Mabul, near Sipadan, is a great site for macro photography. It had been fished with dynamite, but it is slowly coming back.

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Long-beaked coralfish, Chelmon rostratus

needlenose butterfly fish

Most of the fish here were small, like this butterfly.


Network pipefish, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus

Banded messmate pipefish, Corythoichthys sp.

Ringed pipefish, Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus

Mandarin fish, Synchiropus splendidus:


Fimbriated moray, Gymnothorax fimbriatus

Fine-speckled moray, Echidna delicatula

Anemone fishes:

Clark's anemonefish, Amphiprion clarkii

Pink anemonefish, Amphiprion perideraion

False clown anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris

Trumpetfish, Aulostomus chinensis:


Vanikoro sweeper, Pempheris vanicolensis


Giant frogfish, Antennarius commersoni

Crocodile fish, Papilloculiceps longiceps:

Lizard fish:

Reef lizardfish, Synodus variegatus


Black-saddled toby, Canthigsster valentini

Other fish:

Redhead coralgoby, Paragobiodon echinocephalus

White-belly damsel, Amblyglyphidodon leucogaster

Longfin spadefish (juvenile), Platax teira

Scalefin anthias, Pseudanthias squamipinnis

Bicolor parrotfish (JP), Cetoscarus bicolor

[as yet unidentified]

Blenny, Cirripectes sp.

Toothy cardinalfish, Cheilodipterus isostigmus

Yellownose slender anthias, Luzonichthys whiteleyi

Whitestreaked grouper, Epinephalus ongus


Platyhelminthes flatworms are simple, bilateral, soft-bodied invertebrates. They have no body cavity and no circulatory or respiratory organs. Oxygen and nutrients pass through their bodies by diffusion. The digestive organ has only one opening. Many flatworms, including these two, mimic nudibranchs.

Pseudoceros sp.

Pseudoceros feruugineus


Streaked chromodoris, Chromodoris strigata


Bullock's hypselodoris, Hypselodoris bullocki

nudibranch nudibranch closeup nudibranch and star

Paul's favorite! These animals are related to garden slugs, but are much prettier. One even posed with a sea star, Fromia monilis!

Pimpled phyllidiella, Phylidiella pustulosa

Swollen phyllidia, Phyllidia varicosa

Sky blue phyllidia, Phyllidia coelestis

Kubaryana's nembrotha, Nembrotha kubaryana

Anna's chromodoris, Chromodoris annae

Willan's chromodoris, Chromodoris willani

Ocellated phyllidia, Phyllidia ocellata

Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Odontodactylus scyllarus:

mantis shrimp

The mantis shrimp lives in a hole. It is unusual to see one out walking. They are very fast and have very powerful claws, strong enough to break bones.

Chambered Nautilus, Nautilus pompilius:

chambered nautilus

Paul had always wanted to see a chambered nautilus. They live in very deep water. The fishermen set traps for them. We borrowed this one to photograph.

Sea cucumbers:

Sea cucumbers are marine animakls with a leathery skin and elongated body containing a single branched gonad.

Eye-spotted sea cucumber, Stichopus ocellatus

Blackspotted sea cucumber, Bohadschia graeffei

Sea stars:

Nardoa sp.

Linckia laevigata

Granular sea star, Choriaster granulatus

Warty sea star, Echinaster callosus

Crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci


Salps are barrel-shaped planktonic tunichates. They move by contracting, pumping water through their gelatinous bodies. Invidiuals combine into "chains".

Sea urchins:

Sea unrchins are spiny globular echinoderms. Like all echinoderms (including se stars) the adult animals have fiuve-fold symmetry.

Black longspine sea urchin, Diadema setosum

Diadema sp.


Squat shrimp, Thor amboinensis

NOTE: We are not experts on these species. If you find that we have misidentified something, or can identify one that we could not, please let us know so we can correct this page.

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Last modified 23 January 2023