Dive Travel / Featured / Marine Life

Muck Diving.. What’s It All About??

Have you ever heard a diver talk about “muck diving” and wondered what on earth they were talking about and what all the fuss was about over something that sounds quite horrible? Well here is the answer to all your questions and some helpful do’s and don’ts to get you on your way to successful muck diving!

An Ornate Ghost Pipefish


Well first of all, why don’t we start with the big question: What is muck diving??

Muck diving originated in Papua New Guinea and basically refers to dives that take place in protected bays and reefs often with soft sediment, leaves and black sand. Now I know, the prospect of that doesn’t sound too exciting, but this is where we get to the cool part, muck diving is all about the ‘critters’! You can’t imagine the fun and excitement when every rock or piece of leaf may actually be an animal. It’s like underwater treasure hunting!


The Critters!

Considering that muck sites at first glance appear to be completely devoid of life, they harbour an amazing diversity of forms and types of animals. Some of the creatures would fit perfectly in a Sci-Fi movie and many are deadly poisonous! There are some commonalities between many of the creatures that inhabit muck dives. A large number are ambush predators and others are highly camouflaged to their surroundings to avoid their predators. This explains why so many critters are hard to find.

There are certain critters you can almost guarantee on a muck dive and others for which a little luck and good eyes are required. What you see will also depend on where you’re diving. A lot of people don’t know this, but there are a lot of muck diving creatures to be found here in Sydney if you look hard enough!

A shot of an Angler Fish I took at Bare Island!

Tips and Techniques for Successful Muck Diving

So much colour to be seen.. Check out this bright little scorpionfish


The two main things to bear in mind are that very fine sand and silt are extremely easily stirred up and secondly, that virtually all muck creatures are amazingly well camouflaged. Which means good buoyancy and good eye site (or a buddy that’s a good spotter!). You will eventually develop your ability to spot hidden treasures with time and practice, until then, dive guides are great for pointing out things you would otherwise have missed. I am lucky enough to have pretty keen eyes for almost invisible critters, but one great tool to have, is a torch. It is perfect for helping you focus on a particular area rather than moving all over the place, and will also help spot their eyes.


The most important thing is to have fun doing it, it is one of my favorite types of diving and there is SO much to see if you take the time to see it!! Know what you’re looking for and you’ll have a blast!!

Check out the Muck Diving opportunities available around Sydney.



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