Night Diving – By Bryan Roseman
So you’ve dived during the day? And don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it was an amazing experience, but if you’ve never dived at night, you’re missing out. And i’m about to tell you why.
So what’s the main differences between diving during the day than at night? And please don’t say it’s dark. That would be too obvious. Well first up you’re not going to see everything around you. It’s kinda like walking through a tunnel at night, only you don’t know what is lurking in the shadows. Then there’s the nocturnal fish who like to feed at night. Giant Groupers, Barracuda and Stingrays to name a few.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the last paragraph to put you off. There is nothing out there that is waiting to get revenge on you. No killer sharks hiding during the day waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting night diver. Quite the opposite. Some of the marine hunters actually use the light of our torches to sneak up on fish. Seeing this in action is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can encounter.
Take last Tuesday for example. We headed out on the long tail about half an hour before the sunset. This alone is something to behold. The anticipation of going night diving coupled with the burnt orange and blue skies synonymous with the Koh to a sunset is undoubtably a magical moment. I could tell some of the divers had the usual pre-night-dive jitters so i set out to lighten the mood with some Koh Tao sunset selfie taking which seemed to take their mind off the step into the unknown. Soon we arrive at the boat. No equipment to be set up. We’d already done that after todays amazing dives at Chumphon Pinnacle and Twins. So it was time for the dive briefing.
As it’s a little different from day diving there are a few things you need to know. Point the torch in the direction you want to go. Shine your torch on your head when you are in the water so boats can see you. Things like that, but essentially the briefing is the same so i’m not going to bore you with the details. Lets get in the water.
Torches switched on and Divers briefed we enter the water just as it starts to get dark. I can remember the first time I went on a night dive and this part is probably the scariest, slowly we descend down the boy line. Descending into the unknown. A quick check that I have four torches behind me and that everyone is ok then we are on our way. Sure enough the night dive springs into action. It’s not long before we spot a blue spotted ribbon tail ray scavenging in the sand on the hunt for small shrimps and crabs and boy, this guy must be hungry, a huge effort!! We hover around him for a while, but he gets a little any with the torch light so decides to do his hinting elsewhere. He scuttles off into the darkness. It’s completely pitch black now so I decide to descend into the sand and show the students the awesome sparkle of the bioluminescent plankton that graces the waters of the gulf of Thailand. We hold our torches against our chests and vigorously wave our hands around in the water. What we see is for sure a wonder of the natural world. Some might describe it as stardust, sparkling little particles that light up when agitated.
When we’ve had our fun with our glitter fest I spot something out of the corner of my mask. Sure that it was a small school of squid I quickly gather up the dive party and head off in that direction. Squid are a little shy so rapidly swim away, but we manage to catch a few shadows. Not long after the encounter with the squid a barracuda the size of my leg passes into my field of view. He looks menacing with his razor sharp teeth and streamlined body, so far the night dive is not disappointing.
The next ten or fifteen minutes pass by a little uneventful, not boring though. We meander around White Rock in awe of the different corals and schools of fish which look completely different when under the light of our torches. Then we spot a giant Grouper. From experience and the way this magnificent fish is moving I know he’s on the hunt so i signal for my group to hover around and wait for the kill. A few minutes go by and I’m anxious because i know were nearing the 70 bar point where we need to surface, and then BOOM!!, he strikes like lightning with a crunch devouring a rabbit fish in one go. I hear whoops from my group who cant contain their excitement at what they’ve just witnessed. It’s the underwater equivalent of the ultimate safari experience. Happy that we’d managed to stay down long enough i signal to the group that it’s time to surface, but the experience isn’t over at that. When we emerge from the deep we are invited into a different world. The clear skies of South East Asia displaying an array of stars as far as the eyes can see.
Welcome to the world of night diving.
Enjoy night diving as part of your Advanced course or just for fun as an advanced diver, you’ll not be disappointed.