Night Diving sounds a little scary for those who have never tried it. The thought of descending into dark waters with only the beam of a dive flashlight for light, the eerie calm waters and the very limited visibility that keeps you imagining what creatures lie outside your light beam can be intimidating and daunting. But once you try a night dive, I can bet you’ll want some more!
The Thrill of Night Diving
Night diving is a completely different experience than diving during the day. It’s both exhilarating yet surprisingly calm and relaxing at the same time. A whole new cast of characters comes alive after the sun goes down and night dives allow you to look at things in a whole new light. It’s better focused as your vision is limited to that of your light beam, making even a ten metre square more interesting with a lot more to see than if you had seen it in the day where you may have passed over it in a jiffy. Visiting a favorite or familiar dive site at night can feel like a visit to a whole new dive site, just the fact that it’s dark puts new twist and excitement into it.
Another appeal of night diving is the fact that colors appear brighter during the night. How is that you ask? As you remember from your basic scuba course, water absorbs color and the deeper you dive the less colorful the scenery. When you night dive however, you carry a underwater flashlight and since the beam doesn’t carry very far it’s not filtered as much as sunlight underwater, making fish and coral more vibrant and colorful in the artificial light.
Rules for Diving at Night
Night diving isn’t difficult, but it requires a divers to exercise a little extra caution and know some night diving safety rules. Here’s a few tips to night diving you should follow when you decide to take a plunge into dark waters-
- Set up all your scuba equipment in a well lit area preferably before you get on the boat and check your dive gear before especially your primary and back up dive lights.
- Keep your dive flashlight attached to your wrist at all times with a lanyard and turn it on before entering the water, this helps in case you accidentally drop it in the water you can locate it by it’s beam. Avoid turning your light on or using its switches underwater as this is when water can enter them.
- Always dive with a dive buddy and stick close to each other throughout the dive. If you want you could use a short buddy line to reduce the risk of being separated, it’s not necessary but can be used especially if you’re very anxious about diving at night.
- The golden rule is to Never shine your light directly into another divers face. Keep your beam low to avoid bumping into any objects or kicking up any sand from being too close to the bottom.
- Learn all night hand and light signals before. For example: To attract a buddy’s attention, wave the scuba torch light back and forth in a horizontal line just in front of them. To signal “something wrong”, wave the torch up and down.Waving the light in a circle is to signal “ok” and so on.
- Always remember your bubbles go up. This is important if you get disoriented during the dive or experience so called ‘vertigo’. The best in this case is to signal your buddy to assist you to the surface in a safe ascent, as breaking the surface and the sight of either the dive boat lights or the stars will help the effects disappear.
The best way of enjoying a night dive is to dive in slow motion and move in a calm and relaxed way. There are so many things to see even in that limited beam of light that you should take your time and go steady to get a nice close look at everything. Night dives can be very relaxing and just plain magnificent.
Don’t forget to look for bio luminescent organisms that glow a brilliant blue and green in the dark just like stars do in the sky. You can see them by covering your dive torch beam with a hand or holding it against your body to stop all light, then by just waving a hand through the water you’ll see streams of tiny, bluish lights dance off the fingers. The phosphorescence is caused by tiny plankton type organisms giving off a bioluminescence when disturbed. It’s amazing to see them light up and steam off diver’s fins as the swim in front of you.