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Scuba Diving in Malaysia

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Malaysia

In her debut article for Scubaverse, Ivana Craft takes a look at some of  the best diving that Malaysia has to offer

Located in South East Asia, Malaysia consists of several tropical islands that are the very definition of biodiversity and stunning natural beauty. To fully appreciate everything Malaysia has to offer, the true nature lover and thrill seeker has no choice but to venture underwater. The warm and bountiful waters of Malaysia have long been highly coveted diving sites by professional and amateur divers alike. Hundreds of dive sites are scattered across the islands. They are as diverse as they are stunning, with sites to match any diving preference and level of diving expertise. From wall and cavern dives to wreck dives and vast coral gardens, you are guaranteed to have the diving experience of a lifetime. Over three thousand species of marine life call these waters home, including some of the most immaculate and vast coral formations in the world. When in Malaysia, be sure to visit at least one of these sites.

Sugar Wreck, Perhentian Islands

Of all the diveable wreck sites around Malaysia, the Sugar Wreck is among the more recent. This huge sugar hauler was sunk to a depth of 100 feet during a vicious monsoon in 2000 near the Perhenian Islands. The sea has completely taken over this vessel, as it is now covered in shells, coral formations and a veritable cornucopia of flora and fauna. Small fish find refuge in the mazelike interior of the wreck, while predators circle the perimeter on the lookout for a quick snack. A large school of scorpionfish have made the wreck their home, and jacks, snapper and trevally are never far away. Blue spotted stingrays and bamboo sharks lurk in the back of the wreck, under the sugar freighter’s massive cargo doors.

Malaysia

Sipadan Jetty/Drop-off

Sipadan has a special place in the geographic makeup of Malaysia, as it is the country’s only oceanic island. The foundation of the island is an extinct volcano that, over thousands of years, has been completely overgrown with living corals. The corals provide a density and diversity of marine life that is hard to match anywhere in the world. The most popular and accessible dive site on the island is called the Drop-off. The site got its name from the sheer 600 foot drop into deep ocean that is almost completely vertical. Perfect for wall dives, divers can feast their eyes on lush and ubiquitous hard and soft corals that decorate the wall, and the many thousands of species that call this coral home. Turtles are common in the waters around Sipadan, as both hawksbill and green turtles mate and nest in the area. Enormous schools of barracuda, mackerel and batfish form tornados of shining flesh, while majestic white tip reef sharks and leopard sharks make up the top of the food chain.

Turtle Cavern, Sipadan

The Turtle Cavern, also known as the Turtle Tomb, is a site that is truly unique in the world, and can only be experienced in Malaysia. The Cavern is in fact a sprawling complex of caves that is littered with thousands of ghostly turtle skeletons. For reasons that are still unclear to scientists, turtles from all around the area flock to this location to die, and make for a breathtaking, if a little macabre sight. It is not all skeletons, however, as the caves are home to a thriving green sea turtle population. This site requires an experienced guide, as there are many dead ends in the mazelike cave complex, and the corridors may be quite claustrophobic to the unprepared. Air pockets are a huge attraction, enabling divers to surface, take off their breathing apparatus and talk to their diving companions, whilst still in the caves.

Malaysia

Pulau Sibuan, Semporna

Pulau Sibuan seems like a place that time forgot. There is almost no modern infrastructure on this lush island, and the population consists of a mere handful of Bajau families; a tribe of seafaring nomads. There are no public facilities or resorts on the island, but what it does possess in abundance are some of the best muck diving sites in the world. Some of the weirdest and most elusive creatures can be seen here in large numbers, from the alien like nudibranches, pygmy seahorses and frogfish to the more common but no less stunning lionfish, scorpionfish and lionfish. Most dive sites around Semporna are well suited to inexperienced divers. However, the monsoon season brings with it lowered visibility and strong currents, so special care should be taken during this time.

Ivana Craft is a blogger and traveler, continuously looking for an adventure. She loves diving and likes to write about her experiences and share them with others. She also writes for asiadivingvacation.com, a company that offers accommodation located in Malaysia.

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Book Release: Diving the Thistlegorm – The Ultimate Guide to a World War II Shipwreck

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Diving the Thistlegorm is a unique in-depth look at one of the world’s best-loved shipwrecks. In this highly visual guide, cutting edge photographic methods enable views of the wreck and its fascinating cargo which were previously impossible.

This book is the culmination of decades of experience, archaeological and photographic expertise, many hours underwater, months of computer processing time, and days spent researching and verifying the history of the ship and its cargo. For the first time, Diving the Thistlegorm brings the rich and complex contents of the wreck together, identifying individual items and illustrating where they can be found. As the expert team behind the underwater photography, reconstructions and explanations take you through the wreck in incredible detail, you will discover not only what has been learned but also what mysteries are still to be solved.

Find out more about:

  • One of the world’s greatest dives.
  • Incredible ‘photogrammetry’ shows the wreck and cargo in a whole new light.
  • Meticulous detail presented in a readable style by experts in their respective fields.

About the authors:

Simon Brown is an underwater photographer and photogrammetry/3D expert who has documented underwater subjects for a wide range of clients including Historic England, Wessex Archaeology and television companies such as National Geographic Channel and Discovery Canada. Jon Henderson is Reader in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh where he is the Director of the Underwater Archaeology Research Centre. With specific research interests in submerged prehistoric settlements and developing underwater survey techniques, he has directed underwater projects in the UK, Poland, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Jamaica and Malaysia. Alex Mustard is a former marine biologist and award-winning underwater photographer. In 2018 he was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for “Services to underwater photography”. Mike Postons pioneered the use of digital 3D modelling to visualise shipwrecks, as well as the processes of reconstructing original ships from historic plans. He has worked with a number of organisations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Historic England and the Nautical Archaeological Society.


About the book:

  • Release date 25 November 2020
  • Limited run of Hardbacks
  • RRP £35
  • ISBN 978-1-909455-37-5
  • 240 photo-packed pages
  • 240 x 160 mm

Available to pre-order now from Divedup.com, Amazon, online, and from retailers.

Check back on Scubaverse.com for a review of the book coming soon!

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Deptherapy’s Dr Richard Cullen becomes a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

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Dr Richard Cullen, Chairman of Scuba Diving Rehabilitation Charity Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education, has been recognised as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society is a prestigious Fellowship that is open to those who demonstrate a sufficient involvement in geography or an allied subject through publications, research or professional experience.

Paul Rose, Deptherapy’s Vice Chair, and a world renowned explorer, author, broadcaster, who is a former Vice Chair of the RGS said: 

“This is a huge achievement by Richard. His Fellowship is richly deserved, and a direct result of his steadfast commitment to preserving our oceans through Deptherapy’s very powerful ‘Protecting Our Oceans’ Programme.  I know the top team at the RGS are looking forward to welcoming Richard into the Society.”

The RGS was founded in 1830 to advance geographical research, education, fieldwork and expeditions, as well as by advocating on behalf of the discipline and promoting geography to public audiences.

Paul Toomer, President of RAID, said:

“I have been close friends with Richard for many years and his passion for our seas, even at 70 years of age, is undiminished.  Deptherapy are the world leaders in adaptive scuba diving teaching and are our much valued partners.  Taking UK Armed Forces Veterans who have suffered life changing mental and/or physical challenges and engaging them in major marine biology expeditions, is to most of us beyond the realms of possibility.  The skills these guys have to develop is just awesome.  This is a great honour for Richard, a great honour for Deptherapy, and also for us as their partners.  The diving world must come together to celebrate and acknowledge Richard’s achievement.”

Richard joins some distinguished Fellows of the RGS.  Former Fellows include Ernest Shackleton and many other notable explorers and geographers.

Richard said:

“I am both honoured and humbled to become a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. When I was invited to apply for a Fellowship, I was, which is very unusual for me, lost for words.  I hope it will allow me to take our message of Protecting Our Oceans to a larger audience and to further develop our programmes.  The Fellowship is a recognition of the charity’s work to raise awareness of the plight of our oceans.  The credit belongs to a group of individuals who have overcome massive challenges to let alone qualify as divers but now to progress to marine biology expedition diving”.

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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