With the sun beaming directly over your head, or slightly to the West of you, Staghorn Crest is usually a dive reserved for the afternoon. As we made our entry at this site, we observed it is much like the rest of the island. The top reef is simply beautiful and teeming with life. So beautiful, it’s hard to leave as you make your descent. The topography at Staghorn Crest is a bit different from most of the island as there is a slope that offers views of many beautiful soft corals. On the slope we noticed many white tip reef sharks resting before their next hunt. Hovering out over the depths we observed even more resting white tips at depths far out of reach for recreational dive limits where you can quickly find yourself at 30+ meters.
As we dropped down to our cruising depth of 23 meters, an eagle ray gracefully passed by about 10 meters below us and wowed us with its beauty as it effortlessly swam against the current to greet other groups of lucky divers. Swinging our heads directly above us, 3 giant barracuda were methodically circling hoping to grab an easy meal. We kept on floating along the wall and were delighted with the scene of multiple turtles swimming above and below us looking for a great perch on the reef.
Along this wall, we begin to progressively see more soft corals. The West side of the wall at Sipadan reminds us of our trip to Taveuni, Fiji 3 years ago where we spent a week in the Somosomo Strait diving amidst colorful soft corals on the Rainbow Reef. Carnation corals in varying colors create a colorful painters palate backdrop for an army of blue fusiliers screaming past us into the depths, while a docile maori wrasse remains unfazed by this frenzy of activity.
Continuing our dive up to 15 meters, we close in on a cleaning station and see a few grey reef sharks gently floating in the current with small reef fish picking off their parasites. Sharks aren’t the only big creatures you can find at the cleaning station, at times Tim has referred to the cleaning station at Staghorn Crest as a turtle timeshare with one turtle leaving and another coming in to take its place.
One could seriously contest that the top reef at the end of the dive at Staghorn Crest boasts the most beautiful scenery on the island. It is truly explosive with color as you look as far as you can see over massive Staghorn Coral with thousands of tiny reef fish darting in and out of it. Swimming along the top of the reef there are many turtles to see with other large reef fish and on one dive, a rare treat of a leopard shark with its massive tail pushing it through the water. As gracefully as the leopard shark appeared, it swam away silently disappeared into the depths.
Like other dive sites at Sipadan, Staghorn Crest has the potential to develop a sudden current along the wall. Prudent diving should always be exercised as you stay close to your buddy and be aware of the divemasters signals to possibly switch directions. Staghorn Crest is definitely a site to put on the short list of dives at Sipadan.