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Found 13 results

  1. Just got back from a 10-day trip to Mike's Dauin Beach Resort in Dumaguete, Philippines. My brother and I went for the muck diving, as well as a day excursion to the marine sanctuary around Apo Island, about an hour's boat ride from the resort. In short, the muck diving is fantastic, and the reefs around Apo Island are spectacular - easily rivaling Sipadan's wall. Even though it wasn't octopus season, which is in February, we nevertheless met numerous species on every dive. All the coastal Dauin dives are no more than 3 to 5 minutes away, so you suit up the minute you get on board because by the time you're done, you're at your dive site. Apo Island is worth the extra cost: that reef is on steroids. So much life, and everything is huge! My gallery is at https://www.scubagirl.ca/dumaguete-philippines The diving is mostly boat-based. The dive team handles all your gear for you. All you need to do is make the 30-second walk from your room or dining area to the boat, which is tied up right off the beach. As with elsewhere in the Philippines, the dive boats are all bancas, which are custom-built boats with outriggers. These boats are super stable. Mike's fleet of two are large enough to spaciously accommodate 10 or more divers. From North America, get yourself to Manila, connect with a domestic flight to Dumaguete, less than 90 min from Manila. Beware that flights to and from Dumaguete tend to be delayed. On our trip, we experienced a 3 hour delay, causing us to miss our connecting flight from Manila to Singapore. If you go, plan for the delay! The resort is owned by Mike Feeney, who is based in Florida, I believe. The resort itself is well managed by Corrie, a British transplant, and supported by her partner and fellow Brit Jonathan, who manages the PADI training for guests who need it. The dive guides are TOP NOTCH! The kitchen is not particularly well set up, so service is slow, but the food is good - good enough that villagers and guests from other resorts will often go there to eat. The kitchen staff know they're slow, so they compensate for that by asking you for your order before you go diving. 10/10 would go again!
  2. If you have not yet dived (dove?) at Komodo, you should really give it a shot; flying to Bali is quite cheap from many places now, then another quick flight to Labuan Bajo. The best months are April through August, once November hits the currents change, and can be so strong that visibility is quite limited. The north of the park tends to have the best sealife, which is generally avoided from November through February when dive shops go south. Go see the mantas, check off that bucket list item.
  3. One of the best regarded divesites in Sydney is Shiprock. The site is on Port Hacking to the south of Sydney and the entrance is in suburbia, surrounded by expensive waterfront homes, it has an amazing array of life and being an aquatic reserve fish are plentiful. This is a shore dive and there are steep steps down a cliff face to reach the entry point and the site features a wall running from about 7 to 15m deep. It is subject to strong tidal currents and needs to be dived on a slack preferably high tide. Here is a google maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/Nq2mRe95rYu Had a really nice dive there last Friday and here's some pics, descriptions below the pic All taken with OM-D EM-1 MkII and Panasonic 30mm macro - Nauticam housing, INON Z-240 strobes: Pineapple fish are nocturnal and have a light producing organ that assists with their hunting. Shiprock is one of the few spots they are regularly found around Sydney dive sites. Sieve Patterned Moray, less common than the regularly seen Green Moray Ringscale Triple Fin, a small fish that claims sections of rock as territory, common at Shiprock but not so common elsewhere, Six Spine Leatherjacket, quite common of many dive sites, but tend to be skittish, this one is about 300mm long so a bit of a challenge for a macro lens A Pygmy Leatherjacket another common fish around Sydney they seem to have their tail curled around semi permanently Eastern Frogfish, an ambush predator hiding under one of the many ledges at Shiprock Doroprismatica atromarginata, quite common around Sydney and the only Nudi I found this dive, At other times the variety of nudis is much greater. Blotched Hawkfish, Shiprock is the only Sydney dive site I see these regularly
  4. Here's some footage from winter diving in the Salish Sea. 3 minutes of cold, green water muck diving with beautiful marine life large and small. If you've never seen a pacific spiny lumpsucker, take a look. Comments and critiques welcome.
  5. My annual trip is over and took me back to the Red Sea. Normally I hunker down in one spot and keep on diving. This time we made it a three-destination trip, diving 3 days in Marsa Shagra, 5 days in Wadi Lahami and 5 days in Marsa Abu Dabbab. All transfers were after dinner so no dive opportunities were lost and the areas offered quite different types of diving, making for an interesting combination. The trip started off at Marsa Shagra where I had been twice before and which is quite well known among divers so I won't go into details. Just Google it for more info. It offers very relaxed and easy shore diving on a house reef with a good corals and fish diversity, making it a good spot to get into the diving routine. However, the main reason for a repeat visit was to find a very small fish that I discovered 4 years prior. Discussions with scientists suggested it is likely a new and unusual species of blenny or goby, but with just that one sighting it could also be an aberration. Interestingly, Alex Mustard made the second observation of this fish in March this year north of Hurghada suggesting that it is really a new species. On our third day I found the same fish again and in exactly the same spot. A systematic search of several similar dead limestone blocks uncovered about a dozen individuals. So they seem to be permanently present in that location and after reporting to the Red Sea fish expert Sergey Bogorodski he indicated an interest to work together to describe it as a new species. I'll let you know if that comes to fruition. Undescribed goby/blenny At Marsa Shagra we just made 11 house reef dives because we knew that Wadi Lahami would be all boat diving. They run a two-tank trip to the Fury Shoals in the morning (6:30am breakfast, 7:15am gear-up, ~8am 1st dive, ~10am 2nd dive, back just before noon). The ride in a RIB can be bumpy depending on wind and takes 20-30 minutes for most sites. Coral formations and fish live is different than the more protected house reef at Marsa Shagra including interesting landscapes such as stairways to heaven leading through a valley with large healthy corals and ending in a large underwater arch. Claudia had very interesting and complex system of tunnels running through the reef. We spend a full hour going from one tunnel to the next and, as far as I can tell, never using the same one twice. I found some uncommon dottybacks (golden and lyretail dottyback, the last one in an uncommon non-striped color form), and dwarf gobies (Trimma sp.). I would love to dive that site with just a buddy to explore it more fully and not have to follow along with the group. It is also the site where others in our group who didn't enter the tunnels saw a manta ray. The afternoon dive is around 2:30pm and here they drop you off at a site closer to the resort and without guide. The diving is really easy, just working your way around pinnacles or following a reef wall so it is hard to get lost. I personally enjoyed these dive just as much, if not more, than the Fury Shoal dives, because the sites were more fishy including the smaller reef fish that I am fond off. It is also where I found my first harlequin filefish as well as damselfish I had not seen before and many juveniles. But there were also big(ger) fish including Napoleon wrasse, dogtooth tuna and various trevally/jacks. The last dive of the day is another unguided drop-off at a site very close by. This is normally a night dive but since we were the only ones making the fourth dive we normally asked to go earlier so it became a dusk/night dive. For less experienced divers, diving unguided at night off-shore may be a bit disconcerting but you can always just follow the main reef wall and back if you are afraid to get lost. However, the outer wall and a sand plateau with corals are very interesting and with help of a compass you can always find your way back to the main reef wall. Interesting finds were a free swimming marbled torpedo ray, large pilot trevally, blotched porcupinefish, the very secretive sharpnose wrasse (Wetmorella nigropinnata) and the uncommon purple-yellow color form of the smoothfin blenny. The diving at Wadi Lahami was very easy but the boat ride, getting back into the boat, and walking to from the boat at low tide can be a bit cumbersome. The first 3 dives are all limited to 60 minutes and the night dive to 45 minutes. Lyretail dottyback in non-striped color form Meteor perch (Liopropoma susumi) Marbled torpedoray For the last stop we had picked Marsa Abu Dabbab because it has a large seagrass meadow and thus would harbour very different animals than on the reefs. The site is best known for the sightings of large green turtles, a dugong, guitar rays and large stingrays. We had been there on single-tank truck dives from Marsa Shagra in the past, however, this time we were interested in unguided muck-diving to find its better camouflaged and small critters. In addition it has reefs along its Northern and Southern edges for extra diversity. Unlike the secluded and hard-core dive operations of Marsa Shagra and Wadi Lahami, Marsa Abu Dabbab is a major tourist destination with a sandy beach, lots of activities and a large fancy resort (Malikia). Good if you travel with non-divers but we like it more low-key. We therefore stayed in Abu Dabbab Diving Lodge, not located on the beach but across a quiet road and a 500m walk from the dive shop (Blue Ocean). The accommodation was surprisingly good with private bathroom and air-conditioning, small swimming pool, and well-maintained nice-looking buildings. All for less than the tent or simple (very hot) hut at Marsa Shagra. We had a few power interruptions and service in the restaurant left something to be desired (it improved a lot when we mentioned it to the manager), but it was very good value. You can also eat a la carte at their beach restaurant, but our package did not include that. It would be worth trying to get at least the lunch at the beach included so you don't have to walk back to the hotel at the hottest point of the day. We loved the diving at Marsa Abu Dabbab. We used Blue Ocean diving, which is owned by the hotel. They are centrally located on the beach and we were very happy with their service. A disadvantage is that they are only open from 8am to 5:30pm because they mostly cater to day tourists from the resorts and people taking diving courses. At the last day we got them to give us our tanks and equipment at 6am for a perfect early dive without waves and great visibility. With an 8am start we only managed 3 dives a day but you can easily dive longer than 90 minutes per tank, with the longest just exceeding two hours. The shallow part of the North and South reef offer a protective environment like that of Marsa Shagra. The North reef has very healthy corals on a bit of a slope and is the most protected from the waves. The South reef is more of a wall starting at 1m and ending at the corner in about 15m depth. In addition to the normal reef fish you can find garden eels, yellow-spotted scorpionfish, an unusually large number of emperor fish, and many juveniles. As you reach the corner of the South reef you find a number of pinnacles in 15-20m depth that are worth exploring. The corner of the North reef has a more exposed feel to it and reaches depths below 30m. However, for us the main attraction was the seagrass meadow. The sandy beach slopes rather slowly from the shoreline to ~10m depth. The seagrass starts at about 1m but sea life is most interesting in the 4-10m depth range. After the 10m mark, the slope becomes steeper and in some points more silty with less or no seagrass and deep pits and "volcanos" probably produced by some large worm. Typical fish for the seagrass are wormfish, five-finger razorfish (and their cute juveniles), sand divers, young yellowspotted puffers, a fangblenny? that I have not yet identified, ornate, Merten's and ambonoro shrimpgobies (Vanderhorstia genus) sharing their burrows with a pair of shrimp, and sometimes spinecheek gobies, tailspot gobies, and something that looked like a small dartfish. When you slow down to muck-speed you also start finding ghost pipefish (translucent, brownish, and green; but probably all one species), tiny black and white pipefish, juvenile boxfish, lionfish, crocodilefish???, kasmir snapper, mottled cardinalfish, orange-dotted and orange-lined nudibranch, flatworms, mantis shrimp, box crabs, weird shrimp, head-shield slugs, snake eels, thornback boxfish, etc. Slowing down also means longer dives so three dives could add up to 5+ hours of bottom time. Translucent ghost pipefish Green ghost pipefish Juvenile crocodilefish? Pretty nudibranch (there was also with same colours but lines instead of dots) We had also been jokingly saying we would find a pygmy pipehorse and to our surprise we did, twice, once on each of the last two dives. One was absolute tiny and the other normally tiny. No need to say we were absolutely exhilarated. What a way to end the holidays. "big" pygmy pipehorse tiny pygmy pipehorse Finally, if you live in Europe the cost of diving the Red Sea is incredibly. The entire trip with all travel, transfers, food, accommodation, and 46 dives was less than 1500 Euros. I expect to be back next year so if you know any other Red Sea dive operations with unlimited, unguided, affordable house reef diving then let me know. I am particularly keen to check out the Gulf of Aqaba next time. Bart
  6. Join Us for Our 4th Annual "Capturing Critters in Lembeh" Digital Imaging Workshop December 5-12, 2015 Back together again for a limited engagement! Hergen Spalink, Kerri Bingham and Steve Fish, our previous dive center management team and photo pro return to their old stomping grounds in Lembeh Strait where they will join together with support from our In-House Photo Pro Sascha Janson and In-House Marine Biologist Dimpy Jacobs for our Capturing Critters in Lembeh 2015 workshop. This well-rounded team of experts will provide presentations, seminars & one-on-one instruction. With their intimate knowledge from 3 years diving Lembeh Strait and photographing it’s “weird and unusual” marine life they have the inside scoop on topics they’ll be discussing; including the best time to photograph a critter, lighting and capturing images in this unique environment plus finishing and editing strategies. During the workshop Steve will be focused on helping videographers enhance the quality of their work and improve their skills when taking their underwater videos. This is the perfect workshop for learning the pros’ techniques and skills to get the images and video footage you’ve always wanted to produce. Included in this unique 8 – Day Workshop: • Daily seminars by our professional presenters on a wide range of customized topics followed by practical in-water application. • “Office Hours” (one-on-one) time with the pros: maximize your learning curve during surface intervals and master the techniques presented or sort out your processing woes. • Unsurpassed dive guide attention and superlative resort service to compliment the entire event. • 7 nights & 17 guided boat dive • 3:1 diver to guide ratio • Unlimited guided house reef dives • Nitrox for all dives • Wide Angle day trip outside of Straits • Daily fruit basket & cookies in room • Complimentary 30 minute Spa treatment • 20% Discount on all Spa bookings • Complimentary Lembeh cocktail during Resort welcome US$2,550 per person in Deluxe Ocean view cottage – double or twin shared Price includes: airport transfers, all meals, snacks, coffee, tea, unlimited drinking water and taxes. For additional information about the photo pros view our webpage. For reservations click here or contact your favorite dive travel agent.
  7. Following on from my serialisation, here is my full 90-minute documentary about the marine life of the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia. Subtitles are available for both the narration and the names of the marine species and dive sites. If you disagree or wish to add to any of the content, do please comment. Feedback is always appreciated. Feel free to share and embed anywhere. Enjoy!
  8. In September 2007 I took my old Sony HVR-Z1P to the Lembeh Strait for 9 days and came back with a ridiculous amount of footage of a ludicrous number of critters. Six and a half years later, I've finally made a documentary of it. Speed of post-production is not one of my strengths Last year I posted a prologue video. Now, finally, here is the first episode, which introduces Lembeh's location at the heart of the Coral Triangle, and takes a look at corals and tunicates. If it's OK, I'll post future weekly episodes on this thread. The camera was in a Light & Motion Bluefin HD housing with a flat port, and I used a Century +3.5 achromatic diopter for most of the macro shots. I used Light & Motion Elite (halogen) lights on most shots. As always, honest feedback is welcome - positive, neutral or negative.
  9. Traveled to NAD resort on May 5 to May 16. Very long trip-stayed in Ambassador transit hotel when I got to Singapore, then left for Manado in the morning. No problems connecting with transport to NAD which takes about an hour from airport. The Underwater Tribe photo workshop was scheduled at the same time so I got to have a personal guide for my stay since I was doing video. Lembeh lives up to it's reputation as the critter dive you want to do. NAD is not a luxury resort but it is good. Large camera room, charging stations, friendly staff. The rooms are basic with air and good showers. Saw so many of the critters that I wanted to see-blue ring, wonderpus, many ghost pipefish, bobbi worm and more. If you are a hard core muck diver-this is the place you to go.
  10. I've been working on a 90-minute documentary called "Mucky Secrets", about Lembeh Strait critters. I still have some way to go before finishing it, but here's a prologue I made in advance of the full release. I really tried to show the personalities of the animals, which isn't easy when they only have about 3 seconds each. Feedback welcome!
  11. I am very pleased to announce that both LIGHT & MOTION and NIGHTSEA will be sponsoring the Dive4Photos Anilao Photo Workshop, being held at Crystal Blue Dive Resort from 26th February to 7th Match 2014. Workshop participants will now have FREE use of Sola Nightsea fluorescent lights, provided by Light & Motion, and Nightsea will provide a selection of strobe 'Excitation', camera 'Barrier' filters and mask visors. Ties Lahlali of www.UVDiveKohTao.com will be on hand armed with additional Nightsea BlueStar lights, as well as marker lights for each diver, for additional safety. So we are well and truly set-up for some amazing fluo-diving and photography! And that's not even mentioning the abundance of cool critters to be found around Anilao for the three daytime photo-dives! So why not join Alex Tyrrell, Mike Bartick & Ties Lahlali at Crystal Blue in Anilao next year? For further info please see http://www.dive4photos.com/Photo-Workshops/Anilao-Photo-Workshop.html or email alex@dive4photos.
  12. Central Indonesia...Lembeh to Ambon Join Blue Kirio and Capt Casey Mahaney aboard the Tambora for 12 nights of diving and cruising the north central portion of Indonesia. This custom one way itinerary will begin with 2-3 days of diving in North Sulawesi's Lembeh Straits. From there we will then head east cross into the Maluku Sea and dive the remote island of Tifore which is well now for its clear blue water and large fish action. From here we will travel further southeast and dive several islands East of Halmahera, including the Goraici Island group where there are many great dive sites with an abundance of amazing fish life and critter species. The reefs here are covered with hard & soft corals, along with sponges that are teaming with sweetlips. You will also find schools of red and black snapper, napoleon wrasse"s, huge size dogtooth tuna and reef sharks. As we move south we will also dive several islands in the Patinti Strait region which is a channel between Halmahera Island and Bacan Island. This area has excellent reefs full of blooming orange soft corals packed with anthias, plenty of large soft coral covered bommies in all different colors and a variety of species. It is a good drift dive area with lots of reef sharks; black tip, white tip and grey reef sharks are resident here as well as rays and many big napoleon wrasse. In addition, the Patinti Strait area offer great day and night dive sites with many calm bays which provide good shelter for many critters like robust & ornate ghost pipefish, bobtail squid, even blue ring octopus and includes rare encounters with epaulette sharks the walking sharks which are also found here. As we continue across the Seram sea we will dive a number of sites which offer an abundance of marinelife and in a variety of habitats. We will finish the trip in Ambon Harbor and will do a couple of dive days in this legendary muck diving location. In addition, Casey will be offering his original Top Photographer Workshop & Photo Contest. This unique Photo course is not duplicated anywhere else in the world and is designed to challenge and improve all U/W shooting photographers skills.It also includes cash discounts on future Blue Kirio tours. For more on this please follow this link: http://www.bluekirio.com/Home_Page/workshop.html This tour will be aboard the Tambora which is a relatively new vessel that has all the features you would expect in a modern top of the line liveaboard. Ensuite cabins, individually controlled AC, side by side beds, dedicated photo station, Nitrox, 2 dive tenders, etc... For much more on this tour and the Tambora, please follow this link: http://www.bluekirio.com/Home_Page/Lembeh.html Trip Specifics: Dates: October 6-18 2013...12 Days Cost: $4500/pp... Includes all Port & Park Fees, Photo Workshop & Contest, meals, land transport to and from the boat, accommodations and diving wile aboard the Tambora. To book your space or if you have any questions, please contact Capt. Casey at: Email: diving@bluekirio.com Ph: (561) 283-1993 Skype: captcasey
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