Sipadan, off the northeast coast of Borneo, is well-known for turtles. There are also many whitetip reef sharks, bumphead parrotfish and many other species. The wall offshore drops straight off to two thousand feet from chest-deep water, a great place for a beach dive.

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The wall:


Green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas

turtle Charlotte and a turtle turtle turtle silhouette

We saw turtles on just about every dive. People told us the number of turtles had declined and there used to be more, but for us they were really easy to find and photograph. The second photo shows Charlotte moving in for a shot.


Whitetip reef shark, Triaenodon obesus

whitetip reef shark whitetip reef shark

We saw plenty of sharks but they did not get too close. The exception was on our checkout dive where a shark swam in with a school of jacks. The jacks rubbed against the coarse skin of the shark to remove parasites. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take our cameras on the checkout dive. And of course we never saw this behavior again.


Bumphead parrotfish, Bolbometopon muricatum

bumphead parrotfish bumphead parrotfish

These huge bumphead parrotfish, Bolbometopon muricatum, were sleeping in nooks in the wall just in front of the resort. They were there for several nights and then they were all gone.


Clark's anemonefish, Amphiprion clarkii, and closeup with eggs

clownfish in anemone clownfish with eggs

False clown anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris

clownfish clownfish

More clownfish with their anemones.

Pink anemonefish, Amphiprion perideraion

Three-spot dascyllus, Dascyllus trimaculatus


Six-banded angelfish, Pomocanthus sexstriatus


Yellow-mask angelfish, Pomacanthus xanthometopon

Regal angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus


Bigeye trevally, Caranx sexfasciatus



Titan triggerfish, Balistoides viridescens

titan triggerfish

These triggerfish are extremely aggressive if they have a nest full of eggs.

Clown triggerfish, Balistoides conspicillum

Yellowmargin triggerfish, Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus

Orange-lined triggerfish, Balistapus undulatus


Island goatfish, Parupeneus insularis



Common lionfish, Pterois volitans


Spotfin lionfish, Pterois antennata



Pyramid butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis

pyramid butterflyfish

Ornate butterflyfish, Chaetodon ornatissimus

Teardrop butterflyfish, Chaetodon unimaculatus

Pennant bannerfish, Heniochus chrysostomus

Panda butterflyfish, Chaetodon adiergastos

Humphead bannerfish, Heniochus varius (left)

Longnose butterflyfish, Forcipiper flavissimus

Raccoon butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunula


Bignose unicornfish (dark phase), Naso vlamingti

unicorn fish

Whitemargin unicornfish, Naso annulatus


Blackspotted puffer, Arothron nigropunctatus

Star puffer, Arothron stellatus

Moorish idol, Zanclus cornutus:


Freckled hawkfish, Paracirrhites forsten


Diagonal-banded sweetlips, Plectorhinchus lineatus

Many-spotted sweetlips, Plectorhincus chaetodonoides


Giant moray, Gymnothorax javanicus

Yellowmargin moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus


Rockmover wrasse, Novaculichthys tsaeniourus (JP)

Humphead wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus (IP)

Redbreasted wrasse, Cheilinus fasciatus

Longnose hogfish, Bodianus prognathus

Other fish:

Bluefin trevally, Caranx melampygus

[as yet unidentified]

Pickhandle barracuda, Sphyraena jello

Flasher scorpionfish, Scorpaenopsis macrochir

Whitespot cardinalfish, Apogon dispar

Indo-Pacific sergeant, Abudefduf vaigiensis

Bridled monocle bream, Scolopsis bilineatus

Golden damsel, Amblyglyphidodon aureus

striped surgeonfish, Acanthurus lineatus

Pacific sailfin tang, Zebrasoma veliferum

Blackstripe cardinalfish, Apogon nigrofasciatus

Coral grouper, Cephalopholis miniata

Leopard grouper, Cephalopholis leopardus

Whitespot soldierfish, Myripristis woodsi

Pinnate spadefish, Platax pinnatus

Golden spadefish, Platax boersii

Highfin coral grouper, Plectropomus oligacanthus

Crescent-tail bigeye, Priacanthus hamrur

Bluestreak fusilier, Pterocaesio tile

[as yet unidentified]

Whitetip soldierfish, Myripristis vittata

[as yet unidentified]

Reticulated dascyllus, Dascyllus reticulatus

[as yet unidentified]

[as yet unidentified]

Humpnose bigeye bream, Monotaxis grandoculis

[as yet unidentified]

Blue-green chromis, Chromis viridis

Ambon damsel, Pomacentrus amboinensis

Anthias, Pseudanthis sp.


Blue and yellow fusilier, Caesio teres



Diana's chromodoris, Chromodoris dianae


We found nudibranchs like this one along the wall in front of the resort.

Willan's chromodoris, Chromodoris willani

Sea cucumbers:

Lampert's sea cucumber, Symaptula lamperti

Lion's paw sea cucumber, Euapta godeffroyi

Bohadschia sp.


Painted spiny lobster, Panulinus versicolor


Reticulated hinge-beak shrimp, Cinetorhynchus reticulatus

Banded coral shrimp, Stenopus hispidus


Convex crab, Carpilius convexus

Anemone hermit crab:

Anemone hermit cab, Dardanus pedunculatus


Indian feather-duster worm, Sabellastarte indica

Sea stars:

Old Club Sea Star, Mithrodia clavigera

Nardoa sp.

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 and we will correct this page.

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Last modified 23 January 2023