Muck Diving Versus Soft Coral Diving, In Lembeh, Indonesia
People come to Lembeh primarily for muck diving.
I have done muck diving before, in Apo Island in the Philippines, and I absolutely LOVED it.
Apo island is a marine reserve where no fishing is allowed, which allows a wide range of fish and coral to thrive in the area.
The fishermen living around Apo Island agreed to make it a marine reserve, because it was proven to them that the overflow of fish from Apo island would fill their nets with fish.
Before Apo island was declared a no fishing zone, the fishermen’s nets were coming up empty, after many decades of overfishing.
The result is that in Apo island, there are lots of critters and life in the muck.
There is also no trash in the water, and I saw lots of sea horses and amazing critters.
In Lembeh, fishing is practiced everywhere, even right near the dive sites.
I saw less critters and did not love the muck dives as I did in the Philippines.
Swimming around the empty sand looking for tiny shrimp, or a single seahorse covered in algae, or a minuscule crab is not my idea of great diving.
I much prefer the soft coral dives that I did in Lembeh.
Unfortunately, all the dive guides are trained to scour the muck at the bottom of the sea and look for tiny creatures hiding there.
They have great eyes that detect the tiniest of critters, some of which look like a centimeter long string or a piece of algae.
Then suddenly you see that it has eyes and a mouth!
Divers in Lembeh dive with a small steel stick to stabilize themselves in the muck and not get carried away by the currents, while looking attentively for tiny life in the muck.
I found the soft coral sites in Lembeh, which are teeming with life, to have vibrant colors, interesting coral formations and many critters.
it felt like diving in a beautiful aquarium.
Nowadays, it is not easy to find soft coral at many dive sites around the world, so why they would overlook such vivid beauty, and plunge their noses into the muck, is a little beyond me.
It is true that muck diving is cool in a bespoke kind of way.
It is not as stunning and breathtaking as diving along a soft coral reef, but it is calming and cool to look for critters that are easy to overlook.
So why stick our noses into the muck when there are such beautiful corals around?
I guess it is a metaphor for the human condition in general.
We ignore the beauty and glory that is everywhere, and focus on what we don’t like.
We don’t let a sunset change our lives; instead, we glance and take it in for a few moments.
We tend to focus on the things that need fixing or that aggravate us, instead of allowing the perfection of Life to heal and soothe us.
We buy into the belief in scarcity and limitation, and believe that we are just humans with a limited mortality, when in truth we are powerful spiritual beings, infinite and endowed with godly powers.
Instead of looking for the stunning beauty around us, and more importantly inside us, we stick our noses in the muck, swim around surrounded by trash, and pretend that it is beautiful.
Well….. I am going to mention that despite all the fishing, there are great dive sites in Lembeh, including Nudi Falls 1 and 2, Nudi Retreat and the Coral Garden, just to name a few.
Diving by the corals, the open channel allows the rubbish to be washed away, and it offers great diving.
Each organism living on the soft coral is alive.
Some have fluorescent lights which intensify as the creature senses the possibility of danger, others have long tentacles with which they lure their food.
I saw spiny creatures flashing electrical currents, toad and frog fish that look like pieces of coral, and many lion fish that look magnificent as they spread their long, angelic wings.
The coral itself is comprised of many living organisms, I guess you would call them “plants,” providing shelter for each other and clumping together as a protection from the strong currents.
Above us, as I emerged from the dives, I could see the fishing villages which line the shoreline.
Some are Christian villages with a few churches and many crosses on the houses, and other villages are Muslim with a few mosques and minarets.
The steep hills above the villages are full of coconut trees.
These trees are living organisms as well, just like the coral and fish I admired under the sea.
The volcanos in Northern Sulawesi erupt periodically, which is a good reminder that the earth itself is a living and breathing organism, shaping and reforming itself all the time.
It is much like our own journey here on earth, as we attempt to shape and reform our small identity, to become all encompassing and merge into the grander Universal Soul….
From Northern Sulawesi, I send you thoughts of light…