Tag Archives: SCUBA diving

The best posts about SCUBA Diving and underwater photography will be included in this section.

Whale Shark Snorkeling!

Swimming with Whale Sharks!

Imagine snorkeling with massive Whale Sharks!  They’re the largest fish in the sea, and they migrate right through The Philippines annually. It provided a perfect opportunity to not only see whale sharks up close, but get in the water and actually swim and snorkel with them. Wow. It was certainly one of the highlights of my trip!

whale sharks in the Philippines
impressive whale shark photo by Joe Newman

Whale Shark closeup in Donsol, in The Philippines How big are Whale Sharks?  Huge. The first one we saw while snorkeling was about 20 feet long; they can grow to the size of a school bus!  Average size is more than 30-feet and 20,000 pounds. They can grow much larger; a whale shark caught near Taiwan in 1994 was 79,000 pounds, and that’s not even the largest ever! (catching whale sharks is now banned)

Is a Whale Shark a Whale or a Shark?  It’s a Shark. It’s a whale-sized shark.  Rhincodon typus – the largest fish species still around (I just learned the term is “extant” – the opposite of extinct)

Slideshow: Borneo Diving in Sipadan – Semporna Archipelago

Underwater photos from my SCUBA diving experience in amazing Sipadan, within the Semporna Archipelago (in Borneo / Malaysia), the best diving I’ve ever done. I’ve posted assorted images from my first time using the underwater camera when diving. Photos from my Borneo diving adventure in the Semporna Archipelago are below (Press SL for Slideshow, FS for Full Screen):

Borneo diving

Sea Turtle
Sea Turtle
Whitetip Reef Shark
Whitetip Reef Shark
1st underwater photo of me SCUBA diving
1st underwater photo of me SCUBA diving
Sea Turtle
Sea Turtle
school of Jackfish
school of Jackfish
Tabletop Coral
Tabletop Coral
shark! Whitetip Reef Shark
shark! Whitetip Reef Shark
Harlequin Sweetlips
Harlequin Sweetlips

Sipadan Borneo diving – best in the world? Loved Semporna Archipelago!

Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago was the best SCUBA diving I’ve ever done; it’s often rated by many as one of the top dive destinations in the world. The whole Semporna Archipelago was amazing!

Jacques Cousteau referred to Sipadan in the Semporna Archipelago as ‘an untouched piece of art’ – the crown jewel of the diving is Sipadan. Lucky for you, I rented an underwater camera to capture some of the experience, including lots of sharks! Here’s some of my underwater photos from Sipadan.

I was still learning how to dive (buoyancy, breathing, equalizing, etc) when I added underwater photography to the mix, so there’s much improvement to be made in future dives, but this should give you a feel for the experience.

To get there from KL I flew to Tawau, on Malaysian Borneo. Then I took a road trip to a sleepy fishing town called Semporna, and the next morning I took a boat out to Mabul, my home base foor SCUBA diving on the Semporna Archipelago. Some areas in Borneo take quite a bit of time effort to get to, but this was worth it.

SCUBA surprise – is that a shark??

Imagine looking in a cave-like crevice and realizing for the first time, you’re face-to-face with a Whitetip Shark!  When you’re a beginner SCUBA Diver, you have plenty of things to worry about – equalizing, breathing, buoyancy… but sharks??

It was my last dive of the day after getting Open Water Certified – while I cognitively understand the basic essentials of SCUBA Diving, I’m still very much a beginner. I needed to get better at everything – breathing, equalizing, buoyancy, but it’ll get better with experience.  I was really nervous and that might have overwhelmed my excitement.

Each time you dive you follow a “Dive Master,” regardless of your experience level. This is someone that knows a lot more than me and the dive site really well. Beyond looking out for your safety, they act as your guide, and point out things that you should notice. Especially in my first few dives, I barely noticed anything, hyper-focused on breathing properly and equalizing.

Diving at the USAT Liberty shipwreck, Tulamben, Bali

We went SCUBA diving in 2 sites in Bali — Tulamben and Nusadua, both right off the beach. The second dive at Tulamben featured a shipwreck. The USAT Liberty (often referred to as the USS Liberty but it’s actually USAT – US Army Transport) was heading across the Lombok Strait in 1942, working as a cargo ship during World War II, when it was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. They tried to toe it but it didn’t make it. For years it was beached in Tulamben, grounded in the shallow part of Tulamben bay for more than twenty years until Mount Agung erupted in 1963, pushing it off shore. The subsequent earthquakes caused the ship to roll out into deeper water and broke its bow and stern.

I saw nearly everything in this youtube video:

Video clip of the USAT Liberty shipwreck, Tulamben, Bali


We also saw Scorpion Fish, Unicornfish, lots of Angelfish, 1 Sea Turtle, Jacks, and:


We also saw 1 other surprise guest… I was surprised to end up eye-to-eye with a white tipped reef shark! The story of my first surprise shark experience is told here.

SCUBA Diving — PADI Open Water Certified

Mother Nature did not cooperate for my trip to Bali, Indonesia, and after attempting to spend the day at a beach with overcast, I decided it might be better to use the time in Bali productively. When you’re under water, a little drizzle really doesn’t matter.

After 3 days of classes, I’m now PADI certified for open water dives!   Most courses have you stuck in a classroom all day, but my instructor just took the classroom experience on the road, with 1on1 instruction on a 2-hour car ride and then at the beach. After knowledge development, we moved on to confined water dives, and then finally open water dives.
Why and what is means: Getting PADI certified will make going SCUBA diving quicker (no mandatory beginner course each time), sometimes cheaper, and give me the ability to go to depths you can’t w/o it. Some of the best sites in the world are only visible from deep in the water, so without it you’d never see them.

While Belize has some of the best diving in the world at the “Blue Hole,”  Johnie and I weren’t PADI certified and thus couldn’t see it. You can see great photos of it on this site: