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

 
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Heartland Marine Dive Shop/Miyamura Pension, Jun, 2008,

by Jeanne Reeder, MO, USA (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 9 Helpful votes). Report 4186 has 1 Helpful vote.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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