WOW … is the only way to start this report. Blacktip reef sharks, mating cuttlefish, 100’s of blue spotted rays, coral cat sharks, bamboo sharks, schooling barracuda, schooling trevally, incredible viz and a WHALESHARK.
With a couple of late cancellations for our Easter Long Weekend trip, we headed off to Tioman, Malaysia Thursday night with 14 divers on the MV Seaborne from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
The 28th March was a full moon, so we played it safe and stayed around Tioman, Aur and Tinggi.
Tioman’s viz was a bit average, especially at the Sipadan Wreck.
It was also milky at Renggis, but I still managed to see the black tip and get a short video.
The best dives at Tioman were at Tiger Reef. The viz was excellent at 20m with loads of fish and colourful soft coral everywhere. Schooling barracuda and bat fish seemed to be following us around. There was no current at all, so we ventured out from the main part of Tiger Reef to look around for something big. Spotted a few rays, but nothing big.
The next dive was at Labas, and all my guys have never been through the swim throughs. I was guiding Richard, Damian, James and Ben. We jumped in, descended and went straight for the first swim through. Dark at first and then bright sunshine from above, fish everywhere, as we swam through the first cavern created by all the rocks at Labas. One swim through is never enough, so we did another and another and another all equally good. Richard was running low on air, so we did our safety stop and ascended back to the boat.
The night dive was at Fan Canyon Bay. Karen’s group of Anna, Kelvin, Shorne and Apryl saw a coral cat shark, crabs and sleeping parrotfish. I did the night dive too and spent most of the time trying to get my guys to turn around and start heading back to the boat. They decided that the shark was more interesting than following me. They finally turned around and the night dive was over.
Friday’s dinner was a steam boat and we enjoyed this in a calm bay. The steam boat was just awesome, although I did not add whiskey to the steam boat like the other table did. We managed to finish just about everything even though a few people had to cancel their trip at the last minute. After dinner we headed for Pulau Aur in flat calm seas. I was sitting on the bow enjoying the wind in my hair having one of my favourite beverages.
We arrived at Aur early Saturday morning, engines off at around 2am. I enjoyed the quietness of the boat and slept on the top deck. I woke at 7am, made coffee, ate some hot cross buns and chatted with a few early risers, wiped the sleep from my eyes and went and woke the rest of the divers.
We headed straight to Rayner’s Rock because there had been sightings of a whaleshark. Rayner’s Rock was just incredible with 30m viz. Schooling trevally and rather large bump head parrot fish pottered around the rocks.
Karen’s group saw the whaleshark, although only briefly. I believe that it is still counted as a sighting. Karen couldn’t quite get a good photo as she was holding her surface marker buoy (smb) and trying to change the wet lens on her camera at the same time. But you can just make out the whaleshark’s silhouette in the frame.
We decided to do another dive at Rayner’s Rock hoping to see the whaleshark again. I took my group to the point where the rock meets the sand and the open sea is ahead, we waited and waited and waited, but no damn whaleshark. Everything else was there, first a school of barracuda, second the bump heads, third was the trevally and I was thinking fourth dive would be a whaleshark. Unfortunately no one saw the whale shark. When we surfaced we heard that another boat saw a small whale shark at Lang. The sight I was planning to do next, but stayed at Rayner’s Rock. Bugger!
We did go the Lang for the next dive, but again no whaleshark. But it was still a great dive, great viz and so many fish it was hard to see the stag horn coral in some patches. During the dive we bumped into the other group led by Dave. He was guiding Gerald, E-Fei and Matthew. They were all trying to pull Dave’s pointer out of something he managed to get it stuck in.
Next, our fourth dive, was Pinang and the viz was not so good with a cloud of silt covering a lot of the dive site. The highlight was the mating cuttlefish.
Karen led the night divers at Diver Lodge House Reef. They all returned complaining about the strong currents, lack of fish life and the disco tech light show from another group of 12 divers all wearing yellow fins that descended upon them half way through the dive. As they were diving, the tide direction changed and made it tough for them to reach the boat. Exhausted but safely onboard, we started the now famous MV Seaborne BBQ.
After the BBQ we headed to a dive sight called “Dolly Parton”, but we re-named it to “Pamela Anderson” for the more modern era. If you have not worked out why we call it this, it is because there are two large islands shaped like what both of the previously mentioned ladies have plentiful supply of. This site is nearby Sibu and recently the viz has been good and today was just incredible.
We descended after waiting for James again, to 15-20m viz. James takes a long time to enter the water despite gearing up first. I think I will need to ensure he starts gearing up at least 30 minutes before the planned dive time on our next trip.
The wall is covered in all sorts of colourful soft coral, groupers and fusiliers littered the dive site. We swam to the right of the right boob and found this point that was just amazing, there must have been a thousand fish of all types. We stayed there for a while and then circled back and dived in the cleavage looking for lobsters. I could not find one, but Karen’s and Dave’s groups did.
Richard was low on air again, so I sent him up and we continued the dive on the left boob. Again not disappointed with the colors and fish life. We must have seen 20 blue spotted rays.
The last dive of the weekend was at Jack Rock. It was the highlight for the weekend, well, second from the whale shark. There was little to no current at Jack Rock and 20m viz, which is unheard of. We headed straight to a depth of 20m in search of the bamboo sharks and it wasn’t long before I found 3 in one hole. Everyone had a look and then we went shallow to look for pipe fish.
I spent 10 minutes looking, but could not find any of the resident pipe fish. Instead I found loads of nudis, whites ones, red ones, green ones, purple ones and even nudi eggs.
During our safety stop Karen pointed out a nudi to me that I had already seen, so I then showed her the other two nearby and the eggs that she had missed. Ha ha!
She took a bunch of photos as the whole group did an extended safety stop. I did not want to get out of the water, it was just too nice.
Everyone was low on air trying to squeeze every last amazing moment out of Jack Rock. Even at 5 metres there was so much to see. But sadly we had to ascend and head home.
Long weekends are just perfect for diving from Singapore. I wish every weekend lasted 3 days. And of course the hot cross buns, chocolate Easter eggs and assorted rabbit sweets went down a treat.
Wonderful weekend! Happy Easter everyone!
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Cheers – Gary
Video by Gary Savins and photos by Karen Savins