Pulau Mabul is a small 20 hectares oval shaped
island ringed with sandy beaches and perched on the northwest corner of a larger
200 hectare reef. Lying 15km to the north of Pulau Sipadan, only 15 minutes away
by boat, the reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and separated from Pulau
Sipadan by very deep water. The island has a resident fishing community and is covered
in coconut plantations.
Through small and mostly bottom dwellers, many of these creatures are unique, stunningly
colourful, often rare and sometimes bizarre. The astonishing thing is that most of
these creatures can be found on the 'House Reef', just in front of the two resorts.
The remarkable multicoloured Ornate Cuttlefish continually changes its hues when
excited, such bright colours are unusual among cuttlefish. It can also change its
body colour to blend in well with its surroundings. Only 50 to 70mm long, all its
movements are in 'slow motion' including feeding It moves about on the sea floor
using its tentacles and can be seen laying eggs in discarded containers and other
Tiny juvenile crocodilefish and stunningly colourful mandarinfish are everywhere.
Mandarinfish tend to come out into the open in the late afternoon and are frequently
observed mating away from their refuge under the falling light at dusk. Equally beautiful
are the variety of dragonets, the juveniles are quite different from the adults.
Flying Gurnards can be found as deep as 100m, spectacular when spreading their wings,
they are well camouflaged when their wings are tucked in while resting. If disturbed,
they leap off by muscle power then glide long distances on their wings to escape.
The only wall dive is 'Lobster Wall', a hanging garden of colourful soft corals and
a good place to find sleeping parrotfish at night.