Mabul scuba diving offers rich rewards for patient divers, those who are willing to move slowly but surely in search in rare species hard to find at other dive destinations. At the sandy seabed which you can find at a depth of about 20 metres onwards, you'll spot loads of small lairs and tunnels. These are home to shy colourful gobies of various species, blue ribbon eels swaying around with gaping mouths and cleaning shrimp who might conduct a little dental work for you if you ask nicely.
As its name suggests, there are a large number of garden eels which rise out of the sandy seabed. From a distance they stand very tall swaying with the water and looking like a field of stalks. Within the small groups of coral, exploration will yield sightings of the rare lemon coloured moray, and frogfish in colours of blue, rose red and black.
As you work your way up, you'll come upon the reef at a depth of between 2 and 15 metres. Along with wrasse and damselfish, there is a very unusual creature, the gigantic mantis shrimp from the genus odontodactylus. This predatory crustacean literally jumps out of its lair (holes on the sandy seabed) to grab passing fish for dinner. The force that its front claws have on passing fish has been compared to a 22-calibre bullet. They are built to pierce tough marine exoskeletons and can cut through human flesh like a hot knife through butter so divers, be warned, don't provoke them, you won't like them when they're angry.
Eel Garden Reef Basics: Coral reef on sandy bed
Depth: 5 - 25m
Visibility: 10 - 20m
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 25 - 30°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: 1
Diving season: All year round
Distance: 1 km (5 minutes) from Mabul Island pier or 5 km (10 mins) from Kapalai
Access: Mabul dive resorts or Kapalai resorts
• Mabul Island travel information
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• Sabah - Borneo - Malay Peninsula
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