The island of Sipadan is worldfamous as the place to be to admire turtles and barracudas. But also the rumors of an enourmous variation in species brings loads of divers to Malaysia for a once in an lifetime diveexperience. After hearing all these great stories we wanted to see it with our own eyes so we took the plane to Malaysia. We could spend here one week and were very curious to see how many animals we would find this week.
From the moment Jacques Cousteau mentioned the enormous biodiverity under water Sipadan has grown out into the undisputed number one dive site of Malaysia. The island of Sipadan lies at the East coast of the Malaysian part of Borneo. It is a splendid tropical island with small sandy beaches in the middle of the Celebes sea. In the history Pulau Sipadan has known a number of ups and downs. Around 1800 some tribe leaders on the island of Dinawan celebrated the fact that they had received the exclusive rigths to collect turtle eggs on the island of Sipadan from the sultan. For the tribe this was an important source of income, but for the island of Sipadan it was a dark page in history. In the year 1964 the island of Sipadan became part of the turtle reserve of Sabah and by the year of 1993, the Britisch declared the area to bird sanctuary. This was an important step for the protection of the animals who would make the island famous later on. The island gained its international acquaintance after Jacques Cousteau had made a film about the turtles of the island of Sipadan.
At some point there were about five different resorts on the minuscule island. This of course meant a lot of divers entering the water each day. By the year of 1997 people became aware of the fact that these large numbers of divers would harm the nature and the government ineffectively tried to limit the number of tourists. In 2004, the Malaysian government made a new and successful attempt limiting the number of tourists entering the area. By the end of 2004 all resorts had to go off the island. The plans were executed and this is still the way at this time. Diving is still possible but only from the neighboring resorts and only with 100 divers each day.