Diving tour explores protected Nha Trang seabed

 Hon Mun Marine Protected Area in central beach town Nha Trang is a popular diving spot famed for its 350 species of coral reefs and diverse sea life.

This set of photos was taken by Pham Huy Trung during diving trips in 2020 - 2021 in the waters of Hon Mun, part of the eponymous marine reserve in Nha Trang Bay.

Hon Mun Marine Protected Area, the first marine conservation project in Vietnam, was established in 2001, covering about 160 square kilometers. The area is home to nine islands, including Hon Mun.

Tourists who come to Hon Mun for scuba diving, glass-bottom boat rides, and skydiving are all requested not to bring along plastic bottled drinking water or plastic bags to avoid harming the marine environment.

The Hon Mun protected marine area has a diverse ecosystem of coral, seagrass beds, mangroves and cliffs.

According to published documents, Hon Mun's coral reefs hold international importance and have the highest biodiversity in Vietnam with about 1,500 species, including 350 species of coral.

In addition to coral, Hon Mun has more than 250 species of reef fish, 112 species of mollusks, 122 species of crustaceans, 27 species of echinoderms, 69 species of seaweed and seagrass.

Trung said that to capture marine life, he had to learn the basic 18-meter diving course in three days at a professional scuba diving center in Nha Trang, run by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

According to PADI, in order to avoid risks and adverse effects on Hon Mun reef, divers are required to have a certificate and during the diving process be supervised and monitored by PADI experts.

Scuba diving season at Hon Mun lasts from March to July every year amid a lack of strong waves. Located about 10 kilometers from Cau Da Port, Hon Mun has become an attractive diving spot.

"Diving at a depth of up to 10 meters you can admire the wonderful seascape of Hon Mun, including coral reefs to diverse sea creatures," Trung said.

Reef fish are often colorful, but some species also develop spines to defend themselves and challenge predators such as lionfish (pictured).

During a diving trip, you will have the chance to encounter creatures with magical shapes, such as this Christmas tree-like sea worm.

Trung said it is necessary to have good diving skills, a good camera, a set of waterproof equipment, a specialized lens for taking panoramas or macros, and a specialized light due to weak light under water.

A uniquely formed sea creature with a radiating blue tail.

A species of sea anemone clings to the reef.

The clown fish is covered with a protective mucus layer; therefore, it is not poisoned by the anemone's venom. In return, the anemone receives leftover food from the clownfish.

A shrimp hides safely in the milky white reef.

A small shrimp and bubble coral in the shape of eggs.

The photographer said when diving at Hon Mun at a depth of eight to 12 meters, in addition to the above creatures, there are groupers weighing seven to eight kilograms, eels of three to four meters and huge schools of anchovies.

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