Muck diving is especially popular among underwater macro photographers.
Lets you get up close and personal with some of the tiniest and weirdest marine lifeforms, most of which cannot be found elsewhere.
What is Muck Diving?
Muck diving is the term used to describe the murky or muddy surroundings at the bottom of dive sites, consisting mainly of sand, silt, sediment and dead corals.
Visibility is often limited and there are usually no colourful corals to be seen.
However, many small, weird-looking and vivid marine species thrive in these environments and one can expect to encounter exotic creatures such as the rare pygmy seahorse, bizarre anglerfish, blue-ringed octopus, colourful nudibranchs; the list is endless!
Who goes Muck Diving?
Muck diving is a form of macro diving and is a favourite activity amongst beginner and advanced scuba divers, in particular those with a keen interest in underwater 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?
The warm climate, abundance of marine life and calm, shallow waters surrounding the islands of Southeast Asia mean that you can go muck diving for hours. Due to this, it is one of the most popular regions in the world for this type of activity.
Volcanic areas also make great muck diving sites with Lembeh Strait, Ambon and Bali in Indonesia as well as Anilao in the Philippines being famous for having some of the rarest marine species on earth.
When to go Muck Diving?
The climate is fantastic for diving in Southeast Asia, 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 rubbish and rubble for your next surprise.
Most muck divers equip themselves with stainless steel muck sticks, at least 14 inches in length, in order to help them avoid contact with silt at 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, up off the bottom or 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 20 and 80 feet. Nitrox allows for really generous bottom times in these conditions.
One final consideration is health. Diving in dirty water has some perils – the most common of which is ear infection. It is good practice to rinse the ears thoroughly after each dive with fresh, clean water, and thoroughly dry them.
Eardrops help to dry out and restore the chemical balance to the ear canal. Some divers also carry prescription antibiotic eardrops in the rare event an ear infection develops during or after a diving session.