It has been a beautiful Christmas here at the Mabul Beach Resort. Although Christmas Eve was a little rainy, the sun has been shining the rest of the time. Not only that but we have had some amazing sightings underwater! We have also been getting into the festive spirit of giving and had a pub quiz raising money and awareness for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA)
It seems that in the past few weeks sightings of Scalloped Hammerheads are on the increase. Not only have we been seeing them more frequently, but we have also been having multiple sightings in one day! Although the school has not made themselves known in the shallower water at Sipadan, several have been spotted swimming along together. With Hammerheads being one of the most endangered species of shark there are few areas in the world where they are known to be seen regularly. Sadly, populations have declined by nearly 90% in recent years, so our divers have been extremely lucky to be seeing so many! These stunning sharks can grow up to 430cm and research has shown that they can swim as deep as 275m! Thankfully we don’t have to go that deep to see them, and even our Open Water Divers who go no deeper that 18m have had incredible encounters.
It’s not just sharks taking the limelight this Christmas; we have also seen some beautiful Rays. Devil Rays sightings have been on the increase at Sipadan, but it was the Sipadan Barrier Reef that offered us a truly spectacular dive. Whilst out on the Sipadan Barrier Reef our dives saw a stunningly large Oceanic Manta – Manta Birostris. This is the largest Ray species currently known and it is a wonderful and beautiful ray. Not shy of the divers this ray glides past them and they swim along the reef. This is an extremely intelligent creature and has the largest brain of the fish population. Research is still discovering new things about their social interactions and behaviour. Most sightings we have of Manta are of the Reef Mantas – Manta Alfredi. There have been few sightings of the Manta Birostris in these waters, so this was an exceptional dive this Christmas!
Of course, we are not just about the big stuff over here; we love the little things as well. This month we have seen an octopus that many Muck-diving-lovers will be envious of. Just 30 metres from our jetty our eagle-eyed guides spotted a Wonderpus! This stunning cephalopod has red and white banded arms and two horns that come off its eyes. This distinct looking octopus can often be confused with the Mimic Octopus. Many struggle to tell the difference as their colour and shape are so similar. However, there are a few subtle differences. The Mimic has a distinct white line running around its arms, and the pattern of its body is slightly different. Can you spot the differences in these photos below?
For videos of these incredible creatures check out our Facebook page :)
As part of the festive spirit we also had a pub quiz to raise money for the MNDA. http://www.mndassociation.org/. Our Christmas Elves created a quiz to help get everyone in the mood. We raised 480rm for the charity and are hugely grateful to everyone who came and took park! It was a great night filled with festive tunes. The winners of the quiz received Scuba Junkie T-shirts, whilst the runners up got Beers and Drinks.
We hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and we wish you the very best in the New Year!!
Love the Scuba Junkie Team