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The Semporna region is the diving and snokelling paradise of Sabah. At this vicinity there are two marine parks, including the world-famous Sipadan Island Park and Tun Sakaran Marine Park which have a very high level of marine diversity. Both Parks were established about the same time in 2004. Sipadan the only oceanic island in Malaysia, attract scuba divers from all over the world. Reef Sharks, Hammer Head Sharks, Barracudas, Sea Turtles, and host of fishes are what made the divers come back for more. The Semporna Islands Park, which is another name for Tun Sakaran Park, is formed by eight islands and three reefs. Hard and soft Corals, with a wide varieties of reef fishes like, Anemonefish, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Cardinalfish, Damselfish, Surgeonfish, and Wrasse are found here.
The Semporna region is also part of the Coral Triangle, which is home to one of the most diverse collection of marine life in the world. According to the WWF the high levels of marine biodiversity in this region in term of species per unit area is unmatched by any other parts of the world. In the Semporna Islands Park alone there are over 520 species of fish recorded so far. As for the corals 255 species have been spotted, as well as 140 species of sponge. A significant numbers of these species are only found here and they are not found in other parts of Malaysia. These species include a number of new ones that are yet to be described or named.
Apart from these two parks, islands like Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking and Bom Bom also offer great diving and snorkelling sites for the visitors. Mabul is the main island for accommodation in the Golden Triangle, a term given to the islands of Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai, since they form a triangle on the map. Mabul has many great dive sites if one is into macro-diving. Kapalai is actually more of a reef than an island as most of its sand bars will be covered by water during high tides. A five-star resort on stilts was built on the reef. Guests who stay at this resort have the good fortune of jumping into the sea from their rooms, and snorkelling their time away. The snorkelling sites here are of high density of corals and fishes.
Below were pictures taken recently during a few snorkelling sessions in Mabul, Kapalai and the Semporna Islands Park. Most of these fishes are found at the shallow water, so snorkellers will surely be able to see them in their natural inhabitant.
Other than fishes, turtle, cuttlefish and stingray are also often encountered by snorkellers and divers here.