Night diving offers a totally different experience to any other dive you have experienced before, and carries with it a whole new set of important rules and guidelines that need to be adhered to in order for the safety of the dive party to be maintained.
If you have never been on a night dive it is one of those experiences that you will either instantly love, or hate, but it is certainly something you should definitely experience to find out.
Night Diving: A Different World
Once the sun sets the vibrant colors of the daylight dives go with it, and the colorful fish somehow manage to disappear from view. Instead the ocean is filled with a variety of mollusks and crustaceans coming out of their daytime hiding places for their night time feasts.
This is also the time for the predators to appear, creatures like the conger eel who are mainly hidden from view during the day in caves and under rocks can be seen swimming freely out in the open at night.
Visibility is greatly impaired during a night dive because of the darkness, this may sound obvious but divers should be prepared as this is unlike any loss of visibility experienced in the daytime caused by debris in the water; it is in some instances a black out experience. Night divers can only see within the beams of light offered by their torches, though the water may well be crystal clear.
Embrace the Darkness Underwater
Though you may encounter areas of dense, almost black darkness, it is usually related to the location of the dive, in open water it is never really totally dark. If you were feeling confident enough and were to switch off your light you would notice that the reflected light offered by the moon and stars provides some illumination beneath the waves.
Once your eyes have adjusted to the underwater environment you may notice that the water around you appears to have a certain glow, and any movements you perform can be traced in swirling patters of phosphorescence. This is caused by the plankton in the water and the disturbance your movements causes, something that is invisible during daylight hours.
Because on a night dive the divers are using torches and getting closer to the marine life a lot more detail is visible. Creatures on the sea floor that may appear dark or black during the day, but under the beam of the torch they are revealed as having stunning, rich coloration.
This is one of the reasons why underwater photography is so exciting, so much more is revealed under the artificial light of the camera than in daylight. On a night dive you will discover that your senses are much more acute and you are much more aware of what surrounds you.
Photo Credit: The Alex Adventure Log
Night Diving Safety
All dives need to be properly planned and organized and this is even more important for dives that take place at night. As well as all of the regular rules and guidelines that should always be adhered to there are a few extra procedures that need to be followed.
Communication between divers in the dark is difficult and the system of communication to be followed in the water should be clearly understood before anyone enters the water.
Divers are heavily reliant on their torches, so if one torch stops working the dive should be terminated immediately. The crew in the boat or onshore should ensure that a good light is clearly visible to the divers as a point of reference and all night dives should only be performed in sheltered areas of not to deep, calm water.
Photo Credit: The Alex Adventure Log
One of the key safety rules of night time diving is to ensure that there are sufficient dive marshals to monitor the dive and that all divers are accounted for at all times. It is the marshal’s responsibility to ensure that everyone understands the night time communication system and the procedures to follow in case of emergency before anyone enters the water.
Should a diver become separated from the group for any reason, they are unlikely to be located until daylight and by that time could be very cold, exhausted and in generally poor condition which is why the recommendations are that night divers carry personal hand flares with them so that they can draw attention and rescue teams to their location.
Although night diving could be more dangerous then regular day dives it is a populair form of diving. In stead of night dives you could also do dusk diving. Doing your dives at night or at dusk will give you a complete other view of a reef. Although you have been diving the same reef over and over, at night or at dusk this reef will transform from a dull quite town into a vibrant night club.
Have you been done dives at night or at dusk? How was it different compared to a day dive? Let us know in the comments below.
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Blog written by: Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.