By Annabel Thomas
For The Bali Times
SEMINYAK ~ I learned to dive on a five-day course at a Murex Resort in Manado (www.MurexDive.com). On perhaps the third evening there, I spotted people in full dive kit walking outside the restaurant.
â€œWhere are they going? Whatâ€™re they doing?â€ I asked my instructor, Dr. Hanny Batuna.
â€œWell, Annabel, theyâ€™re going night-diving,â€ he replied.
â€œDiving – at night … can I go, please?â€
â€œLetâ€™s get you certified to dive first.â€
He kept his word. On the day I passed the course, I was taken night-diving. My guide Eddieâ€™s hand remained clamped to my wrist for the entire dive – I really was not a natural diver – but I was mesmerized. The surrounding darkness means your concentration remains within the beam of light from your torch and the increased light makes colors stand out far more than during the day.
Did you know that parrotfish spin a kind of cocoon around themselves when they sleep? It hides their smell, keeping them safe from predators. It also means you can get up close to them; theyâ€™re asleep â€“ oblivious to your presence.
Many crustaceans are nocturnal, meaning the seafloor can be littered with crabs, lobsters, shells of all kinds.
A lot of marine creatures only feed at night â€“ watching an octopus hunt is utterly fascinating.
Coral spawning only happens at night: people travel the world just to watch it take place.
If you take the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, you may be offered the opportunity to try night-diving, which allows you â€“ after studying a little theory – to try a night-dive in the company of a PADI instructor.
Or you could take the PADI Night Diver Specialty, which consists of three dives and a bit more theory. You learn what additional equipment is required and recommended for night-diving, additional safety procedures, different entry/exit techniques, using lights underwater (including for communication with your buddy).
During the three dives, you practice and perfect the skills you learned in theory – simple stuff, really.
I also think that if you have – or think you may have – an interest in wreck-diving, the PADI Night Diver Specialty course would probably be good background. Some wreck-diving involves actually going inside wrecks â€“ itâ€™s going to be dark and youâ€™re going to be using lights and an increased amount of equipment. The Night Diver course can be a good test as to whether youâ€™d enjoy that sensation.
And the PADI Underwater Naturalist Specialty would be an obvious and complementary choice if youâ€™re actually diving at night to see more or new marinelife.
There are many PADI dive companies here in Bali. Log on to www.padi.com/padi/en/sd/whydive.aspx, click Find Dive Center/Resort, enter Indonesia and thereâ€™ll be a list of registered companies. Contact those that appeal to you, are nearest, and discuss with them what youâ€™d like to do.
Enjoy another side of Baliâ€™s nightlife!
The writer is director of AquaMarine Diving â€“ Bali.