‘Blue hole’ find: Sabah Parks credits diver
Published on: Saturday, March 16, 2019
By: Neil Chan

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Parks on Friday credited Glen Hapirulla for his discovery of Malaysia’s only “blue holes”, a unique marine sinkhole off Lahad Datu.

The move to set the record straight came after a controversy occurred over which party was the one who actually discovered the attraction.  

“We wanted to correct any misconception that we are taking the credit from Glen, who has been diving there for nine years and brought people to the blue holes in the last two years. 

“We would like to congratulate him and apologise for any inconvenience. It was not our intention to take credit for his discovery,” said Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais at a news conference, here.

He explained that the expedition group comprising researchers from Sabah Parks, together with University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and Sabah Foundation, had actually invited Glen to accompany them but he was unable to join as he was away in Singapore at the time. 

Nais said Sabah Parks would now work closely with the local community there to gazette the area as a protected marine area, which could add to the State’s draw as a diving paradise.

Blue hole is a term to describe a large marine sinkhole or cavern, open from the surface that looks like a blue ring from an aerial view.

The blue hole in Lahad Datu, also known as “blue ring reef” to locals, is the only one in Malaysia.

There are two holes adjacent to each other, about 50 to 70 metres in diameter and between 15 to 20 metres in depth.

Although research has yet to identify any uniqueness in marine wildlife in the blue hole, Hapirulla said the holes are great for beginner divers due to the lack of currents in the hole.

The holes are some 20 minutes by speedboat from shore.

Nais said the area, relatively unknown compared to its Semporna counterparts, could be developed as a potential tourist hotspot and is also a prime candidate as a protected area.

“I first dove in Darvel Bay in 1990 and found the corals there damaged due to over-fishing and coral bleaching. 

“Thirty years later the conditions are still bad, but if we gazette it now, it can be rehabilitated for the future generation,” he said.

Hapirulla, who runs the Lahad Datu-based Pirate Divers, said he accepted the apology and was keen to move on and work with authorities to develop and improve the area for the community.

“I’ve been diving there for years but I first realised it was a blue hole when we flew a drone over the area. I posted it on Facebook but it did not garner a lot of attention until now,” he said.


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