By Hew Er-Win
I had my concerns when I signed up for the “Dive in to Earth Day” event as I was totally foreign to MNS and only got to know about it via my friend June. After I googled MNS, I soon found myself driving down to Mersing. Reaching the island, I was tired and to further add salt to the wound, it was a dark and gloomy morning, an almost sure sign that it was about to rain.
But with a twist of luck, and after a nap, things started to look better (that or I was less of a grouch!). The sun was up, the ocean was calm, and we all enthusiastically got geared up to dive. Struggling to set my BCD and regulators to the air tank, I was feeling a tad bit embarrassed, as it has been almost a year since my last dive. But I eventually got my act together and my dive gear was ready to be carried to the boat. It was then that I found out that there were tanks on the boat and we could use them. Saves the trouble of carrying the heavy tanks back and forth. Lesson learnt that day – always pay attention to the divemaster!
The boat ride was most relaxing and upon reaching our dive site, Greg, our divemaster, gave a quick explanation on what we would be seeing underwater and a reminder on hand signals (which is important, because if you tried saying “OK” with a thumbs up sign underwater, you are literally telling someone that you need to go up to the surface!).
Finally underwater, all the hassle of travelling and gearing up was forgotten. The view underwater was definitely beyond words. We were very lucky as the visibility underwater was really good. We had good sightings of underwater creatures, such as common coral fishes, turtles, bat fishes, moray eels, puffer fishes, black-tip sharks, baby barracudas, cuttlefish and the list goes on. Sadly, another group spotted manta rays at the exact dive spot we were diving at, but we missed them. We even tried diving at the same area the next day, but alas, we were not as lucky.
As for me, my favourite dive area would be Batu Malang, where there’s an amazing cluster of potato reefs. The whole area looked like someone dumped a truckload of potatoes into the ocean! And to add on to the masterpiece, one could easily spot fan coral, tabletop coral, cabbage coral (which someone commented looked more like cauliflower) and much more. If you looked closely, you could also spot colourful nudibranchs.
It was a trip to remember and I definitely miss the island. Amazingly, throughout the dives, there was so little rubbish to pick up that we couldn’t even fill up a bag. Picking up rubbish from the coral reefs was supposed to be one of the activities during this event.