Night diving… After your first one you’ll either be addicted or realise you’re happier underwater during the daylight hours. Either way, one thing is for sure, and that’s diving in the dark is a very different experience to diving during the day.
When the sun sets, the underwater world changes completely. Different species are getting ready for a night of hunting and feeding, and creatures you saw during the day would be finding snug spots to sleep amongst the reef. While you would think diving without natural light means you wouldn’t get to see as much of the colours that coral reefs are so famous for, it’s far from the truth. During the day, the deeper you dive the more colour you lose. At night, you have your own tiny personal sun in your hand, lighting up the vibrant colours of the animals around you allowing you to see life as you never would during daytime diving in its full vibrant colour spectrum.
When you’re holidaying on a diving live aboard, you want to make the most out of every dive you can. One of the greatest things about night diving from a live aboard is being able to dive hard to reach and remote sites after the sun goes down. Because night diving is so different to diving during the AM hours, there are a few steps and precautions you can take to make sure you get the most out of diving in the dark.
Dive the site in the daytime
Most diving live aboards and dive operations require that you jump in for a dive during the day prior to night diving, but even if they don’t I highly recommend diving the site while the sun is still high in the sky. It will not only make you ten times more comfortable on your night dive as you will have already seen the area, but you’ll know if you have to adjust any of your gear or weight before your evening scuba session.
Keep it shallow
If you’re new to night diving, keep it shallow. Even if your not, and you have plenty of experience there’s not really a huge need to go to deeper depths, especially if you’ve been diving all day. You can only see what is illuminated in your torch beam, so depth and visibility doesn’t have as much of an impact on a dive as it does during the day. Keep it shallower, take in all the bright colours, look for the little critters that are out and about and just enjoy the feeling of tranquility that comes with diving in the dark.
Know your gear
Don’t dive with a brand new kit for the first time on a night dive. Make sure you are familiar with the gear you’re using. This is another reason diving the site during the day is so important, because you’ll know that you’re squared away gear wise for the evening. Make sure you know how to turn your torch on and off (it’s harder than you think underwater!) and that you have the correct amount of weight so your buoyancy will be in check.
Bring a spare torch
Take two torches. If you’re luck is anything like mine, one day you’ll be underwater and everything will go dark thanks to a faulty torch or low battery. Make sure you have a spare and can easily locate it if you need to. Having tank lights or glow sticks on all divers tanks during the dive makes it easy to spot the rest of your night dive crew. Tank lights are a better choice, as there’s no chance of them breaking open underwater and polluting the reef.
Listen to the dive briefing…
It might be your first night dive, or it might be your hundredth. Either way, pay attention to the dive master when you are being given your site and safety briefing. They will run through important need to know things, like signals (these are different to ones you would use during the day) and emergency protocols.
… and don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re feeling nervous don’t be shy, let your dive master help you because that’s what they’re there for. When people let me know they are feeling a little apprehensive about diving I really appreciate it. That way I know who I want to have stick a little closer to me, and who may need a bit of extra attention. There is nothing wrong with being nervous about diving, and pre-dive jitters are a normal thing. Your dive professional is there to help you, so make the most of them and their experience.
Jumping in when the suns still up
While it might still seem pretty light above the water when you get told to gear up, it gets dark below the oceans surface quicker than you think. Gearing up while the sun is setting is the perfect time, and that way when you hop out you still have time for a cheeky cocktail before your day of live aboard diving catches up with you and you flop into bed.
Stick with your buddy
Occasionally you’ll get a night dive that feels a bit like an underwater circus, limbs flailing everywhere, divers bumping in to each other and kicking each other in the face with their fins. Stick close to your buddy and don’t stray too far from the group, but don’t be afraid to space yourself out a little bit. With bright torch beams lighting up the darkness, it’s actually quite difficult to get lost underwater and you’ll enjoy your dive far more if you’ve got room to move.
Let the sea life get its beauty sleep
I know I get pretty grumpy when I’m woken from my slumber unexpectedly. This would be multiplied tenfold if it were by a bright light to my eyes. If you see a sea turtle having a snooze, aim your torch away from its face. Sea turtles slow their heart rate right down when sleeping, so normally when woken they’ll need to go to the surface and gulp a breath of fresh air and they can become disorientated and distressed, so it’s best to try and keep an eye on where you’re shooting your torch beam. Avoiding pointing your torch in any animals’ eyes (including you’re fellow divers) is an absolute must during night dives.
Relax and enjoy the ride
At the end of the day (literally), night diving is fun! Take it slow and calm. There are no un-expected horrors lurking out there in the dark, and you’ll find if you relax your mind that night diving is one of the most incredible experiences you can have as a diver.
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Have any night diving tips we haven’t included here? Let us know by leaving a comment!