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Dive Review of Heartland Marine Dive Shop/Miyamura Pension in
Japan/Zamami

June, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Jeanne Reeder, MO, USA
Contributor   (12 reports, with 9 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4186 has 1 Helpful vote
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Raja Ampat, Palau, Cozumel, Bonaire, Cayman Brac, Belize, Curacao, Turks
& Caicos, Virgin Gorda, Saba, Statia, St.Kitts, Roatan
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny  
Seas
calm  
Water Temp
77   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
100   to 150    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
[Unspecified]  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
1 or 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
N/A
Overall rating for UWP's  
N/A  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
[None]
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
The dive trip to Zamami was impeccably arranged by Lisa Slater at Open
Coast Travel.    Lisa is fluent in Japanese and a well traveled Dive
Instructor with much of her time spent leading groups in Japan.  She is
definitely the go-to person for diving in Japan.  

We flew from Tokyo via ANA to Okinawa mid-morning, and took the afternoon
Queen Zamami ferry to Zamami; only 55 minutes, with one quick stop at AKA,
a neighboring island.    The sunny mid 80 degree F day's beauty was
enhanced by picturesque long, wide, white sand beaches on the many islands
we passed.

The island of Zamami lies 25 miles SW from Okinawa, 1000 miles from Tokyo.
Zamami is about 6 1/2 sq miles, with a population of approximately 750.  In
the small village of the same name, there are a couple dozen small dive
operations, and several choices of accommodations and restaurants.  It is
very low key, laid-back, and friendly.  

Waiting for us upon arrival at the village of Zamami was Momo, dive master
with Heartland Marine Dive Shop.  Her energetic warm smile of greeting made
us feel immediately at home.  She deftly piled our luggage into the dive
shop's van and transported us less than 1/4 of a mile to Miyamura Pension,
next to the dive shop. 

Diving was back-roll, negative buoyancy from a 35' vessel which was simple,
functional, and carefully maintained.   Tanks were laid on the flat,
approximately 9'wide, open deck and secured from rolling with a heavy
weight.   The high rounded bow is similar to other Asian craft I've seen
used as dive boats.   Dive sites were 5-15 minutes away.  On all but one
trip we returned to the dock and snacks between 2-tank morning dives.  
After dives, tea was served on board.  Dive briefings were sparse but
contained salient points such as profiles, depth, and suggested time.  All
were adjustable depending on our findings undersea.

On all dives visibility was excellent, usually exceeding 100'.  There were
many varieties of abundant, colorful, and healthy corals, with no coral
bleaching on the sites I dived.   However, I was told there were sites that
do have problems; one in particular was pretty well devastated by
crown-of-thorns starfish and is now rebuilding.  The soft corals here seem
smaller than and not as flamboyant as in Raja Ampat (Irian Jaya) or even
Bonaire; but still very impressive.   Terrain on the dives varied widely: 
Elkhorn coral densely carpeting acres at Amuro-Gyosho;   Ugan's (Man-Rock)
pinnacle of rock extending about 200' out of the water with its base
resting about 150', done as a drift dive;  a sea of pillar coral
characterized another dive; the intricate cave structure of Yakabi-Kita was
fascinating; white sand dotted with coral heads flush with fish and
creatures was mesmerizing.  

With Momo's superb eye for the unusual, I saw some of the most amazing
variety of fish I have ever seen.   After each dive we poured through
several of her Japanese language fish ID books.  Because sometimes she did
not know the English translation, I took detailed descriptive notes and
copied Latin name or the kanji, using the resources of my son who is fluent
in both languages when we returned to Tokyo.  One fish in particular that
Momo didn't know was frustrating because it was in a crevice in the cave at
Yakabi-Kita and of unusual shape and coloring.  She wrote on her slate: 
'don't know English, but this is it's shit'  aand she proceeded to pick
some up, both of us feeling its texture while glancing in frustration at
the mystery-fish.     

Parrot fish abounded in more colors and patterns than I had ever seen. 
Twinspot, Common, Spotfin,  and Clearfin Lionfish were spotted along with
the smaller Ambon,   as well as lionfish babies of 1/2".   The 3"
dragon wrasse juvenile, with two protruding 'horns,' held my attention.  We
saw five of the six anemone fish Momo said could be seen in the Zamami
area, including Orange as well as Merton's, with several groupings of their
eggs within the gently waving anemone.    I never would have seen the ghost
goby on a soft coral whip with its eggs, if it weren't for Momo.   Puffer
fish were seen on every dive, including a marble size 'baby', as well as
juvenile and adult.

Two leaf scorpionfish (one red, one white) were within 18" of each
other in separate crevices in the coral. The next day at a different site,
a green leaf scorpionfish was out and about, moving from one crevice to
another.   A Reef Stonefish ambled along undisturbed by our presence.  We
kept our distance from him as well as from a very aggressive large sea
snake which was in a fast search-consume mode.  Star fish of all sizes and
colors abounded, as well as several species of moray eels and unusual
nudibrach.

 At Nishibama, Kozaki, Heartland Dive Instructor, and I descended a sloping
sand bottom dotted with low coral heads to 78'.  We spent 25 minutes just
going slowly around one, perhaps 10' diameter, with hundreds of fish.  This
was a cleaning station par excellence with about 5 kinds of shrimp
administering to a variety of fish of all sizes, including a stout-moray
with a box cleaner shrimp in its mouth.   A small cleaner Wrasse seemed
fascinated with my lower lip; I couldn't shake its nipping.  I thought it
would be raw by the end of the dive, but no problem.  

 The only safety concern I had on diving with Heartland was no oxygen on
board.




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