What is Muck (Critter) Diving

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Muck. Yuck. Right? Wrong! 

If you have never heard of muck diving before, it does sound completely unappealing and actually the reality of what you are doing is essentially as it sounds. Muck diving, critter diving, rubble diving – whatever you call it, is poorly named and gives a negative connotation for an environment where ones’ eyes widen again and again with each fascinating new critter.

Spiny Devilfish Photo by Mark Steere
Spiny Devilfish Photo by Mark Steere
Flamboyant cuttlefish Photo by Scubamama
Flamboyant cuttlefish Photo by Scubamama

Muck might sound like not the most pleasant type of diving, but for underwater photographers this environment characterized by a seemingly barren silty, sand bottom can yield some of the best macro opportunities.  The term comes from the type of environment, which is usually a silty or sandy bottom, sometimes with a source of fresh water and some mild currents.

Bobtail Squid Photo by Michel Labrecque
Bobtail Squid Photo by Michel Labrecque
Red and Black Frogfish Photo by Scubamama
Red and Black Frogfish Photo by Scubamama

Volcanic areas are great for muck diving, as are areas with a lot of vegetation, such as sea grass, and surprisingly, places with a lot of rubbish. It’s here that the cool critters make their homes. There are no colorful corals or fish present and visibility can be quite poor.

DON’T Let The Critter / Muck Environment description scare you off.

Melibe colemani - Lembeh Strait Indonesia Photo by Scubamama
Melibe colemani - Lembeh Strait Indonesia Photo by Scubamama
Nudibranch - Stiliger  Photo by Pipat Kosumlaksamee
Nudibranch - Stiliger Photo by Pipat Kosumlaksamee

The PAYOFF is well worth it!  You will discover all sorts of weird, unique and wonderful creatures. The bizarre and unusual things you may find are rare and interesting. You can find interesting nudibranchs, frogfish, cuttlefish – (the most amazing being the flamboyant cuttlefish), seahorses, snake eels, sea moths, star gazers, octopus – (including the rare and wonderful blue ringed octopus and mimic octopus), scorpion fish, flying gurnards, and the list goes on and on!

Rhinopias Photo by Doris Vierkoetter - alumBatu Dive Resort, Bali
Rhinopias Photo by Doris Vierkoetter - alumBatu Dive Resort, Bali
Harlequin Shrimp Photo by Scubamama
Harlequin Shrimp Photo by Scubamama

The Fascinating varieties of marine life are found in a number of underwater habitats, from the pilings of old piers and the superstructure of sunken wrecks to the myriad of tiny crevices in reefs and shallow flats off beaches. When divers go on the hunt for these creatures, what they often find looks like a scene from inside Chalmun’s Cantina, the fictional bar in Star Wars that is populated by a variety of funky-looking alien species. I call this diving “Easter Egg Hunt diving” because every time you turn around, there is something new, exciting and . . . you almost just put your hand on it!

And the best thing about muck? It’s found almost anywhere in the world!

From the muck capital of Lembeh Strait to the boat channel in your backyard there’s macro gems to be found everywhere.

Ambon Scorpionfish Photo by Scubamama
Ambon Scorpionfish Photo by Scubamama
Thin Ghost Pipefish Photo by Bill Sarro
Thin Ghost Pipefish Photo by Bill Sarro

8 GREAT MUCK / CRITTER DIVE DESTINATIONS

  1. Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea – the original muck diving spot!
  2. Lembeh Strait, Indonesia – muck diving capital of the world.
  3. Mabul, Borneo, Malysia – an area most famous for the turtles of Sipadan, the adjacent island of Mabul offers excellent muck diving.
  4.  Ambon, Indonesia – where the psychedelic frogfish was first discovered!
  5. Anilao, Philippines – It is rapidly gaining the reputation as one of the globe’s most Bio-diverse marine life destination.
  6. Romblon, Philippines – Perfect dive destination for fans of rare macro and super macro critters.
  7. North East Bali , Indonesia Very few people know that Bali has fantastic diving to offer in the North East of Bali, especially for critter lovers.
  8. St. Vincent, Caribbean  This is the place for critters in the Caribbean

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Scuba Diving Resource makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. Please note that regulations and information can change at any time.

March 3, 2017 |

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