Have you ever been on a night dive?
As unsafe and scary as diving into pitch black waters may sound, the reality of it paints a totally different and illuminating picture! Despite my initial skepticism, ever since I did night diving for the first time, I consider it equally exciting and fulfilling as the day diving is, if not more so!
Divers can experience an entirely different underwater environment at night, because many marine animals are nocturnal. Also, night diving is special because even a familiar site looks different at night. Having said that, diving at night at a known location dive site is one of the first safety steps to keep in mind when night diving. Dive what you know! When you make a day dive, you normally scan the entire dive site looking at your surroundings. You can start preparing for your dive near twilight near the dive site to take advantage of prepping your gear and performing checks when there is still light timing sundown and the dive to maximize use of available day time. We tend to prefer shallower night dives as a rule. Shallow fun night dives it is!
Once you dive you will realise that during the night, you see only the limited area of the dive site that is lit by your torch light. This forces you to slow down and concentrate on that one area, effectively enabling you to spot all the little corals and organisms you fail to spot during the day. Focusing on small areas makes you more observant and of course makes all the colours pop! Its a treat!
However, additional hazards are present when diving in darkness, maybe the most important one being the potential torch or flashlight failure. This can result in losing vertical visual references and being unable to control depth or buoyancy, being unable to read instruments such as dive computers and diving cylinder contents gauges, and potential separation from the rest of the diving group or boat.
Basic requirements for night diving are a torch or flashlight, a backup source of light to eliminate the risks associated with torch failure and, of course, proper protection from exposure in terms of a wetsuit. Dives should also be cautious not to shine their light in other divers’ eyes and to use surface light signals or a surface marker buoy with an attached strobe or Cyalume Stick. Light of course is half the battle. Proper navigation using compass and visual cues where possible is a must! Keep in mind that hand signals get modified during night dives to accommodate with one hand holding the torch! Make sure all the divers in your group know how to draw each other’s attention using the flash light as well as how to perform hand signals using their torch hand. Consider that you are using the same hang-signal language, but with a “flashy” accent! 😉
For you hardcore divers one of the best ways to make a night dive is just before dawn where you get to see the sun go up and the ocean world wake up to a brand new day! – xoxo