

As requested. Underwater and the great marine lives photos!

nicole diving at surface

Not just Sipadan. The photos below includes diving photos taken from Mataking and Mabul Islands as well, neighbouring islands of the great Sipadan.

nudi branch
Nudi Branch

Which, btw, those of you who are interested to go diving in Sipadan, book wayyy in advance. Because unless you have contacts, like really good contacts, daily permit to enter the island is VERY VERY limited.

Last I heard each dive centre was only allocated 7 permits. During diving season (between June and August), the permits might be fully booked two to three months in advance, more difficulty for group divers.

diver gerald
Gerald doing a spin off.

Now I have friends who went to Sipadan and came back complaining that there wasn't anything to see and the island was overrated bla bla bla.

Well, serve you right for not going there during the diving season. Instead they chose to go there during the year end period where there's no one and hence easier to obtain permits, etc, and ended up diving in rain all the time. Hence murky water, low visibility.

gerald and frog fish in murky water

And it's called the diving season in July for a reason, because all the other months you just won't see shit! The fishes are all elsewhere you douche.

nicolekiss in water

Anyway, I went there during the peak (July 2009) and the water was clear, abundance of marine lives

marine lives

tiger fish galore

and beautiful gigantic sea turtles!


turtle 2

On this trip, there were a total of five of us. Four advanced divers and one newbie. Three guys two girls.

group of three

Among two of them were my readers (actually just one of them, the other one was his colleague), Raymond and Westley. Raymond emailed me one day, after finding out that I was planning a trip to Sipadan and said he wanted to tag along. And so with my best bud Gerald and my lady friend (whose name shall not be named), we planned the trip together.

Raymond doing a kung fu

The baby of the group did not join us on our first three days of dive trips because she was taking her first open water license. Hehe. You will see her in her wetsuit later in the post.

Let's start off by talking about my bandana.

diving with a bandana

Which Gerald bought for me.

gerald searching through his bag
Him scouring in his bag for my gift.

At first I thought it was weird for a guy to buy something like a bandana for a girl,

me with bandana
how I wore it when he handed me the piece of cloth

two bandanas
he got himself one too

but then I realised that it actually came pretty much in handy.

You know when you go diving, for those who have long hair or fringes, your hair it always gets stuck in the mask when you put them on.

nicolekiss diving

wind in my face
fringe fly here fly there

Well, a Bandana helps secure your fringe up and hence easy for applying mask.

nicole diving

nicolekiss diving 2
An example of a badly secured Bandana.

The other usefulness of it, I found out, was identity.

If everyone in your group rented wetsuit from the dive centre, you all, well, look pretty much the same underwater. Especially when you dive deeper and all the colors except blue remains.

diver in the sea
I still have no idea who that is in this photo

But with a Bandana, for the first time, it was really easy for me to identify which one was Gerald!!

gerald diving

Even deep in the water, I just need to look over one's head and instantly know which one he was.

funky gerald

Or me for them.

split legs nicole

Bandana rocks.

having a headache
you might think that I was pointing to my bandana in this photo, but I was actually signaling that I was having a splitting headache underwater, which btw passed me out.

Now, on to the great marine lives!!

I've been practising my underwater photography skill and I must say, I have improved tremendously since I first started out.

I can control my buoyancy more accurately now (so that I don't float all over the place while taking photos) and hence, more amazing close up photos!

frog fish 2
frog fish

see, I didn't scare the fish off this time!

I've also grown more spontaneous underwater which meant that I was able to capture that million dollar moment with some of the most beautiful creatures underwater.

nice shot of turtle

Now I just need a really good and expensive underwater casing for my SLR, and a strobe.

Some shots of the endangered green turtles.

We saw countless of them. It was amazing.

turtle's back
chasing after one for a good shot

turtle swimming up

turtle going up

flying turtle 2

swimming with green turtle
Gerald, you better thank me for this shot.

Some shots of the Hawksbill turtle.


hawksbill 2

hawksbill 3
"urgh, can't a turtle rest in peace" *swim off*

green turtle 3

On our last day (actually, my last day, I fell sick after that), we spotted a HUGE green turtle.

I mean this boy was really BIG. Easily 1.7m long, that's my height!!! The freaking turtle was the size of ME!!!

small gerald and big green turtle

green turtle 2

green turtle close up

I swam really close to it to get a good shot while Gerald was readying his camera at one side. Then I straddled my legs and pretended that I was riding the turtle and *snap*!

nicolekiss pretending to ride on green turtle

Of course I wasn't really riding the turtle. I didn't even touch the big mama (or daddy).

Gerald decided to tail it.

gerald and green turtle

Community shout out here for a while.

While diving, I spotted a floating plastic bag underwater. Guys and girls, listen to Nicolekiss, if ever one day you spotted a floating plastic bag, please please... I beg you, go pick it up. Because if you don't, some turtles might actually think that it's a jellyfish, go up and consume it, and choke and then die!!

turltle in the distance

Do you want to see these beautiful endangered creatures die?! NO!

So I swam up and held the plastic bag in my hand for the rest of the dive session till we got on the board, and discarded it accordingly when I reached mainland.

picking up trash underwater
Peace out

Another grand things you'll encounter when you dive in Sipadan during the peak diving period was that you'll see seasonal school of fishes that only appear in that time of the year.

schoold of jackfish

Believe me, it will be the grandest thing you'll ever see in this part of the world.

It's nothing like the petty school of fish you see in the photo above. Nay.

The school I'm talking about here was something more like this...

whirl school of barracuda 2

whirl school of barracuda 5

whirl schoold of barracuda 3

This was a school of barracuda spotted in Barracuda point in Sipadan. They usually swim in school and will circle in big whirlpool. I was actually inside the circle when I took these photos.

swimming amongst barracuda

swimming with barracuda

whirl school of barracuda

Breath-taking was one way to describe my feeling.

But awe-struck kinda hit the spot of how I was reacting.

whirl school of barracuda 4

Then there were the schools of jackfish, which came at least in 2 thousands or more of them!

vortex of jackfish
vortex of jackfish

jackass fish in circles

caryn and vortex of jackfish
oh look who has joined us

vortex of jackfish in circles

vortex of jackfish 8

vortex of jackfish 2

Funny story. I actually got lost in this school of jackfish. I just wanted to swim inside and take really nice shot of the fish from inside but by the time I was done snapping, I realised the vortex of fish had dragged me else where and I couldn't find my way around, they were still surrounding me at this point. It was crazy.

So I kept swimming forward, against the school of fish to find my way out and thank god after a while I spotted my diving buddies. Phew~

I actually have video of me being lost. Will share them in my next post. Including the videos of the school of barracudas and jackfish too.

Here are photos of other marine lives.

nice shot of lion fish
lion fish (or scorpion fish for some)

nice shot of lion fish 3

nice shot of lion fish 2

pretty fish 3
longnosed hawkfish

pretty fish 2

Spotted a rather huge Flamboyant Cuttlefish.

gerald and flamboyant cuttlefish

flamboyant cuttlefish 5

flamboyant cuttlefish close up

nicolekiss with flamboyant cuttlefish
Nicole thinking: "yum, calamari."

Spotted a baby one too.

cuttlefish on net

Spotted a copper-band butterfly fish.

angel fish

An angry copper-band butterfly fish.

angry looking angel fish

I don't think it was very happy us disturbing its peace.

angry fish

The all evil looking Murray Eel.

scary looking murray eel
Reminds you of your mother-in-law doesn't it?

The ugly frog fish.

frog fish

Another ugly fish.

ugly fish

A fish that looked like worm of which name I couldn't remember. It's somewhere in my previous post.

worm fish

A shark!


A long snouted fish (what's-his-name?).

long fish

Three different giant sea cucumber.

giant sea cucumber
This sea cucumber is at least 1.4 meter long!

giant sea cucumber 2
This one looks like poo.

giant sea cucumber 3
1.3m long of bad allergy?

Some yellow fish.

yellow fish

Two fish from Fishville.

fish from fishville

They are the fish from fishville, aren't they?

ignore the dead fish. I'm too lazy to play the game now.

What's their name again?

purple firefish

Oh yea.. firefish.

See, facebook games can be educational.

Oh look, another lion fish.

scorpion fish

Come everyone, let's take a photo with it.

group photo with scorpion fish

One day, I swear, we'll eventually gonna annoy all the fish in the sea with our cam-whoring habit.

Saw a very big angel fish? "chang yu" (you know, the one that our parents always serve on dinner table) swimming up close to Raymond.

fish big swimming next to gerald

oh Yummy, lunch.

fish for lunch

Other random photos.

spiral coral



dive master
dive master creating circular air bubble

circle air bubble

circle air bubble 2

me and bubble
looking through your window~

bursting your bubble
o o .. I know this pun: sorry to burst your bubble.

pretty coral

coral on coral
christmas tree coral?

swimming through rusted metal
swimming through

lowering down metal bar
going down. it's like playing maze in Mabul island.

toilet bowl underwater
what was this doing down here?

gerald sitting on a toilet bowl
for Gerald to finish his business of course

gerald going long
Gerald going long~~~

coral 2

nice photo

Welp! It's about time to return to the surface. The post is ending (PHEW).

gerald diving at surface

nicolekiss diving at surface 2

Guys, I shall end this post with this.

seasick bunch
seasick bunch

We were completely wiped out!

PS// the above photos were dives taken within a period of 4 days over at least 9 dives.


  1. Nice Pictures!! Where to see more of them? Flickers?

  2. awesome pics~! what cam did u use 2 capture all these?

  3. fantastic, fantastic, fantastic...

    Wanna ask you nicole, your blog memory to upload photo left how many percent??? What happens if it's full?

  4. I am so jealous!!!!! You are so lucky. Good camera, good visibility, good fishes and good buddies!!!!

  5. Holy shit, these are effing gorgeous and amazing ;____;

  6. awesome pictures love the turtle photos and the underwater life

  7. Nice Pictures! Make me want to go now...

  8. i wanna learn how to dive!!!!

  9. Looking at the pictures made me realize how much I missed Sipadan since my last trip. =(
    Have to go again!!!

  10. awesome picture nic, makes me want to take diving lesson here :-)

  11. OMG!! I love your pictures!! They're awesome!! But weren't you afraid that the barracudas would attack you?

  12. Great pictures!!! What kind of camera do you use for underwater pictures? They are all so clear!

  13. Its not chang yu. Its actually batfish which have poor meat quality!

  14. You know usually nobody's interested to look at photos of animals when bloggers upload them. E.g famous blogger goes to the zoo, take loads of animal photos and everyone just quickly scrolls down?

    Yours are different. I actually took time to observe and admire each photo because they're all so well taken. You're one of the best photographers I've seen:)

    I'm curious though, won't the fishes 'bang' into you?

  15. Dreamtent: Well yes and no, most of them are in my harddisk. lol

    Zachary: just a normal compact digital. Can't afford an SLR casing yet

    cruSader: er... unlimited?

    Charlene: o thank you thank you

    Anon: hehe

    xuanneh: you haven't seen the ugly ones only :p

    M-Knight: TQ. I love them turtles too!

    anon: u should go

    Raiz: why not? haha

    Gypsy: i know right? i wanna go back this year, damn it

    J.H: here? where is here? Sabah? you should!

    M.May: nah, I know they look big (they are), they're pretty cool with humans.

    Celeste: just a compact digital, clear because thanks to clear water and shallow depth :)

    Anon: oh yea.. batfish. opps. thanks. :p

    tam: you mean best photographer with a compact digital? i agree. lol. what crazy fool can be so patient with a compact?

    no, they just swim around you. like how Hanoi and HCMC traffic are.

  16. these are probably your best diving photos yet. many of these are postcard quality, and i'm not just trying to suck up here. also, weren't you scared the lionfish was gonna turn around and sting you? :O

  17. Thank you ;-) you should look at that emo boy one over this blog:

  18. Wow, wow, wow,

    Awesome photos! I so got to go back and take a long term diving trip there.

  19. omg nicole! i am so jealous of you!!

    you have got great buddy, good camera, good time good life... what else??

    good experience...

    i just love the photos!!!!

  20. Wow! The pics were really cool and nice! You just had me at 'Wow' ;-)

  21. OMG this is crazy awesome.. The pictures of Fishes closeup!!
    Wanna go diving too!!!

  22. awesome photos!

    did you use scuba-junkie when you first get your open water license in semporna? i'm thinking of using them but it'd be great if i can get more opinions on it. thx!

  23. I love all your pictures! what camera are you using there? were you using ur 50D? if yes, you must have spent a lot buying underwater gear. i heard it costs about couple of thousands! O.o

  24. super awesome. make me jeles kuasa lapan belas.

    thanks for sharing such a beautiful picture

  25. Wow, lovely pics!

    Swimming among fish might be breathtaking...but I think I will mainly be scared of them. lol But then I don't even know how to swim so I'm definitely not going to dive :P

  26. real nice post.. love all those pictures.. and your adventerous story.. ;)

  27. wow love those pictures..

  28. wow reli nice pictures! hope to get my licence soon~ u used ur ixus for these shots?

  29. very nice photos.. and amazing a compact camera can already do this. awesome! now i cant wait 2 get my license. :)

  30. Nice picture. Made me wanna go learn diving too.

  31. Really great post with awesome photos...! the photo with gerald doing his business underwater really cracked me up XD

  32. Love all your pics.. so colorful.. :)

  33. Envy your guys! I haven't got a diving license yet!

  34. Great Post! Now I regret not taking a diving license

  35. i like!!! (^o^)/

    this place is awesome!!

  36. wow wow, realy nice, i enjoy ur blog and photos!!!


  37. what digital camera did you use? do you recommend a newbie to dive in sipadan or tioman/redang for the first dive?

  38. Definitely one of the more charismatic blogs...we did HCMC as well over in October last year. Same sites same sceneries and the best bit was the train ride to and fro and the 12 km treks through the rolling hills. a friend of ours, we were a group of 3 nearly died-ed of exhaustion. pity we didnt take a shot of his face, you should have seen it. somebody shoot me please it boys trip yet :-)

    Came back not too long after that and read Halong Bay tragedy with the loss of several lives when one of the junks sank trapping several tourists in their bunks.