The Magic of Night Diving

By Sophia Read

For The Bali Times

SEMINYAK ~ Vincent Van Gogh once said, “I often think that the night is more alive and richly colored than the day,” and nowhere is this more true than beneath the surface of the ocean. Diving, or even snorkeling, at night, one enters a whole new world of wonders – a “world of waters, dark and deep,” said John Milton. To some, night diving is the ultimate thrill, to others, simply an obvious extension of their daytime activities.

The night, the dark, stirs a primeval fear in the human soul. Since we huddled around fires to keep predators away, humans are naturally (and sensibly) wary of the dark. Our major sense, sight, is disabled. To venture willingly into what is essentially an alien environment – we cannot breathe or maneuver with our accustomed ease underwater – may seem foolhardy at best. But night diving has it’s own unique set of attractions.

Basically, diving at night, provided you follow correct procedures, is as perfectly safe as diving during the day. Scary monsters do not lurk in crevices (during the night they come out!), and a giant shark is not waiting for the middle of the night to attack your fishing vessel.

Night diving offers a whole news set of challenges and enjoyments – a familiar, oft-dived site becomes mysterious and alluring. Daytime creatures have vanished and a new range of fascinating and colorful life abounds. At night the reef quite literally comes alive: the coral polyps emerge to feed. All divers know that coral is alive, but when diving a reef during the day, it is difficult for us to conceive that something that resembles rock and stone so much can possibly be a living creature – diving at night, it becomes obvious.

One of the main reasons for taking a course in night diving is that it will ensure that you know the correct safety procedures. At night, even more so than during the day, the diver is completely reliant on his equipment, most directly the dive light. No one should go night diving without at least two light sources, a primary and a backup. Many divers carry three. The PADI Night Diver Specialty course will teach you how to choose a dive light, and, more importantly, how to maintain one.

The sign language that divers have developed as a means of communication underwater is limited at night. You need to be sure that your buddy can see your hands, and to do this you need to get their attention. Anyone trying a night dive also needs to ensure that they have secured their alternate air source, and the low-pressure inflator hose is in easy reach. Remember, one hand will be holding the dive light.

In Bali, we have several sites suitable for night diving – the wreck of the USAT Liberty on a full moon night is a wonder to behold, a living, breathing, sleeping, fighting, mating tumult of life. One of our favorite night dives is up on the northwest coast, at Pemuteran, the Biorock Regeneration Project. Here, at night, you can almost see the coral establishing itself on the structures as it reaches out to feed, a complete insight into how a reef is formed. Within reach of southern Bali, there is a great night dive available near Padang Bai. You take a short jukung ride to the still waters of Blue Lagoon, where diving at night often attracts schools of fish to the beam of your light – diving with an escort.

The writer is sales manager of AquaMarine Diving – Bali.

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