Its all in the knack

Northern Borneo is mostly known for the magnificent walls and schooling pelagics off

Sipadan Island. Following hot on her heels, is neighbouring muck heaven Mabul. Nearby Kapalai is just a sand spit of an island, but one thatis gaining itis own reputation for rare and unusual marine treats.

We leapt into the water from their dive jetty, and our divemaster led us just a few metres downwards, then signalled for us to stop. We could just make out the crewis shadowy feet cooling in the water above our heads. Our eyes adjusted as we sat patiently waiting for the light to fall to precisely the right level. Once it did, more than a dozen mandarins emerged from their lairs and started their evening courtship ritual. The tiny fish were dashing around, greeting their friends and pecking at the tiny crustaceans they feed on.

When he judged the time was right, divemaster Dodong turned on his Q40 torch but wrapped his hand tightly over the lens. Only a tiny bit of light leaked between his fingers as he followed the vague movements.

We'd glimpse two little shadows approaching each other, a larger male and a smaller female. Sometimes, she would back away but if she

All photos taken with a Nikon F90X, Sea & Sea housing, 60mm macro and 105 macro lenses. Fuji Provia to improve F stop. F16, aperture priority. Twin Ikelite 50 strobes.

fancied her suitor, the pair would rise upwards through the water until they were about 18 inches or more above the reef. Dodong would quickly spread his fingers and flash the torch beam onto them.

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