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The Turtle Tomb is cave diving in a fantastic deep cave known because of its many turtle skeletons that unfortunately couldn't find their way home anymore.
|Name Dive Site:||Turtle Cavern, Turtle Tomb|
|Inserted/Added by: ||sipadan_scuba|
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An unforgettable experience is a dive through the mysterious cave system of the Turtle Tomb, just off Sipadan Island. Find your way to the TurtleTomb; a myriad of passageways lead through the reef some 20m below the surface. This is nothing for the fainthearted as the dead ends are many on the way to the tomb nearly 200m from the entrance where turtle skulls and bones litter the bottom.
Warning signs clearly indicate the danger beyond the entrance and those going into the cave need to be fully equipped for cave exploration as the risk of getting lost in a silt out is real and imminent.
The cave is one of the most beautiful coral caves that can be found anywhere. Unlike at limestone caves no stalagmites have formed here but the colors at the walls do indicate different water levels over time. The white sandy bottom and bright colored ceiling enhance rather than absorb the light of the torches. The shelves are home to the caves occupants, most notably flashlight fish, moray eels, spiny cave lobster, shrimp and large snapper that often take advantage of a divers light to get their prey. The skeletons of a dolphin and a marlin can be found, and an air pocket allows to talk to another before a narrow passageway leads to the actual tomb where so many turtles have found their last resting place.
Messages from readers:
I am a PADI Master Instructor and one of Asia's few fully qualified cave divers trained to do deco dives to caves as deep as 50m using 3 tanks with 3 different gas mixtures. I have logged well over 500 cave dives to the Turtle Tomb and with the help of twin-tanks with manifold, stage tanks, strong torches and reels & spools I pushed through to the furthest corners of the cave system.
Here are some useful first-hand information: At Sipadan Scuba we have a team of the highest qualified cave diving instructors in Asia. We can conduct the full range of cave diving courses up to Level 5 (several tanks, trimix, etc.) as well as cavern and cave diving instructor courses. The Turtle Cave consists of several interconnected parts with the Cavern being the easily accessable part while the actual tomb is far inside and shall only be attemped with an experienced guide using full cave diving equipment. Sipadan Scuba and Smart Divers are currently the only dive centres who have both the expertise and equipment available to conduct such dives safely. This cave is a very very large coral cave and unlike limestone caves which are larger it is full of life (and death) if you know where to look making it one of the most exciting dives in Asia! Jerry Reichart
Just to the south of the Drop Off entrance, at 20m depth is the entrance to the Turtle Cavern. The cavern, which is actually a series of interconnected caves, is sometimes referred to as the turtle tomb because of the number turtles that have got lost inside and drowned. Their skeletons make an eerie sight. On the entrance to the cavern skull and cross bones signs warn of the danger to divers. The caverns can silt up quickly to reduce visibility and only those properly trained should consider entering. Several off the Sipadan resorts run short courses to guide divers into the caverns.
The most well-known feature of this dive site is Turtle Cave, a giant cavern in 20 meters of water that goes all the way through the island. Early divers in the cave found turtle skeletons resting in the silty bottom, unfortunate souls who entered the cave, became lost, and drowned before being able to make their way out again. You must have proper training to fully enter this cave, but even swimming just a few meters into the cave can be a thrilling experience, as you look back and see a blue panorama framed by the cave walls.
George can often be seen here—a resident barracuda over two meters long who makes the cave his home. When you're lucky, you'll be accompanied inside the cave by a few passing white-tip reef sharks. But Turtle Cave isn't the only highlight of this dive: a resident school of bigeye trevally—numbering in the thousands—hang out just 100 meters from the mouth of the cave, greeting divers as they ascend from and offering a beautiful end to one of the defining dives of Sipadan.
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