Monday, 18 August 2014

Whale Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Silvertip Sharks... and much more!

The past month has been Shark-Tastic here at the Scuba Junkie. We’ve had some incredible sightings of an array of shark and ray species. These sightings prove just how diverse the marine life in this area can be. In just one week, we had 6 different species of shark seen in the waters around Sipadan and Mabul, whilst Whale Sharks, Devil Rays and Eagle Rays have been seen around the Tun Sakuran Marine park – which we dive out of Semporna.
Whale sharks seen from below....
(Photo taken on Pulau Mabul)
Possibly the most exciting sightings we had last month were of the majestic Whale Shark – the biggest fish in the ocean. In the space of one month we had 5 sightings of Whale Sharks, all around the Sipadan, Sipadan Barrier Reef, Mabul and Tun Sakuran Marine Park area! Whale sharks are not residential to this area, we see them sporadically throughout the year as they pass through on their mystical journey. Never before have we seen so many in such a short amount of time. What’s more exciting is that the sightings were not just a fleeting glance. At Sipadan the whale shark cruised passed the divers and was visible for several minutes.  Around Mabul our divers spent over 40minutes with a whale shark, having it swim around above them. It was not just divers that had such an incredible experience. At Sibuan, one of the stunning islands that make up the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, it was the snorkelers who were lucky enough to see this incredible shark. It’s possible for everyone to see this stunning and elusive creature.
And Whale Sharks seen from above!
(Photo taken in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park)

 Other species of shark we have seen include the shy Hammerhead shark. Spotted at Sipadan, this incredibly endangered species of shark became intrigued of our divers. The behaviour of these sharks is interesting, the sightings always a magical experience. Hammerheads tend to be a deep living schooling shark. Although they are incredibly shy, they also seem to be very curious. Whilst diving at Sipadan, it is possible for divers to look behind them and see a Hammerhead shark checking them out. Once the Hammerhead establishes you are just a boring diver, they swim back down to their school – reporting to the school that you are nothing of interest. This month we had divers who were lucky enough to encounter the entire school, according to the dive group there were too many to count!

Leopard Shark!
(Photo taken at Sipadan Island)

Leopard sharks have also been spotted in recent weeks. In just one day there were three sightings! This beautiful shark is one of the few species of shark that can actually stop swimming and can be seen resting on corals or rocky areas. When resting these sharks will allow you to get pretty close, as you can see from the photos! Seeing them swim is also a treat, as the Leopard shark is one of the most graceful sharks in the ocean. Their tail is almost the same length as its body, and the stunning shapes and colours of this shark means it is beautiful to watch swim.
Black Tip Reef sharks and Silver tip sharks have also been seen in the last few weeks around Sipadan island. These sightings are important, as it demonstrates just how crucial it is that Sipadan remains protected. Divers have also seen White Tip Reef sharks off the back of Kapalai Island! It is clear that not just Sipadan that needs protecting, it is this whole area. The Semporna Shark Sanctuary is a proposal that Scuba Junkie hugely supports. The projects seeks to have this entire area protected. Not only does it aim to protect the incredible diversity of marine species that we see in this area, but also to protect the local community. A decline in these species will have a detrimental effect to the tourism in Sabah, which is turn will affect the security of many people’s jobs. For more information please visit the Semporna Shark Sanctuary Facebook page

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