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Diving to see the turtles at Sipadan Island

At the lip of the plateau, on the reef wall where the hard corals are healthy here, a bright swatches of colour in contrast to the limestone plateau swept clean by the racing tides, as this is where the patterned disc turtle usually frolic. Get the close-up and personal look at the turtle’s wrinkled neck and hooded, dark eye.

The turtle likes to rest on its ledge and chomp on some soft coral. In the gentle current, the hawksbill turtle uses its beak-like mouth to munch.

Almost 1.5m long, not including a stumpy tail that curled under the rear edge of its carapace, the turtle are often spotted here.

You may see another species of turtle, a green sea turtle, a young specimen with an unmarked shell, its distinctively rounded edges as perfectly shaped as an Etruscan shield.

At Sipadan, you may see up to 12 sea turtles resting on the reef, gliding through the water as they became sublime. A tiny movement of a flipper would trim their flight as they swam, and silhouetted against the pale surface of the ocean they became perfect flying discs.

Meeting turtles underwater is not exciting in the same way that seeing a shark or a manta ray might be. But many divers say that seeing turtles makes them feel like crying. Even in the young animal, the skin around the neck appears cracked and worn and, improbably, the turtle’s eyes appear moist even underwater.

Peering at the world like an old man struggling to focus, the turtle somehow conveys a sense of calm. To swim at a respectful distance from a turtle, matching their pace without inspiring fear, is to fall in love, charmed by ancient eyes.

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