Visibility is often limited and there are usually no colourful corals to be seen.
However, many small, bizzare-looking and vivid marine species thrive in these environments; muck diving lets you get up close and personal with these rare aquatic lifeforms, most of which cannot be found elsewhere.
Here in Mabul, one can expect to encounter creatures such as the pygmy seahorse, anglerfish, blue-ringed octopus, nudibranchs and more.
Who goes muck diving
Muck diving is a favourite activity amongst beginner and advanced scuba divers, in particular those with a keen interest in underwater macro photography.
Those who enjoy clear blue water, coral gardens and large marine animal sightings are unlikely to enjoy this type of diving. Most of the subjects are small, with many of them being best viewed using a macro lens or even a magnifying glass.
Muck divers are generally expected to have good buoyancy control, as most of the time will be spent scouring the bottom of the ocean.
Where to go muck diving
There are countless muck diving sites here in the Coral Triangle, the world’s most diverse marine environment according to WWF.
The tropical climate and calm shallows add to the popularity of the region for this type of activity.
When to go muck diving
With hot, sunny days and warm, balmy nights all year long, muck dives in Mabul may be carried out throughout the year.
The dives generally take place in shallow and warm waters, so one can spend hours underwater searching amongst the rubble for your next surprise.
Most muck divers equip themselves with stainless steel muck sticks, around 14 inches in length, to help them avoid contact with the bottom. Most of these muck sticks come with a clip or lanyard so they may be attached to one’s buoyancy control device.
The stick is gently introduced into the sand, and is used to hold oneself in place or as a monopod of sorts for a camera or even for banging on one’s tank to get the attention of another diver.
Used properly, the stick is the only thing to contact the bottom on a muck dive – the diver and his or her camera are well clear of the bottom, with fins up as well.
Nitrox and muck diving are a good combination. Typically, muck dive sites are flat or slope gradually, and depths usually range from 6 to 20+ meters. Nitrox allows for really generous bottom times in these conditions.