Descending into the inky darkness of the night to experience the nocturnal underwater world can certainly be a surreal experience. Many new divers find the thought of diving at night rather scary. However, for the well informed, diving at night can be one of the most relaxing, sensory dive experiences. And besides, there are many species of fish that you will get to see only during the night if you chose one of the best waterproof cameras here. Seeing the creatures of the night and the different behaviours of animals after dark is a real privilege.
Here are some night diving tips for all those who are new to this, or have never completed a night dive before.
Choose a Familiar Site
Make sure you dive a site that you have dived previously during the day. This will not only ensure that you are familiar with the area and how to navigate it, but it will also mean that you will get to experience the unique transitional changes in the marine life and their behaviours on a site between day and night.
Get Ready Early
On your first night dive, make sure you get ready in good time. There is nothing worse than rushing around at the last minute for unnecessary added stress. Give yourself plenty time to get ready, set up your equipment and do your checks.
Start At Twilight
Not only is the twilight time less intimidating for a first time night diver, it is also one of the best times to dive. At twilight, you will see the change in creature behaviour from day to night. This is why it is often a very “busy” time for animal behaviour. Day time creatures will be settling into position for the night, while the night-time creatures such as crustaceans, rays and sharks will start to become more active, preparing to commence their night time hunting.
Take a Back-Up Light
You must carry a primary light source (the main torch) and a back-up light. Use the back-up light if your primary light fails. It can be a smaller torch or even a glow stick. Don’t panic if your primary light fails. It is amazing how much you can see on a night dive even without a light once your eyes adjust, particularly if it is a full moon.
You really do not need to venture very far on a night dive to experience the dive, so slow down. As many of the smaller invertebrate critters come out at night, slowing down will ensure that you get to see them.
Keep It Simple
Keep your navigation simple to avoid disorientation and loss of direction. Avoid the stress of a complex navigation course.
Yes, you have to maintain close buddy contact on your night dive, but do give your buddy a little space. It is nearly impossible to get lost on a night dive with the torch beams. So spread out a little. There is nothing worse than buddies on top of one another and kicking each other’s masks and regulators.
Go With an Experienced Diver or Dive Professional
Do this on your first night diving experience and till you get familiar with night diving procedures. Listen to the dive briefing and ensure that you are familiar with the briefed procedures for night diving and/or procedures that may be unique to the area. You must learn the night dive specific hand signals, night diving etiquette like not shining your torch on other diver’s eyes, respecting the sleeping creatures, emergency procedures and such others.
Do Not Disturb the Marine Life
Just as divers do not like to have torches shone in their eyes, neither do marine life! So be a responsible diver. Do not disturb or cause unnecessary stress to the marine life.
Many fishes use the night time to sleep or may exhibit unique nocturnal behaviour. For instance, parrotfish often surround themselves in a scent-proof cocoon of secreted mucous to avoid detection by sharks. Turtles lower their heart rate down to just a few beats per minute to allow them to sleep without having to return to the surface to breathe. Disturbance from shining your light in the sleeping animal’s eyes may cause confusion, stress, disorientation, and an increase in heart rate.
You can still see the animal by shining the light source off the animal to illuminate it. But reduce the stress from a direct torch beam. This is certainly the case with sharks that often get startled by torch beams and may end up swimming directly towards the light source.
Try To Relax
Many divers have an over-imaginative brain at night and worry about the potential monsters of the dark. Try and relax. Give it some time if you don’t like night diving at first. You will often be able to see unique events during the night.