The silty world of the weird, wonderful and downright spooky has attracted a certain type of diver for years. Obsessed with creatures that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi horror movie, Maarten De Brauwer, a marine biologist at Curtin University, Perth, Australia, brings us a list of dive destinations to grant the best chance of coming up close with these otherworldly animals.

Dive Destinations 

Bima Bay (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • Unusual Suspects
  • Better than Lembeh

Bima bay in the north of Sumbawa is largely unexplored and exclusive to liveaboard diving. Although very silty, there are plenty of cephalopods to discover including the mimic octopus, wonderpus, flamboyant cuttlefish, and the evasive blue-ringed octopus. Look a little closer and you may come across a Coleman’s shrimp or tucked away seahorses.

Sangeang (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • Black River
  • Bubble Reef

This volcanic island north of Sumbawa is only visited by liveaboards and offers a great mix of muck and reef creatures including baby frogfish, ghost pipefish, and plenty of pygmy seahorses.

Dauin (Philippines)

Dive sites to try

  • Ginsuan

Apo Island arguably put this area on the diving world map, but dive a little closer to the shore and you’ll sink into the midst of some top muck diving. Looking for frogfishes? This is a great location to catch them, looking as weird as ever, on the seabed.

Hairy frogfish,  Antennarius striatus

Hairy frogfish, Antennarius striatus

Bangka (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • Paradise Jetty

Hanging above the head of North Sulawesi, and overshadowed by Lembeh and Bunaken, Bangka Island has more to offer than just “lovely” reefs. There is great muck to be found, hidden away in both white and black sand, including pygmy pipehorses, frogfish, and ghost pipefish.

South Komodo (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • Torpedo Alley

The south of Komodo is slowly growing in popularity and has colder waters compared to the north. Besides big fish, it is great for muck, especially on night dives. Here you can spot nudibranchs, stargazers and electric rays.

Nelson Bay (Australia)

Dive sites to try

  • Pipeline

Discover Nelson Bay in New South Wales, a few hours north of Sydney, near Newcastle. A marine protected area, it hosts an abundance of sponges and soft corals, and an incredible number of seahorses, blue-ringed octopuses and nudibranchs inhabit the seafloor.

Greater blue-ringed octopus Hapalochlaena lunulata. © Rickard Zerpe

Greater blue-ringed octopus Hapalochlaena lunulata. © Rickard Zerpe

Perth (Australia)

Dive sites to try

  • Ammo Jetty

Take a trip half an hour south of Perth and you’ll reach a small jetty. Within this area, you’ll find lots of seahorses and octopuses, and it’s also a good place to find pyjama squid.

Lombok (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • Teluk Nara

Dive under the jetty used for departures to the Gilis, although it’s very silty, and you’ll discover numerous of Melibe nudibranchs and other exciting types of nudibranchs, Ambon scorpionfish, and ghost pipefish.

Manado (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • Batu Hitam

Manado, usually just a place to pass through on the way to Lembeh or Bunaken, is fast becoming a top dive destination. There are great muck opportunities along the northern coast of the city, including long-arm octopus, frogfish, stonefish, and mimics.

The hairy shrimp Phycocaris simulans at Popo dive site in Manado

The hairy shrimp, Phycocaris simulans, at Popo dive site in Manado

Northeast Sumbawa (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • The surrounding waters of Wera village

Unexplored, even by most liveaboards, Northeast Sumbawa has interesting muck, including frogfishes, nudibranchs, ghost pipefish, and coconut octopus.

Perhentian Island (Malaysia)

Dive sites to try

  • Vietnamese Drift

Known as a backpacker haven and an ideal place to learn how to dive, Perhentian Island also has some good muck. Promising deep dives and often a strong current, the site hosts an array of seahorses, blue-ringed octopuses, Bornella nudibranchs, and various scorpionfish.

Bali (Indonesia)

Dive sites to try

  • Puri Jati

North of Bali, and half an hour west of Lovina, you’ll find Puri Jati – a classic black sand muck diving site. Here you’ll find coconut octopuses, Ambon scorpionfish, seahorses, mimic octopuses, and many more.

Coconut Octopus Amphioctopus marginatus © Bernard Dupont

Coconut octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus © Bernard Dupont

For more of Maarten’s work, visit his blog.