Go on a Night Dive with Atu Kele
Just got back from one of the most annoying yet funniest night dive I have ever done! I, along with three divers on their first ever night dive, all excited and nervous at the same time, set out in gear into the water from the beach at seven this evening not knowing what was in-store for us.
With our BCs inflated, we kicked out into the ocean on our backs watching the stars above us, the sky was dark with only the stars glowing in perfect brightness. A few minutes out, still mesmerised at the sight of God’s wonderful creation, we sank into the pitch black water leaving behind the weight of gravity on the surface. With only the torches we had to light the way, we were pretty excited at what we were going to find under there. Just a minute in, i turned to find a glowing movement at the end of my LED light, changing its colour from blue to red then to gold…it was a reef squid, only six inches long, its fluorescent colours were so bright that you couldn’t make out the definition of its eyes. Definitely a sight to see! In the first ten minutes, we also encountered spider crabs, camel shrimps, parrot fish inside its cocoon and sea worms.
Already we were quite satisfied with our dive, or so we thought. Crossing from one patch of the reef onto another, I felt a sudden, slight bump on the side of my ear, as I looked back, it came again almost knocking my regulator out of my mouth…with the beam of my torch, my eyes trailed the tail of this annoying fish up to where my eyes widened – there was a school of them! All swarming around like a ball of bees, there were hundreds of them. Cursing into my mouthpiece with bubbles ascending on either side of my cheeks, mask flooding up from my frowning expression I could only think of the last time I had this school of bonitos ruining my dive, and yes it was surely looking that way.
As we made it across the sand to the next patch of reef, it only got more worse, glass fish- more than I could count, clouding up in front of my torch feeding on tiny transparent crustaceans. From that frown came a smile, the thought of how this amazing world works, the lights attracted these microscopic organisms called plankton, which the crustaceans were feeding on, that attracted the glass fish, preyed by the swarming bonitos…the circle of life. Torches beaming in all directions, fish flying all over, bumping into divers, fish ending up inside our ears, crustaceans under our rashies, like ants crawling on our skin. I had to get us out of there, out of the traffic. Rushing through the water, with the divers behind me, I knew that this wasn’t going to work, for where ever we go, these irritating groups of marine animals would follow, for it was for our lights that we had to tolerate this…so I got everyone to kneel on the sandy bottom, switching our lights off as we did. There was darkness, in all silence, we watched as the water started to glow, glow out like stars in the dark sky, falling like snowflakes, I was imagining myself as if I was in the Avatar movie, but only this was real. This was such an amazing sight.
These things that did this was called bio-luminescence, reacted to glow by water movement, the feeding frenzy caused the dark to lit up. We played with it, flicking our fingers, swaying our hands, dancing around the dark doing the “Gunnam Style”…the feeling was indescribable. The lights were back on, the feeding frenzy was nowhere to be seen. We started making our way shallower getting closer to the beach, coming across flat heads flipping sand around to confuse us and hide like a magician blowing smoke trying to vanish into thin air…giant clams, sea cucumbers, feather-stars and lots more. I was impressed at how it all turned around again. Ha ha somehow these crustaceans were at our necks again, this time they were everywhere! And I mean everywhere, they were inside my board shorts, funny thing, I didn’t have anything underneath, twitching and turning I led the group on top of the reef stumbling across “Bob” the five foot white tip reef shark who I think was trying to get away as well! There I was, standing on the edge of the water with my fins on one hand and torch on the other, as the other three next to me looking out into the water and at each other with amazement. Well as for me, with mixed expressions- let out a laugh; “the ocean is a mysterious place”.
Sleeping Parrot Fish
As Atu refered to in his article, parrot fish sleep in a mucus cocoon each night. Here’s one asleep under the coral. You can see the cocoon ‘bubble’ on the bottom left of the image. Look closely and you can see the fish’s eye just to the left of the white coral.
Descending in to the dark. For some people this looks a little frightening but what lurks below is an amazing wonderland of nocturnal marine life illuminating the dark to attract their prey. As Atu described it, it’s like something out of Avatar.