Muck diving- the latest diving craze 07/12/2011

Muck diving- the latest diving craze

A Guide to Muck Diving

Muck diving is a relatively new concept to the scuba diving world. Taking its name literally from diving in muck, silt or dirt, this muddy sport’s popularity has been on the increase since its conception in the 1980s in Papua New Guinea. It might seem like a strange concept to traditionalist scuba divers- sifting around in poor visibility in a load of sludge; but muck diving provides divers with an opportunity to get up close and personal to all sorts of weird and wonderful small creatures that make their home in the muck.

Muck diving is not the same as micro diving, which essentially means to dive with small things. Muck diving is a branch of macro diving, but for it to be proper muck diving, there has to be the presence of dirt, debris, silt and muck! The muckiest of muck diving takes place in areas that many would consider to be pretty disgusting. Discarded litter often reveals itself to be housing little creatures, and decomposing tree trunks provide nutrients for the underwater life to feed on. The lack of visibility is not a problem for this strain of diving.

Muck diving is often carried out in areas of volcanic activity, where there is a black sand waterbed. The dark soil here is full of nutrients that nurture a diverse range of bizarre creatures for divers to encounter. The best conditions for muck diving would include a fresh water current, which is why this form of diving is often done where rivers meet the sea in volcanic countries.

Indonesia is the best place in the world to muck dive, particularly in the Lambeh Strait, Alor, Ambon and Sangeang Island. Secret Bay in Bali is also popular with die-hard muck divers. Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea is where the concept originated, and is still a great place to meet all sorts of little critters in the sludge. For muck divers in the Caribbean, St Vincent is the best place to dive, and Hawaii also offers some interesting dive sites. The exciting thing about muck diving is that there are still many dive sites that have yet to be discovered. Any volcanic region is worth exploring to see what animals you might find in the murky shallows.

Common creatures to see whilst muck diving include rhinopias, ghost pipefish, frogfish, octopi, seahorses, snake eels, stargazers, flounders, flying gurnards, nudibranchs and cuttlefish. Since divers can get so close to the underwater creatures, muck diving is a great way for underwater photographers to capture their subjects. This form of diving does not require much movement from the diver, so it is possible to find a good spot and sit back whilst the mysterious creatures in these habitats scuttle around you.

Muck diving has added a new dimension to the world of scuba diving, and has also allowed marine biologists to gain a better understanding of the micro marine ecosystems.

So why not get down and dirty in a quest for underwater discovery?