The Top 13 Critters To See Muck Diving
Soft-sediment sea beds may seem boring at first glance. But slow down and take a closer look, and you may spot one of these incredible critters
1 Bobbit worm
A nocturnal, sand-dwelling, carnivorous worm that in its own little way is the stuff of nightmares.
2 Mantis shrimp
There are 300 species of mantis shrimp and they all fashion elaborate burrows in rubble, sand or mud to provide protection from predators and to create an ambush point.
3 Moon-headed sidegill slug
Only comes to the surface of its sand or mud habitat at night.
4 Bobtail squid
The bobtail squid has disproportionately large eyes and use their ten arms to bury themselves beneath the sand and rubble by day and emerge to hunt at night.
5 mimic octopus
This garishly patterned cephalopod hunts in soft-sediment environs and takes refuge in any appealing abandoned hole or burrow it finds in the sand
6 Starry night octopus
Very shy of any light, this species is bright crimson, covered in white spots, and can be found prowling the sediment plains in search of bivalves and crustaceans.
Stargazers wriggle themselves into sediment soft enough to be displaced by their side to side rocking motion and shrugging twitches.
8 Ribbon eels
Juveniles are coal-black in colour, adult males are cobalt blue with a yellow snout and lower jaw, and transparent yellow, flared nostrils; adult females are completely golden yellow.
9 Garden eels
Garden eels live in colonies of up to a few hundred individuals, all inhabiting holes spaced in close proximity to each other.
10 Snake eels
There are more than 300 species of snake eel, which vary in size from 10cm to 1m in length.
11 Sand divers
When danger threatens, the sand divers will dive into the sand and disappear, with only their eyes and snout discernable among the bottom topography.
12 Convict fish
It is extremely difficult to find the adult convict fish, but seeing its offspring is easy. Juvenile convict fish aggregate in vast clouds over soft-sediment habitats.
They are workaholic diggers, shoveling mouthfuls of sand and rubble until they have created a vertical tunnel leading to a subterranean burrow.
For more about critters to spot while muck diving, see DIVE's October 2013 issue of Water Column.