Normally rare diving scenes are frequently seen in the waters around Sipadan: schools of greenback turtles and hawksbill turtles nesting and mating, schools of barracuda & big-eye trevally in tornado-like formations, pelagic species such as manta rays, eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and whale sharks.
A mysterious turtle tomb lies underneath the column of the island, formed by an underwater limestone cave with a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that contain many skeletal remains of turtles that have become lost and drown before finding the surface.
In April 2000, 21 people were kidnapped by the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. The armed terrorists arrived by boat and forced 10 tourists and 11 resort workers at gun point to board the vessels and brought the victims to Mindanao. All victims were eventually released. In year 2004, the Government of Malaysia ordered all on-site dive and resort operators of Sipadan to move their structures out of the island by 31 December, 2004. This move is mainly to conserve a balanced eco-system for Sipadan and its surrounding. (Arguable, however, the private resort operators took far better care of the island than the Government has done). Diving will continue to be allowed in Sipadan for divers who are ferried in and out by dive and resort operators from the mainland and surrounding islands.
On May 15 2006, a barge carrying thousands of tonnes of building material beached on the island, destroying a significant portion of reef between the old pier and Barracuda Point, said to be about 372sq metres
The purpose of the building supplies (mainly concrete and gravel) was apparently for a USD1.3 million tourist facility including resthouse, toilets and scuba shop, said the State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat but denied by the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. Later, it was reported that it was a Federal Government funded project.