Getting prepared for a night dive, you do everything the same as a daytime dive except you are going down into the ocean in darkness with flashlights. The hand signals for communication are slightly different also. That sense of discovering and nerves of an unknown brand new world that one encounters when exploring a reef is amplified on night dives.
Octopus are nocturnal, and something you are more likely to encounter on a night dive as opposed to a daytime dive. I’ve seen roughly five octopus over the course of several different dives. They are absolutely fascinating little creatures. They change color to camouflage with their surroundings. Black and white speckles change to beigy brownish to purply redish with blue. They glide along rocky outcroppings areas moving with slippery grace amongst the rock face and jettison out all tentacles at once in an extension to propel themselves through open water.
Giant silver barracudas two meters in length swoop down in a graceful yet slick approach and chomp down on little fish, biting them completely in half about 10 meters away from me.
We swim past crabs scurrying, damselfish sleeping and spiny poisonous scorpion fish sitting on the reef. Phosphorescent algae can be seen if you turn off your torch (flashlight), and you wave your hand across the open water. The algae when disturbed by something (such as a moving hand) lights up like microscopic fireflies all around you.
The scariest surfacing situation I’ve experienced occurred on a night dive that was led by a Divemaster in training. Our group of three surfaced next to the incorrect boat in a very strong current. We were being carried away past the farthest boat. Our boat was about 100 or so meters away. It might as well have been 20 kilometres away because with full scuba gear you move quite slowly. After about 5 or so minutes of hard kicking, we had not moved more than the length of the boat and were starting to get exhausted. My breathing got heavier and the choppy waves slapped our faces as we kicked against the current in the darkness. A surface current during the day is annoying but I was discovering how a night current could cause extra problems. The thought of being carried away and not being able to alert the other divers or our boat crossed my mind and started to freak me out a bit.
” We might have to go under again,” the Divemaster said.
WHAT! This was not something I had ever considered or even thought of doing. I was not diving with a computer so I didn’t know how close we were to reaching out decompression limits however, I didn’t argue. He made a decision that we would try swimming around the other side of the boat to our left, and if there was a current there also, we would have to descend underwater again to return 100 meters to our ship. After swimming with the current in the opposite direction of our boat we rounded the corner of the boat.
Why had I complained earlier with the head divemaster about coming to Whiterock! Twins would have been slightly less interesting but it was a dive site closer to shore and the current was probably not as rough. I felt bad about my complaining earlier but at this point it didn’t matter. We could scream and wave our flashlights around crazily if absolutely needed. Someone on one of the five boats in the distance would hear us… or see us. Wouldn’t they…?
Luckily after swimming five minutes we rounded the boat, and the surface current dissipated to the point that we were able to swim back through it to our boat in the distance. Hands down, this was one of my scariest scuba diving moments. In the ocean, you must take the good with the bad and use your skills to deal with the unpredictable. Mother nature has a tendency to shake things up on occasion. I can’t wait for my next night dive, and recommend everyone able to do scuba training put this on their bucket list, and learn to night dive. It is bound to be one of the most unique experiences of your life.