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
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