Mataking island

Trip Start Oct 03, 2012
Trip End Nov 28, 2013

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ok Semporna doesn't win any prizes as a beautiful place to stay - it's frankly a dump. Divers come here to dive they don't come here to enjoy anything much that Semporna has to offer other than real life!

We spent a whole day yesterday on the coach getting here and (in this instance) we were thoroughly relieved we had planned ahead rather than just turn up. The arrangement with Sipidan Scuba Divers has to be one of the better operators here and we felt comfortable in clean and relatively modern accommodation.

We sorted our equipment out last night and it was an early start out to Mataking Island. Mataking isn't Sipidan - it's a 15 minute speed boat trip from Semporna. Sipidan is a popular place to dive and there are mountains of restrictions to diving there. One of those restrictions limits the number of divers there at anyone time to a maximum of 120. You have to book a place and we managed to get Sipidan as our last dive site - leaving the best until last!

Still downplaying Mataking island would be a shame. We did 3 dives at Mataking - The Wall, The Wreck and Coral Island. Stunning stuff! Particularly the range of different coral and the rarer black coral. Also we saw lots of Turtles, unicorn fish and Bumphead parrot fish. I'm deliberately not going through the 'very long' list of other more commonly seen tropical fish. Amazing as this was there isn't the time or space in this blog - how complacent am I getting!!!!

Mataking like other places we have dived has suffered from both dynamite and psionide fishing from the locals. It's pretty devastating to the habitat. The locals make money quickly by getting a sack load of fish to sell at the local market and the tourists (mainly divers) get miffed and then eventually will stop diving. To be honest there's not much forward thinking on behalf of the authorities in terms of investment in education or policing to protect a potential tourist industry that might not be all about diving in the end. There is and (seemingly always has been) poverty, the market and the mosque. In places like Semporna Internet or the mobile phone doesn't seem to have changed things too much...

Anyway enough of that - we're knackered from a great days diving and have Mantabuan Island tomorrow!!! Woohoooooo!!!
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