All Macro. All the Time.
My First Muck Dive
We were first introduced to the concept of muck diving way back in 1996 during a trip to remote Papua New Guinea. It didn’t sound very appealing to me, I’ll admit. I had a vision of low vis and well….muck… slimy, ooey-gooey, harbor sludge. What fun was that and what kind of stuff lived there?
It was explained to me that muck diving was actually diving in dark, rich volcanic sand and I was told that some pretty zany critters lived in that environment. I was game to give it a go. We took the small zodiac from the mother ship we were traveling on and headed for an overgrown shoreline with dark gray, almost black sand, the remnants of the long ago outpouring of a volcano. We stopped about 10 feet from shore to my bewilderment and it was announced that we were at the dive site. Hmmmmmm.
We spent the next hour and a half in just 20 feet of water, carefully scanning the sand inch by inch for new gifts from the sea. That first muck dive proved to me that it was, in fact, an incredible habitat full of creepy crawly, bizarro critters that even James Cameron on hallucinogens couldn’t dream up
We did a number of muck dives on that trip and I came home with an appreciation of yet another wild and wooly habitat of mother ocean.
Muck Diving VS Yuck Diving~You Need To Know The Difference
As muck diving became more popular throughout the diving community, something else popped on the radar, something I called “yuck diving”. Dive resorts were picking up on this new term and decided that any place with sand, rubble and dead coral they would term “muck diving”. What a great way to promote your crappy dive sites! Come on over to XYZ dive location with our fabulous “muck” diving. Oops, I meant yuck diving! I have since been on many a “yuck” dives marketed as “muck” dives, complete with well….nothing. The only weird critters on these dives were the gullible, paying guests searching the rubble and sand frantically for something other than Pringles cans and other trash run off from the local islands. If it’s not true black, rich, volcanic sand you won’t find the plethora of cool critters buried there.
Yes, my friends, true muck diving is something really, really special and a far cry from yuck.
Muck Diving in the Philippines
The Lembeh Straits in North Sulawesi, Indonesia have long been regarded as the premier destination for muck diving in the world and it deserves its title. But look out Lembeh because here on Negro Island in the Philippines, the list of muck critters is long and distinguished!
We arrived here in the town of Dauin about an hour plane flight south of Manila to see if the growing buzz was true. At the base of a beautiful, lush, shield volcano, the dark, molted sand beaches looked like a perfect coastline to host freakish critters with names like ghost pipefish, devil scorpionfish and even wonderpus. We would soon find out.
On our first foray into the coastal diving we found the exact environment we were looking for. We looked at each other, gave the double “okay” sign and plunged in. We were immediately rewarded with the wackiest critters on the planet. If you are not a diver and even if you are, you are most likely not at all familiar with the list of characters in this wonderland.
The best way to describe them is to show you. Check out some of most outlandish critters in the sea! And here’s the kicker. All of these creatures can be found in less than 20 feet of water within spitting distance of the shore. How cool is that???
Add to the fabulous muck diving the warmest friendliest people on the planet here in the Philippines and you have a combo that can’t be beat!
Have you been muck diving? What’s the most bizarre critter you’ve seen?