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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Exploring the Marine Life of Malaysia

The seas of Malaysia are among the most species rich on earth. Highlights include manta rays, whale sharks, dugongs, barracuda, lion fish, giant moray eels, sea turtles and sea snakes. The most popular diving sites include Pulau Sipadan, Pulau Mabul, Mataking, Kapalai, Layang-Layang, Labaun, Pulau Payar marine park near Langkawi. This includes shallow water reefs, wall dives, wreck dives and night dives. And all these places offer great opportunities to see the marine life up close. Here are the six exotic species of marine life that you might encounter while diving in Malaysia.

Diving in Malaysia
1) Hawksbill Turtle
The hawksbill turtle is a critically endangered sea turtle that spends most of its time in shallow lagoons and coral reefs where it feeds on sea sponges that grow quite a bit here. It can be easily distinguished from other sea turtles by its sharp, curving beak with prominent saw-like appearance of its shell margins.

2) Manta Ray
These are the largest rays in the world and can be broadly categorized into two sub-species, namely Reef Manta ray and Giant Oceanic Manta ray. These graceful gliders that sport massive proportions are gentle and pose little threat to divers.

3) Dugong
Locally known as the ‘lady of the sea’ and also known by other names such as the sea cow, sea camel and sea pig, the Dugong is the only strictly marine herbivorous mammal. The IUCN lists this species as vulnerable to extinction and hence it is quite a highlight if you see this sea grass eating marine mammal.

4) Hammerhead Shark
Fearsome looking hammerhead sharks often swim the waters near Layang Layang island, a deep sea atoll about 300 kms northwest of Kota Kinabalu. The specialty of the hammerhead sharks is its 360 degree vision that it enjoys because of the location of their eyes. Some of the Hammerhead species can be aggressive towards humans.

5) Barracuda
This tiger of the sea is known for its large size and fearsome appearance. They are elongated fish with pike-like appearance and prominent sharp-edged fang-like teeth, much like piranhas.They are voracious and opportunistic predators that rarely causes harm to humans.

Note: Photos in this post have been used with written consent from Beehive Communications on behalf of Tourism Malaysia.

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