Sabah's Bum-Bum Island to draw in new wave of tourists keen on muck dive sites

KOTA KINABALU - From tiny colourful sea slugs to spider-like marine creatures, Semporna's Bum-Bum Island could be Sabah's newest dive tourism site following the discovery of what are called muck dive sites.

Muck dive sites are murky seabeds that house tiny and strange-looking marine creatures photographers and videographers love to take pictures and footage of.

This discovery was made during a five-day Macro Dive Site Mapping Voluntourism Programme organised by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry's (Motac) Sabah office recently.

Sabah Motac director Ahmad Zaki said during the programme, a total of 14 dive sites were explored and eight were marked as having huge potential for macro diving.

A Hairy Shrimp.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

He said other than muddy sediment, the dive site may consist of dead corals, house or fish farm wrecks and other man-made items that are trapped underwater.

A Spider Crab.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

"Within these underestimated mucky waters lies a high density of minuscule marine life that are tiny and strange," Ahmad said.

Some of the unique and endemic species recorded were skeleton shrimp, hairy shrimp, tiger shrimp, decorator crab, orangutan crab and a few species of small cuttlefish.

They include the flamboyant, popcorn, bobtail and papuan and pygmy cuttlefish.

There are also various types of nudibranch (seaslugs) such as melibe and Thecacera Pacifica or famously known as 'Pickachu'.

Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

Ahmad said these underwater creatures attract underwater photographers and videographers who use 'macro' lens to magnify the subject.

He said having a dedicated macro dive site can place Pulau Bum-Bum on the map as a must-dive spot for divers from all over the world, complementing other established dive sites in Semporna namely Sipadan-Mabul-Kapalai.

This programme held with the aim of setting up the first dedicated macro dive site for Malaysia in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020 saw 10 volunteers from the Semporna Tourism Association and Semporna Professional Divers Association participating.