Night diving can be an exciting next step for new and experienced divers alike. You may be thinking, “what’s the point?” Diving at night allows you to experience creatures that don’t come out until the sun goes down.
Before you just jump in, there are a few things which can help your first dive be an amazing one. We’ll look at 5 tips to help you better prepare and execute your first night dive. Also, we’ll examine some reasons why you will want to do a night dive in the first place.
Why should I do a night dive?
As you know by now, you can see amazing things from colorful coral to curious pelagic fish when scuba diving. This is only enhanced by the sunlight filtering through the water. In fact, one of our favorite things to do is to look up and see the sun shining through the top of the water from 15m (50ft) up. It’s like looking up into a portal to another world.
But, there are a large number of animals and sights that you don’t get to see during the day time. Instead, these creatures only come out to hunt at night. This creates amazing opportunities for adventurers willing to brave the creepiness of the ocean at night.
Many animals you see hiding in the daytime, such as rays, lobsters, and shrimp, come out during the night. You can see large schools of fish and bait balls that would otherwise be out of sight. The reefs also seem more colorful under the watchful eye of a dive torch.
You can go to an area you’ve dove during the daytime, and come back at night to experience something completely different. This makes it more than worth it to make a night dive after you’ve got a few dives under your belt.
There are a few considerations though. Diving at night presents some hazards that are not present during the day time. Let’s look at six tips and considerations you should have before going on your first night dive.
5 Night Diving Tips
1. Always be familiar with your equipment
This is something to take care of before you even get into the water. Night diving is not the right time to try out new equipment you’ve purchased.
Have you ever been diving with a new dive computer and hit the wrong button? Not a big deal usually. You realize what you’ve done and can look at the screen to see the right button to press. A few tweaks and your back to normal. Now try to do that with only a flashlight at the same time you try to achieve perfect buoyancy.
It is always best to go night diving with equipment you are completely familiar with. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong such as your dive torch going out. You then have to figure out how to surface in complete darkness with new equipment. Not an optimal situation.
Which brings us to the second tip…
2. Always have backup lights
Redundancy is important anytime you are dealing with potentially dangerous activities. Night diving can be more hazardous than diving during the daytime. But, it doesn’t have to be assuming that you pay strict attention to safety.
One of the main things you want when night diving is backup lighting. There is always a chance that your dive light can go out in the middle of a dive. This poses a number of hazards, the least of which will be disorientation.
If your light goes out in the middle of a dive, especially if you are already at depth, you’re going to have problems. First, if your dive boat is not running lights, you are not going to have any visual references. This leads to disorientation as you can’t see your equipment and gauges. Problems can arise such as inability to control buoyancy.
The solution to this is to have a backup dive torch. Even better, have two back up torches in the event of an emergency. One as a backup to your main torch. Then, a smaller backup torch to help you surface in the event of an emergency.
3. Learn all necessary hand signals
These were likely covered when you went through open water training. It is impossible to communicate verbally underwater. So instead we divers use hand signals.
As a new diver or, if you haven’t dove one in a while, you may or may not have all the hand signals down. This isn’t usually a problem as your dive master will go over them with you before you get into the water. During the daytime, it is easy to see your dive buddy and the other members of the group. You can get an idea of what they are trying to communicate, even if you don’t 100% know what all the hand signals are.
This is completely different during a night dive. As we’ve discussed, the only light you are going to have is the light from your dive torch. Most likely, you are not always going to be able to clearly see what your partners hand signals are. You don’t want to have to play guessing games underwater, especially if there is an emergency. When using hand signals, you need to be crystal clear about what they mean. Even if you only get a quick look at your dive buddy, you need to understand what they are communicating.
4. Plan the dive ahead of time and carry a compass
For newer drivers, using a dive compass can be a mystifying experience. Hearing a divemaster rattle out information about the dive can be quite confusing. Usually, this isn’t an issue during regular dives. As a new diver, you will be following your divemaster and focusing on safe diving and sightseeing.
During a night dive, though, this is completely different. You aren’t going to always be able to see your dive master. Ideally, everyone will have a chem or LED light attached to their tank or BCD for easier recognition. But, there are situations where this won’t help.
If you lose your dive partner during a daytime dive, you can usually look around and find them. This won’t always be the case when night diving. In this instance, you are going to have to navigate yourself back to the boat or intended end point of the dive. If you’ve planned ahead of time and you understand underwater navigation, this won’t be a major issue. But, if you don’t understand underwater navigation, you could be in trouble.
5. Pick the right time to dive
If you are going in a group, everything will be planned ahead of time and you won’t have to worry about this. But, if you are planning on doing a night dive with only you and a buddy, you want to time it properly.
The two best times for a night dive are right as the sun goes down and just before the sun comes up. Doing a night dive as the sun goes down allows you to adjust to the night and watch as the ocean begins to come to life. Going right before the sun comes up allows you to see the opposite as the ocean life begins to settle in for the day.
Night diving is the exciting next experience if you are looking to up your scuba game.
Have you already been on a night dive? If you have any other advice or experiences you’d like to share, then let us know.
We love to hear from other divers. You never know how your experiences might help someone else.
You make a good point stating that when night diving you should be familiar with your equipment so that the dive goes as smooth as possible. I’m going to be going on a family trip and we want to go night diving with manta rays. We are very excited but we have to make sure we take all the safety precautions so that this experience is memorable.