Dive site review: Aringkambin (The Sleeping Goat) – muck route
Site type: White sand muck and shallow wall
Location: Bangka island
Distance from resort: 1 km
Max depth: 28m
Main attractions: An ever-changing cast of critters and one of the best chances to meet a dugong
A picture postcard sandy bay with blue water and a fine white sand bottom. It might seems deserted but take it slow, keep your eyes peeled and you will find some of the most amazing and cryptic creatures here. Its shallow seagrass and fine sand make it a snacking stop for the local dugong population and are seen here irregularly. See also: Dive site review for Aringkambin – wall route (coming soon!).
Above the waves
Aringkambin takes its name from the rock which dominates the left hand point of this small bay; if viewed at the right angle and with some imagination it could look like a sleeping goat! The goat forms the small wall which is a great dive in itself, however this muck route concentrates just on the sandy bottom of the bay itself. With a small private dwelling nestled on the beach, the bay is fairly protected and enjoys fantastic year round visibility.
Entering just to the left of the beach you are struck by how clear the water is and possibly by how there is an absence of much at all at first glance. Once on the bottom (five metres or so) follow the ripples of the sand to seaward. There is an almost imperceptible slope which takes you down deeper, with a more notable gradient after 18m. There are small patches of green and brown algae among which can be found fingered dragonets (pictured), tiny juvenile frogfish and some pipehorses. Scattered jetsam like logs and palm fronds often harbour colonies of shrimp and the odd crab plus robust ghost pipefish on occasion.
The real purpose of descending to 28-30m is to find the group of fire urchins which make this more gravelly area their home. Up to a hundred or so trample along the bottom with their blue luminescent barbs making them look like bizarre spaceships. If you look closely (and carefully!) some of them are home to the simply stunning Coleman’s shrimp (Pereclimines colemani).
Black and white spotted and nestled among the red, black and luminous blue urchins these make fantastic photography subject, plus are among some of the rarest and most spectacular commensal varieties. With bottom time running lower its time to start weaving back up the slope taking a look in, on, under and around anything which isn’t sand! There are commensal crabs in every sea pen and a good dive guide will be able to unearth a coconut crab or even a flamboyant cuttlefish depending on the time of year. Blue spotted stingrays hoover by while inquisitive puffers get in the way of the camera. It is tempting to suggest waiting around in the shallows for a glimpse of the legendary dugong but they are more likely spotted at the surface during a cup of tea!
Don’t say: Pff its just SANDSANDSAND!
Do say: Coral? Who needs coral?!