Whatever that can be done during the day would certainly feel differently at night, and scuba diving is no exception to that. There’s always going to be something special happening whenever you do a night dive, from bioluminescent creatures, to nocturnal marine life, to just the simple, calm ambience of it all. You could have explored your favorite reef until you’re familiar with every nook and cranny, but once you do it at night, it’s a completely new world.
While a lot of people would feel overwhelmed by the prospect of doing a night dive, scuba diving at night does offer a unique experience, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll definitely be hungry for more. But where do you even start? What should you expect? Well, we’ve summarized a few things you’ll be able to enjoy in this nocturnal marine experience.
1. There’s a Lot of New Animals to See
There is a significant shift in activity for the local wildlife once the sun starts setting. A lot of the day time fishes start retreating into their hidey holes, while octopus become more active and start roaming the reefs for food, as will the squids and the cuttlefishes. Some species even produce bioluminescence, where their bodies shift in color, and would even produce light. While this can be observed during the day, it becomes more apparent during a night dive.
Certain species of sharks and rays also become more active during the night to hunt. This can be a bit of a treat, as some species aren’t as active during the day as they are at night. You’ll also be able to notice that their eyes reflect light, much like a cat’s eyes will. While the prospect of swimming with sharks may not appeal to some, they’re actually more interested in searching for food rather than attacking humans.
2. The Environment Changes. A Lot.
While most people would be forgiven to think that corals are no different from decorative rocks, going out on a night dive will certainly change your opinion about that. At night, many coral polyps open up to feed to absorb nutrients from the passing currents. This sort of activity isn’t exclusive at night time, but it does become more apparent after dusk, as the colors of the reef start becoming more vibrant.
Much of the light you get to see underwater becomes filtered out the deeper you go, losing color in the process. During a night dive, the only source of light you’ll be having is the one you’re carrying, and since the source is close by, you get the see everything in its full glory, just as it should be. The light becomes more concentrated, and your senses become more acute, allowing you to appreciate the reef in a different light. Pun intended.
3. Be Prepared for the Best Light Show
Just as we’ve mentioned before, one of the best things to experience on a night dive is the presence of bioluminescent lifeforms. It’s not just cuttlefish, but also plankton. What’s special about these plankton is that they glow like fireflies whenever they come into contact with you. Simply waving your arms will create one of the best lights shows you’ve ever seen.
Getting the Most Out of Your Dive
Now that we’ve talked about what you should be expecting at a night dive, it’s time to talk about how you can make the most out of it. Here are just some tips you should consider doing to help you prepare:
1. Stick to The Shallows
A lot of people who are doing their first night dive tend to try and upscale themselves whenever they do. They tend to bring in new gear or try to get into the deeper parts of the water to try and make the most of it. As we’ve mentioned before, the reef can be a different place at night from what you’re used to, so upscaling the dive will only cause you unneeded complications and stress. Sticking to the shallows and at calmer waters will make things easier for you, and if things start getting rough, it becomes a lot more manageable, even fun. You can go for harder dives once you’ve gotten used to the night dive.
2. Start at Dusk
While it may seem counter-intuitive to start your night dive hours before nighttime, it’s actually a good time to do so, since you still have a bit of light left to check your gear. You’ll also get the chance to slowly acclimatize to the surroundings just as the daylight is fading, not when it’s already pitch-black. Starting your dive at dusk would also allow you to observe creatures as they change their behaviors to get ready for the night.
3. Get a Good Light Source
There isn’t much of a difference in the gear you’ll need to carry when you go in for a night dive. The biggest changes, however, is the most important. Making sure that you have a good light source means you’ll get to appreciate your surroundings better and help with the navigation. You’ll also be needing a backup light, preferably something small enough for you to keep in your pocket, but still big enough to help you find your way home in case your primary light goes out.
4. Plan the Dive
Forgetting to make the proper night dive plan could spell disaster for you and your team. It can be easy to lose sight of things and get lost when you’re out in the water in the dead of night. You should plan out the duration of the dive, how deep you plan on going, and who you’ll be diving with. Also make sure to pay attention to the briefing. A lot of experienced divers tend to forget how important briefings are, but during a night dive, the information you get here just might save your life.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re out doing your first night dive, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be in for the best treat of your life. Scuba diving at night is a unique experience that you need to do at least once in a lifetime. A well-planned night dive has the potential to make the familiar and boring look new and exciting.