Each diver has his or her own preference for a diving style. Some like to go deep and get drunk from the depths, others like sports dives, drift dives, those where you meet big pelagics, others can be totally addicted to wrecks. And then there is also, for the most patient, and there are more and more of them, the pleasure of searching in the nooks and crannies for tiny little creatures. This is what we call macro diving, particularly appreciated by photographers…
Some tips to find “macro”
The search for small creatures must be done methodically in order to multiply the chances of encounters, the diver who wanders his eyes in the void without really knowing where to look and what to look for will not find much. Among the good advice to be effective and to find as many species as possible, the first thing to do is to look in the books or on specialized websites. Knowing the species present in the area or sites on which you dive is already a big step. Because it will allow you to know what you are looking for ! Then equip yourself with a good light. On the one hand because it will be essential to reveal the colours to see many very colourful species… But whose colors are absorbed, and mix with the background in the absence of artificial lighting. But also because if you like the macro, there is a good chance that you will dive at night. The best way is to opt for a light that has a wide beam and a good range. A wide illumination angle will allow a larger field of view. By sweeping the bottom or substrate slowly from a short distance (about 1m max), you should start to find some nice little treasures !
Where to do macro diving ?
After these little tips to find strange little creatures more easily, let’s look at the best places to do this type of diving. Even if you can find macro almost everywhere, some destinations are simply temples of the macro. So here are some of the best places to dive for the macro:
A region of the world is far ahead in this field…. Southeast Asia, and particularly the so-called Coral Triangle. Why? Because it simply contains the most beautiful coral reefs and the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet !
Photographers who love macro photography will tell you that the Visayas region in the central Philippines is undoubtedly one of the best destinations for researching species such as nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs, small shellfish or even unusual fish such as frogfish or pygmy seahorses whose size does not exceed a centimetre ! With sites like Dauin, Panglao, Balicasag, Cabilao or Moalboal, the possibilities are huge to fill your image galleries. Let us also note, still in the Philippines but outside the Visayas (on the island of Luzon, further north), the excellent destination of Anilao, which is a reference in terms of Muck-Dive !
The Lembeh Strait in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is known worldwide as the temple of Muck-Dive (diving on a sandy volcanic or muddy bottom, often of lunar appearance, where a multitude of species have evolved to adapt to this environment… for incredible dives !) And so macro too! It is therefore imperative to keep a close eye out, as a certain number of these species have become masters in the art of camouflage… Indonesia is a great diving nation. Macro and muck-dive lovers will also love diving in Ambon in the Moluccas.
Still in the coral triangle, Papua New Guinea is a must in prestigious diving destinations. With preserved bottoms and healthy reefs, life abounds both in the water column and on the bottom with a myriad of species to be found, such as pygmy seahorses and an impressive collection of nudibranchs !
Other regions in the world are also particularly well supplied with small animals:
The Maldives is an exceptional diving destination. Under the postcard landscapes, divers come to observe the many sharks, whale sharks, mantas… but if you look down and take an interest in what is happening at ground level, you will also discover an unsuspected wealth of small creatures. Nudibranchs are common, as are crabs buried in corals or in the middle of anemone tentacles, or shrimps that are always photogenic.
A true biodiversity hotspot, with nearly 10% of the world’s marine species, the Mediterranean is home to a large number of tiny species, starting with nudibranchs. And the Marseille region is an excellent destination for those who want to go in search of the Lilliputians. Be careful, some species do not exceed 1 cm long ! Why don’t you take a magnifying glass with you? Also search in each anemone you will encounter….. You will also discover a hidden world !
The Canary Islands is an increasingly popular diving destination for short stays, and offers beautiful immersions where Atlantic, Mediterranean and tropical species meet. And divers who play the game will be surprised to see that the macro is well represented, with for example seahorses, many nudibranchs, shrimps or the elegant arrow crab in the anemones.
These destinations, excellent for macro diving, are just some of the opportunities available to divers. And of course, many others could be proposed. So wherever you are, keep your eyes open! The seabed certainly has some nice surprises in store for you….