: The Ministry of Toursim, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) Sabah State Office on June 22 conducted a 5 day "Macro Dive Site Mapping Voluntourism Programme" aimed to set up the first dedicated macro dive site for Malaysia in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020.
Ten volunteers from the Semporna Tourism Association and Semporna Professional Divers Association joined the program held in the straits of Bum-Bum Island.
14 dive sites were explored and 8 sites were mapped as potential for macro diving.
Muck diving is referred as a diving activity conducted in dirty or mucky environment.
Other than muddy sediment, the dive site may consist dead corals, house or fish farm wrecks and other man made items that are trapped underwater.
Within these underestimated mucky waters lies a high density of minuscules marine life.
The tiny and strange underwater creatures attracks underwater photographers and videographers using "macro" lens to magnify the subject hence Macro Diving got its name from.
According to MOTAC director for Sabah Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar, the straits along Bum-Bum Island is rich with macro marine life.
"We have recorded quite a number of unique and endemic species, such as skeleton shrimps, hairy shrimps, tiger shrimps, decorator crabs, orangutan crabs and also a handful species of small cuttlefishes like the flambouyant, popcorn, bobtail and papuan and pygmy cuttlefish.
"There is also various types of nudibranch (seaslugs) such as melibe and Thecacera Pacifica or famously known as Pickachu".
This means that underwater photographers can go as far as super macro depending on their equipment.
One of the participants, Lai Wei Zhong said as a local dive operator, he hopes that this dedicated Macro Dive Site can help attract many enthusiast especialy underwater macro photographers from all over the world.
"As a tourist, they only do few dives in Semporna and Bum-Bum Island is almost a guarantee that they can take interesting macro photos of small creatures since it is easy to spot them, especially at night."
Dendy Ali Omar, a local instructor hope that the establishment of this new product can increase the income of local dive masters and instructors when hired as a "macro spotters" which needs skills and training to develope.
"Just like specialised guides, we are trained to spot even the most smallest underwater creature as small as 2mm in the night.
"I also hope that the ministry can conduct a special course to enhance the knowledge of local dive masters and instructor to become macro spotters."
Ahmad Zaki also said that having a dedicated macro dive site can remap Pulau Bum-Bum as a must-dive spot for divers from all over the world, complementing other established dive sites in Semporna namely Sipadan-Mabul-Kapalai and potentially could be one of the best macro dive site in the world.