We are in Lembeh Strait, the world´s capital of muck diving!
However, what is muck diving ? Many times my guests and students ask me about it, and it is time to clarify this term.
According to Collins dictionary (US) the word “muck” refers to:
- moist manure
- black earth containing decaying matter, used as a fertilizer
- mire; mud
- anything unclean or degrading; dirt; filth
I would define it as scuba diving activities conducted on a soft bottom made of sand (frequently black volcanic sand), stilt, mud, rubble with also sometimes some patchy corals, usually featuring some decomposing wooden logs and vegetation, but also other man made debris offering shelters for many marine species
Although this term has been originally used by Bob Halstead in the 80´s in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, it is in the 90´s in Lembeh Strait that muck diving earned its stripes. Today muck diving can also be done in some other places of the world in Indonesia, Philippines or Papua New Guinea, but there is not really one that can match the richness and biodiversity found in Lembeh.
A confusion is generally made between muck diving and macro diving. The macro diving is scuba diving where the macro lens would be necessary to take pictures of the small animals living underwater. Although muck diving is generally macro diving, you can also do macro diving on a coral reef, looking for small creatures like shrimps or nudibranchs.
The main interest of muck diving is to spot creatures rarely seen in other places, as they had to adapt to survive in such an environment. For instance, here in Lembeh, we can observe on a very regular basis, animals like frogfish, ghost pipefish, nudibranchs, stargazers, Ambon scorpionfish, dragonnets, flying gunnards, seahorses, sea moths, pipefish and pipehorses, but also plenty of cephalopods, like mimic octopus, wonderpus, coconut and mototi octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, bobtail squids, etc. Dives in Lembeh are never boring and offer idyllic conditions for all divers, and particularly for macro underwater photographers.
Due to the composition of the substrate and the size of the animal seen in that environment, good buoyancy skills are required and an adapted kicking style (like gentle frog kick) will prevent to alter the visibility with the sediments from the bottom. In order to improve your buoyancy skills, the resident diving instructors in Two Fish Lembeh would me more than happy to offer you a PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course in order to enjoy fully the beautiful muck dives here with our very experienced dive guides who all have amazing spotting skills.
Dive manager, Two Fish Divers Lembeh