Pesky pirates and Mabul Island diving

OK yes, so “better than the Great Barrier Reef” is a big claim. But one of our Aussie friends on the rally said he’d never seen better diving, even in Australia. And the Tun Sakaran Marine Park web page claims that a scientific study by Dr Elizabeth Wood, over a 20 year period, found the richness of marine life here is on a par with the Great Barrier Reef.

We haven’t been to Australia so can’t take sides, but we can say that this part of the world is truly spectacular and we have never spent so much time under water.

Gazetted in 2004, Tun Sakaran Marine Park is Sabah’s largest marine park. Some of the islands have freshwater streams, pools and small waterfalls as well as healthy mangroves. Like its larger cousin, Pulau Boheydulang has a ridge running along its length with three separate peaks rising to 366m. It is also where the ranger station is located and where we anchored.

Pulau Boheydulang is one of eight islands in the park, and is separated from its larger neighbour, Bodgaya, by a coral-covered channel. Scattered all over the sea bed here are these chocolate chip star fish, aka “the horned sea star” or even Protoreaster nodosus. At low tide the channel dried so we kept our navigation to high tides only.

The park is accessible by tourist boat from the town of Semporna on mainland Sabah. But to date there is nowhere to stay in the park and it is out of bounds to sailboats. With special permission from the government, we were allowed to stay for a week with our military escort.
This is the first of a two-parter, with plenty more of this beautiful place to come next week.

Thank you for your support in these difficult times.

Peace and fair winds,
Liz and Jamie xx

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