10 Tips for Night Diving

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.

Go Slowly

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.

Spread Out

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.

Life Lessons I Have Learned From Diving

After so many years of diving, I can safely say that I’ve had a few really incredible underwater experiences. But diving has given me many life lessons as well.

Diving is a learning experience like any new hobby or sports. Like others, I first learned to dive, and slowly over time developed other skills, as I picked up new tips and tricks that came with experience. I learned about the ocean and its inhabitants. But diving has taught me a lot more. Some of these lessons reach far beyond the underwater. In fact, a few extend to everything I do.

  1. I learned to trust people – When we dive, we put our lives in the hands of others — our buddies, instructors and guides. I have often been in situations where somebody had to come to my rescue. This happens with all divers. Our buddies are our life-support backup system, should our own fail. I depend on them. I have known some of them for years. But sometimes, they are people I have just met. But I know, deep down there, I can depend on them. Otherwise I shouldn’t be diving.
  1. I trust myself – However having said that, I depend on my buddies only as a last resort. I want to be in a situation where I can handle any problem, either by solving or preventing them. After all, when someone comes to my rescue, I might be placing his or her in danger as well. I don’t want to do that.
  1. I am amazed with the kind of life down there – Every zone of the sea, starting from the top to the ocean floor, is packed with all kinds of marine life. Sometimes it’s so serene that I feel the most peace down there. But sometimes there is a lot of drama with schools of fish and their random moves, particularly when there is a predator around. And sometimes, I get completely bowled over by a new species that I haven’t seen before. In fact, I am sure there are many species yet to be discovered. Once, in Iceland, I saw a shellfish that lives in underwater thermal fountains, one of the least hospitable environments in the world.
  1. We create our own problems – Teaching other people to dive in entry-level courses, the most common problem I’ve seen people face is simply submerging and reaching the bottom, especially in shallow water. Many diver trainees struggle to sink and float at the surface, which typically leads them to request more weights to help them sink. But often the real reason they can’t submerge is because of uncertainty and tension created by being in a foreign element. The best thing to do is to relax and let it happen.
  1. Appreciate life – If you dive enough, you are bound to face situations that are potentially dangerous. I take all necessary precautions, but I live for the moment. That’s how I am able to appreciate each instance. Life from the ocean to the sky and everything in between can be so varied that I’m sure that I’m also special.