Night Diving

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    From Justin, Expedition Manager

    Dive number: 39

    Location: Valleys

    Time: 0500

    First night dive! Yay!

    Depth: 16 metres

    Time: 48 minutes

    Temperature: 21 degrees – cold!

    I was very excited to be doing my first ever night dive. All the other (9) Advanced Open Water qualified volunteers and Louis, Al and myself were the divers. Al gave a dive briefing, short and sweet, and we collected our gear and headed for the boats. I didn’t even need to use a torch because the moon was directly overhead and it was only a few days past full.

    I sat in the bow of the boat shining my torch in front of us, checking for pirogues. At the dive site, the moon was almost bright enough for the whole kitting up process. There was a red glow in the east that got noticeably brighter before we got in the water.

    Once we were in the water, Allison, our boat marshal, passed me the surface marker buoys and I activated the funky red beacons on the SMBs and passed one to Al.

    Once we were submerged, we headed off in a column of three buddy pairs. We snaked our way over, down and around a topography that felt very random given how little we could view of it at any one time. It was the most sense of adventure I have ever felt on a dive.

    We saw a stingray under a ledge and for much of the dive a remora followed us. It looked like a tiny grey and black striped shark. I noticed that many of the corals that I was used to seeing without polyps now had them out: leathery soft corals and encrusting massive hard corals.

    I looked up at some point to see the sky was no longer black but a deep blue, the first hint of dawn. It got brighter over the dive so that by the end, we were no longer using our torches. As the dive wore on, I started to get cold. This is the first dive where this has really been a problem for me.

    When we finally came up the sky was red all round the horizon and the sun had quite risen. As we were getting into the boat, the shout of “Whale!” went up. I spent a frustrating minute or two in the water trying to get my dive kit off so that I could get into our boat. I finally got in and we were able to get a good view of the whales. I saw numerous spouts and breaches. Small parts of huge bodies emerging from the water not far in the distance and arching down again, followed by tails the width of our boat at least.

    They were easy to spot because there was not a breath of wind or any waves and every perturbation of the water’s surface was so noticeable. We watched 5, 10, maybe 15 whales altogether. I’m not sure how we decided when to leave, but the part of me that had noticed my chattering teeth was pleased.

    Getting up at 4 O’clock in the morning has never before been so rewarding.