Saturday, November 10, 2012

Muck diving in Malaysia

Where to dive with hairy frogfish and pygmy seahorses?
It’s got to be the most unappealing sounding sport, but for many divers, muck diving is the holy grail of scuba. And if the name isn’t enough to put you off, the sell that follows might do: with limited visibility, shallow dive sites, no stunning corals and zero chance of seeing deep-sea wrecks or big pelagic fish, it’s a wonder that so many divers have been inspired to try out this painstaking discipline. But those who do, however, rarely look back…
Picture courtesy: Nicolas Voisin, Flickr
Paradise for photographers, muck diving allows them to capture some of the ocean’s rarest inhabitants, snapping intricate and sophisticated species right up-close, in calm and controlled waters.
Picture courtesy: Nicolas Voisin, Flickr.
Instead of competing with your dive buddies to spot sharks and manta-rays, muck divers slowly and meticulously scan the seabed, searching for minute creatures, some less than a centimetre or so long, known as critters. 

A big attraction of muck diving is that anyone can do it. No special equipment is required and typically diving at shallower depths, the risk of decompression sickness is reduced.
Some of the best muck diving spots in the world are found in South East Asia. But one of the most illustrious muck diving sites of all is found in the waters just off Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo.
Picture courtesy: Nicolas Voisin, Flickr.
Mabul Island is a location synonymous with muck diving. Located off the north-east coast of Sabah, a 25 minute boat ride north of Sipadan Island, Mabul is a magnet for muck divers and one of the best places on the planet for macro photography. This tiny island has a coral reef that slips down to form a sandy bottom, freckled with coral growth and teeming with macro life and molluscs.  

An exciting dive site at Mabul is Eel garden, where colourful gobies and garden eels inhabit a network of tunnels in the sandy seabed. Blue ribbon eels, cleaning shrimp, rose-red frogfish and lemon-coloured moray eels are also commonly sighted here.
Muck diving in Malaysia doesn’t have to be all about Mabul though. If you fancy giving it a go but don’t want to make the trek down to Borneo, then Peninsula Malaysia still has some surprisingly good offerings, from the mimic octopus at Pulau Rumbia, on the west coast, to seahorse-filled sites in the north.
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website

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