Du­maguete

Asian Diver (English) - - Feature - BRANDI MUELLER is orig­i­nally from the U.S. but cur­rently lives in Mi­crone­sia. A diver since 15, Brandi has been a scuba in­struc­tor for over 10 years as well as a boat cap­tain. From the near freez­ing wa­ters of Ice­land to un­known is­lands in the Pa­cific like

The muck div­ing be­gins the sec­ond you step in the wa­ter from At­lantis Re­sort. I have spent many dives at the house reef and the crit­ters can be seen from as shal­low as one me­tre. Lush sea­grass beds are found in the shal­lows just off the beach and they are a prime lo­ca­tion for baby frog­fish, bob­tail squid, shrimps and crabs ga­lore. Af­ter dark, this site turns into a com­pletely dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment with stargaz­ers, scor­pi­onfish, and sea moths com­ing out for the night dive.

Just a short boat ride away from the re­sort are many other muck dive sites. Some sites are very shal­low

(20 me­tres or less) and some are as deep as 30 me­tres. There is div­ing be­yond the muck too, in­clud­ing sev­eral wreck dives (mostly old fish­ing boats) that teem with life. For those look­ing for a break from the muck, At­lantis takes divers on a three-tank day trip to Apo Is­land for div­ing on healthy reefs.

Thanks to the lo­cal Sil­li­man Univer­sity, sev­eral dive sites have been cre­ated by sub­merg­ing ar­ti­fi­cial reefs that the re­searchers and stu­dents have in­stalled to at­tract ma­rine life.

And at­tract they do as the struc­tures (and in some places, old tyres) have so much co­ral and sponges grow­ing on them that they al­most con­ceal what the man-made ob­jects were prior to be­ing put in the ocean. The healthy man­made reefs have drawn in ma­rine life: You can see frog­fish perched on tyres, ju­ve­nile sweet­lips danc­ing in them, and fish swim­ming ev­ery­where around

The healthy man-made reefs have drawn in ma­rine life: You can see frog­fish perched on tyres, ju­ve­nile

sweet­lips danc­ing in them, and fish swim­ming ev­ery­where

around them

them. Dauin also has sev­eral ma­rine sanc­tu­ar­ies that pro­hibit fish­ing and boat­ing, but al­low div­ing.

Hav­ing vis­ited At­lantis Dive Re­sorts in Du­maguete sev­eral times, I keep go­ing back for their ea­gle-eyed dive guides that can spot a nudi­branch from 15 me­tres away and find won­der­puses mat­ing like it hap­pens all the time. Stick­ing with your guide is al­ways the best way to see the most, as dive guides in a lo­cal area have hun­dreds of dives with these tiny an­i­mals. They of­ten know where cer­tain things live, how to find them and their unique be­hav­iours. My other favourite thing about Du­maguete is that it is not quite as crowded as some of the other fa­mous muck div­ing lo­ca­tions.

Muck div­ing has a few rules, namely hav­ing good buoy­ancy and slow­ing down your dive. A diver with a heavy fin di­rected straight onto the sand will stir up the bot­tom, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to see, adding backscat­ter to pho­tos, and pos­si­bly send­ing an un­sus­pect­ing sea­horse for a ride. Also, the slower you go, the more you will find.

We say that one per­son’s trash is an­other per­son’s trea­sure, and while some peo­ple don’t en­joy muck div­ing, there are those of us who can’t get enough of it. If you’re smit­ten with the muck, make sure Du­maguete is on your list.

OP­PO­SITE PAGE TOP: Car­di­nal­fish with eggs, OP­PO­SITE PAGE BOT­TOM: Baby cut­tle­fish still in an egg TOP: For­mosa egg cowrie with eggsABOVE: Bob­tail squid with eggsIM­AGES: Brandi Mueller

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