800x600THE SECRET OF SIPADAN, THE TURTLE TOMB
The sea always have had a special place in human dreams, it is the place
of sailors and divers legends and even
the subject of great novels like Julio Verne’s Thousand Leagues Under the sea, where
the professor Pierre Aronax prisoner of Captain Nemo narrate his adventures in
his trip in Nautilos.
The deep space of the sea keeps many mysteries that we have tried to
investigate and develop, nevertheless in many cases we could just being
surprised and amazed before its wonders.
35 nautical miles from Sempornas Town in the Borneo Island in the Malaysian
part, in the Celebes Sea, is Pulau Sipadan, volcanic origin island better known
as one of the best diving sites all over the world and his better kept secret
is the impressive turtle tomb.
It’s an under the water limestone cave system, with an intricate labyrinth
of tunnels and chambers, where we can find green turtles skeletons and in which divers without the proper
training, equipment and guide have lost inside losing their own life too.
But what is that makes this place so mysterious and fascinating in the
same time? Is it the adrenalin of being in a tomb under the water or the
skeletons that keeps inside? or perhaps the beauty of its tunnels and his
endless darkness? Or just simply the fact that not many divers in the world
could say that have been there facing death face to face.
This submarine cave was discovered in the year of 1989 by the submarine
explorer Jacques Cousteau, during an expedition to Borneo and was helped by the
local diver Clement Lee.
The legend said that this turtle cemetery is the last refuge of turtles in
which they come to die when they feel is their time, is a romantic story, but
could this be the reality?
In order to explore this place you have to get a cave diving
certification and being accompanied by some of the local guides that are specialist
in this kind of diving, is a dive that has some sort of risk and you have to
take all the necessary precautions to do of this a memorable experience.
This time i will talk about this magical and strange trip that had
happened thanks to the crazy ideas of my diving buddy Simon Carne (Australia)
through the turtle tomb, lets follow the guide line of our instructor Jerry
Richard of Sipadan Scuba that will bring us to develop its secrets.
All begun with the first day of theory where we learned the phrase that
resumes all the principles of cave diving “THANKS GOD ALL DIVERS LIVED”Thank
is for Training, never go further your training limits.God
for Guidelines, always have a guideline for going in and out of the
for Air, check the air all the time, and follow the 3 parts rule, divide
your air in 3 equal parts, first one for getting in, second to get out, and
third of reserve in case of emergency.Divers
for Deep, keep an eye in the depth always stay in the limits of time
and depth.Lived for
Lights, the illumination is pretty important, always bring a primary
lamp and a back up.
After we have learned some concepts and doing some first, second tides
and doing loops we proceeded to practice it in the sea, this was such an odyssey
for me because when we jump in to the water there was high tide so the current
was strong so it was hard but in the end we did it!
After this we just have to wait to go in to the cave and practice all
the things learned and do the different exercises for the proper cave dive training.
In our first entrance to the cave we practice putting the guidelines, first my buddy Simon, who i
have to tell did it great, then i had to do it, i was doing fine but somehow with my tank i pushed the line and it did not
get as tight as it should, so i have to undone it and try it again, but i get
so nervous that I get distracted and next thing I remember is that I had thrown
the spool and missed my buoyancy, thing
I though impossible but there is always a first time.
Suddenly i remember STOP, BREATH
THINK AND ACT
and with a little help of my friend Simon that pick the spool
and put it in my hand i could finish it.
When we get out the cave we noticed that our first tide was near a fire
coral, UPS thanks god we did not get burned, but all is included in the fun and
learning, one of the things I learned is my lamp was not so good to handle so
always get a lamp that is easy to use to go for cave diving.
The next entrance to the cave was throwing the line again and passing by
some restrictions taking care of our buoyancy, other of the exercises was to
remove sand from the bottom and get out of the cave following the line without
losing your diving buddy, thing we did without a problem.
The third entrance to the cave was again the line, but when we arrived
to the first restriction the instructor got in charge of the line and finally
we could enjoy a little ride in the turtle tomb , which leave us breathless and
contrary what a lot of people could think that death is sullen, cold and empty,
there in that darkness I simply could feel the peace of that turtle rests
(skeletons) that had left this world and perceive their ghost floating in this
dark dwell ( I mean like house)
To get out from the cave we have to practice an emergency exit with no
visibility sharing our air, I must say that we got out with some cuts and hit
with some rocks but proud to have finished the course.
In the night the big celebration with tequila with my diving buddies and
the instructors, that was a real party! And we deserve that we have made it!,
special thanks Jerry of Sipadan Scuba
for his dedication and his patience, and to my friend and buddy Simon
with who I have shared the sea in many chances and have helped me to make my
dreams come true.
And as everything has a reward, ours was diving freely with our new
certification card in the turtle tomb with our friend and guide John Esquerna
(Malaysia) the next day.
The entrance to the cave is 20 meters below the surface in the
impressive reef the drop off which maximum deep goes up to 600 meters and there
in the abyss is the entrance to the turtle tomb.
In the entrance to the cave there is always a shoal of jacks, the silver
of their body makes a contrast with the darkness of the cave, there are some
signs of danger for warning the divers that they should go in to the cave, in
fact there have been some fatal accidents of divers lost in the cave.
The ample entrance is a vault where we can see some corals in the walls
and the bottom is limestone and sandy, is a ample space where as we are getting
inside the light starts to lose in the darkness and just when we turn out the
lamps we could barely see the glitter of the exit, is the cavern zone.
After this there is a minor restriction to go to the other side of the
cave, finally the turtle tomb!, this is a big circular vault in complete
darkness, where in the silence and peace of this place we started our
exploration of these amazing place.
As you are going in the cave, there in the cool-headed black just by the
light of our lamps, one by one the skulls and turtle skeletons started to
appear, but it is that they have decided to die here?
This sounds really romantic but in the back of the cave we founded the
possible answer to this mystery, there is a little window that goes to the sea,
so tiny that just a really slim diver could get through it but is perfectly
possible for a turtle.
And if we considered that the turtles use to sleep on the coral reef of
the drop off, we can conclude that some of them have adventured inside the cave
and in certain moment that have lost their way out and had died of asphyxiation,
completely different form our romantic history isn’t it?
Nevertheless the vision of the glitter of their skeletons in the middle
of the dark transported us to an ethereal world in which we could dive between
the ghosts of the past that wandered looking for his liberation and just like
that, my own ghosts where disappearing one by one just to take step to this
wonderful vision, too peaceful, in the end the dead is a beautiful thing, is
the last freedom and the final peace that in certain way we can compare with
the deep blue of the ocean.
We could also see the remains of a marlín that they said was planted by
a diver, we entered in to another little vault where we see a dolphin skeleton
and another turtle.
In our way back in the middle of the deep black of the cave, emerged the
deep blue of the sea, I have never ever seen it so blue, so strong, so vibrant,
so full of life and when we got out of the turtles heavens we were joined
spiritually by the vision we shared, we came back to our own heaven the
infinite space of the deep blue sea, my own paradise!