Regardless of the number of dives you already have under your weight belt, be prepared for first night nerves. It’s normal, and the best way to overcome it is to dive the site during the day, becoming familiar with the topography. It can be good to descend at twilight so the disappearing light is a gradual experience.
A good torch is essential. It doesn’t need to be brighter than the sun; reliability is key. Carry a spare, and make sure you’re familiar with how they work; the rest of the group won’t want to wait for you to work it out in the seconds before your back roll.
3. Blinded by the Light – Part 1
Take care not to wake the diurnal (daytime) critters; the sudden presence of light can be disorientating for them, and venturing out at night can make them dinner for waiting predators.
4. Blinded by the Light – Part 2
Please take care not to dazzle the wildlife. Don’t forget they are nocturnal, used to the darkness and their physiology is made for it. Direct light can cause disorientation and stress.
As your torch will be in your dominant hand, the signals you use will be different. Make sure you have discussed these with your buddy and your guide. Signalling “drawing attention to something” versus “this is an emergency” can be a fine line!
6. Dive Guide
Using a dive guide who is familiar with the site is always good practice. Confidence in your guide’s expertise will make the experience much more relaxing. Check out distinguishing features of your guide’s kit, e.g., colour of fins or hood, so they can easily be identified in the dark.
7. “Steady on!”
Keep your dive plan simple, navigation straightforward, and take your time. A relaxed pace will help to calm those first night nerves, and ensure you make the most of seeing the little critters that only come out to play at night.
Be warned there are some disreputable operators who will take absolutely anyone on a night dive, however, for your first night dive, it is recommended to do do it as a training dive with an instructor.
9. Thar she glows!
Bioluminescent algae are some of the amazing things you might see. Gently waving your hand in the dark, you can see the water twinkle with tiny lights, a chemical reaction that causes the algae to glow.
10. Wrap Up Warm
Without the sun the temperature can drop significantly and quickly. It’s always a good idea to wear a thicker wetsuit, or at least an extra layer, to keep warm. Cold and shivering will increase your air consumption, and distract you from the wonderful sights that only a night dive can reveal.