Scuba Diving at Night – It’s like A Magical Mystery Tour in the Dark.
If it’s your first-time night diving then it might sound a little bit spooky, but as long as you follow all of the rules then you will be delighted with the experience.
Creatures of the night are varied and there are many that appear to be asleep, but you will also see some differences with more juvenile marine life that you probably wouldn’t see during the daytime. Creatures such as squid, juvenile stingrays, various crabs, pufferfish, and feather stars. With your beam of light guiding the way all you have to do is keep calm and carry on diving.
Night Diving FAQ
Night dives are mostly conducted on a shallow reef where there are lots of interesting marine life, but the idea of scuba diving in the dark usually throws up a few questions?
Is it Scary? It’s dark and it’s different but it’s not scary. If you have any fear of the dark or any other related phobias about diving then you should gain some more experience with daytime diving before you consider a night dive.
Are there any dangerous sea creatures? There are some different marine species that come out after dark but the same rules apply. Do not touch or harass any sea life. The marine creatures that you will encounter are more likely to be scared of you and they will swim away quickly as you approach them.
What if I have a problem? Signal to your buddy to get his/her attention usually by moving your light beam across theirs. Do not shine your dive light in your buddy’s face. Indicate the problem to your buddy and if required, come to the surface.
What if my light fails? Every diver must have a primary light and a backup light. If one light fails, then you should abort the dive.
What if we become separated? In the unlikely event that you and your buddy become separated then you should look around for 1 minute and then come to the surface, Your buddy should be doing the same thing so that you will be able to reunite at the surface and then decide if you want to continue the dive together.
The dive leader should have some experience of diving at the chosen location. It would be unheard of for your guide to not have prior knowledge of the selected site.
For Navigating a reciprocal heading you will need to calculate your returning air pressure and plan the dive using the rule of thirds. A full cylinder of 200 Bar minus 50 Bar for reserve leaves 150 Bar for your dive. This means that you will plan to use 50 bar going out and 50 bar coming back. The extra 50 bar can sometimes get used if you are off course and need to find the boat. Obviously, you will still have the 50 bar reserve that you should not use.
During your reciprocal heading, you might hear the noise from the boat’s water pump or compressor which will get louder as you approach. Also, the deck lights from the boat itself will help guide you back.
Divers Buddy checks
The usual rules still apply but there will be a few extra things to consider.
For communications and hand signals you will need to use your dive light. For example, a hand signal can be made as normal but illuminated with your dive light. To get somebody’s attention you can shine your light beam across theirs and then direct your beam to point something out.
Check that both your primary and backup lights are working before entering the water, other lights you may like to consider are glow sticks and strobes. Air Gauges and depth gauges will illuminate if you shine your light on them.
Discuss emergency procedures such as light failure and lost buddy procedures. Before entering the water, turn your dive light on and leave it on until you are back on the boat. If you drop it in the off position then it will be difficult to find it again. Be courteous of other divers and DO NOT shine your dive light in your buddy’s face to get their attention.
Underwater Dive lights Considerations for purchasing an underwater dive light include brightness, burn time, beamwidth, and does it have rechargeable batteries?
Surface Marker Buoy. A divers SMB is a standard safety item that your dive leader and Instructor will carry with them but really all divers should carry one. The Inflatable SMB cannot be seen in the dark but you can shine your dive light into it which will then make it glow on the surface.
PADI Course. If you love night dives then you might be interested in the PADI Night Diver Specialty Course. You only need to make 3 dives or possibly just 2 depending on your previous experience.
Night dive options.
You don’t have to wait until it gets dark to begin your night dive. There are other options such as diving at twilight which is a cool idea. Jump in the water around 15 minutes before it gets dark so that you begin your dive as the remaining natural light disappears and experience the transition from daylight to darkness.
A regular night dive boat trip will consist of two dives that include one daylight afternoon dive followed by the night dive, or you could watch the sunset and then make a double night dive.
Another crazy idea is to depart after midnight so that your first dive is in the middle of the night and then plan your 2nd dive to coincide with sunrise. In essence, you will begin your 2nd dive in the darkness and slowly the natural light will increase as the sun comes up. This idea works well for a dive site that you are already familiar with and the boat does not have to move around too much in the dark.
Night dives on a deeper shipwreck are for very experienced divers only and you should also have some previous experience of the wreck itself before attempting anything like this.
Night diving is a very exciting experience, watching different creatures coming out after dark. If you want to try something different once in a while, then try a night dive.